Move over Tiger Mom, the latest self-proclaimed Asian “parenting expert” is Wolf Dad. Chinese father Xiao Baiyou wrote a book originally titled Beat Them Into Peking University, where he boasts about beating his son and three daughters. The book, with the title later changed to So, Brothers and Sisters of Peking University, describes how Xiao “ruled” his family through a system of more than one thousand rules. The penalty for breaking any of those rules was a beating and, Xiao says “if it doesn’t leave a mark, it won’t make an impact” (source: NPR).
Break a Rule, Get a Beating
The things that were held up as “rules” in Baiyou’s range from the petty to the ridiculous. They include:
- How to hold chopsticks
- How to pick up food
- How to hold a cup
- What position to sleep in
- How to cover yourself with a blanket
- No air conditioner
- No pocket money
- No friends or social activities
If they broke the rules, it was always punished with a beating. NPR describes his approach:
He started beating them when they were 3 years old, and stopped at age 12.
“From 3 to 12, kids are mainly animals,” he says. “Their humanity and social nature still aren’t complete. So you have to use Pavlovian methods to educate them.”
Xiao’s method involved all of the children watching each punishment. Any transgression of the rules by a younger sibling would also earn a beating for the older siblings, for failing to be a good model. Despite the sometimes daily beatings, Xiao sees himself as the best dad in the world and repeatedly claims his unorthodox methods “have no shortcomings.”
In most countries, the regular beatings used by Xiao would be considered child abuse, but he told NPR that “in China, beating kids is part of their upbringing. It’s not violence. It’s not against the law.” He told China Daily that children can only be taught through brutal means.
Wolf Dad and Tiger Mom: Typical Asian Parenting?
In her post, The Sad Truth About the Tiger Mother, Care2 blogger Kristina Chew writes:
While many have criticized Chua for her ‘extreme parenting’ that involves insisting that her daughters practice musical instruments for hours even on vacation in foreign countries and threatening to give away their toys to the Salvation Army, the most troubling aspect of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is how it reinforces some very outdated, pernicious, and negative stereotypes about Asian Americans.
The Wolf Dad story will unfortunately probably do the same, despite the fact that there are all-American parents, even judges, beating their children too and all-American books like To Train Up a Child that promote child abuse.
Chinese Kids Fight Back
At this point, Xiao’s kids don’t seem to have much to say. His oldest son did tell NPR that he “loves and hates is father at the same time.” One of Chua’s daughters has a lot more to say, however. Amy Chua now has her own blog, new tiger in town, where she talks about her life now as an adult, but often looks back and comments on her upbringing.
But beyond their families, the strict authoritarian style of parenting is getting some tough competition. In The Complete Book of Combat with Mom, two Beijing 10-year olds detail hard and soft strategies for deflecting parental discipline. According to Ed Vantage, which published the images from the book, “the authors, Chen Leshui and Deng Xinyi, have a practical and devious solution for almost everything mothers have thrown at them.” The guide, which was written in ballpoint pen on notebook paper, was uploaded to the Internet by the Leshui’s father.
Hope for the Future?
Leshui’s book went viral on the Internet, while Xiao’s book has sold close to 120,000 copies. The abuse described by Xiao is horrific. His book shouldn’t be published and he should be punished for abusing his children. But perhaps there is hope for the next generation with children like Leshui taking the lead.
Photo credit: jadis1958 on flickr