Amy argues Chinese parents are more involved with their children than the Western parents and may spend 10 times as long on academic activities with their children. Western parents think children should do what they enjoy but Chinese parents think everything is fun once a child becomes good at it. As a result, Chinese parents are not afraid to override the preferences of their children and make them practice for as long as it is needed to master the challenge at hand whether it is playing piano or Math. Amy concedes Western parents are subjected to harsher parenting standards as compared to Chinese parents. Chinese parents can get away with things such as shaming their children that may be inconceivable among Western parents. Similarly, Chinese parents can be more demanding and direct while Western parents only ask of their children to be the best they are capable of rather than being the best among their peers.
Amy complains Western parenting style is overtly focused on the feelings of the children even if it means heaping false praise on the children. Amy also argues Western parents blame the shortcomings of their children on the system such as the teachers not teaching properly while the Chinese parents believe any shortcomings mean the child is not putting in enough efforts and should work harder. When a Western child falls short of expectations, the parent may blame it on the child having different capabilities while the Chinese parent may blame it on lack of focus and work ethics. Amy supports the Chinese approach when children fall short of expectations. She thinks the parents should shame them and force them to work harder until they get the desired results.
Amy also reflects upon the differences in Chinese and Western parents’ expectations from their children. The Western parents do not have many expectations from their children because they believe raising the children is simply a duty they should fulfill honorably. On the other hand, the Chinese parents believe their children owe their success to the parents. As a result, the Chinese children should respect and take care of their parents for the rest of the life as a sign of gratitude.
Amy argues all parents wish the best for their children and this includes the Western parents. However, Chinese parents do not provide the same freedom to their children that the Western parents do because the Chinese parents think children make poor choices and require constant monitoring and control. She gives a personal example of how her younger daughter Louise had trouble mastering a piano piece called “The Little White Donkey”. Her daughter rebelled as she could not master the piece in the beginning and even Amy’s husband thought Amy was being too harsh. But Amy persisted and eventually her daughter succeeded in mastering the piano piece. And once Louise mastered the piece, her confidence rose and she started enjoying playing the piano.
Amy believes the Western parents focus too much on the child’s self-esteem and as a result, they do not push their children harder. The right thing is not to let the children give up because once children accomplish something they thought they could not, their self-confidence gets significant boost.
Amy ends the article by arguing both the Western and the Chinese parents care about their children. It is just that they have quite different parenting philosophies. The Western parents emphasize the child’s individuality and focus on providing a supportive environment while the Chinese parents emphasize teaching skills and habits that will prove beneficial in the real world.