IGB International School, Sierramas, Sungai Buloh
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Small Wonder Malaysia
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Odyssey, The Global Preschool (Mont Kiara)

Parenting Style – Austere Asian or Warm Western?

by on 25/07/2014 6967

The gap between Asian style of parenting and Western’s is as glaring as the geographical distance between these two continents.

For many Asian parents, the soft and mollycoddling approach to parenting that is adopted by many Western parents may seem a little too lenient and deemed as doing nothing to discipline a child. While for the majority of Western parents, the Asian ways of instilling respect and discipline into children may even seen as bordering on child abuse.

The social evolution in these continents has a lot of influence on how parents raise their children.

If one were to take a look at history, Western parents did have a strict way of parenting back in the days where manners and social decorum was much emphasized. Along the way, exposure to scientific researches and studies as well as more opportunities for education has produced a more lenient way of parenting in the West.

Many psychological studies have proven that strict parenting with rigid disciplinary scruples such as corporal punishment, are not only counter productive in teaching the child between right and wrong, it is also harmful for the child’s mental and psychological development.

This is not to say Asian parents disregard all aspect of children’s psychology. There are just as many experts and specialists in child psychology in Asia as there are in the West and many Asian parents are aware about their children’s mental and psychological development. But for many Asian parents, the tradition of strict parenting has been the norm since as long as anyone could remember.

With what seems like a limitless growth of information technology, parents nowadays are more exposed to many views and studies on parenting styles. Due to this, parents can sometimes be at odds as what would be the best way to raise their child.

In both parenting approaches, it’s not the intention of any parent to harm their children. So let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of both parenting styles.


Austere Asian – Spare the rod, spoil the child

The Good

In many Asian families, it has been proven that strict parenting with clear set of rules and regulations along with appropriate punishments, produced disciplined, well-mannered and respectful children. This parenting style is also present in the children’s education years where Asian parents pay utmost attention to the child’s performance in school. In Asia, educational success is highly regarded, as it’s deemed to be the mark of good parenting.


The Bad

Many Asian parents are fierce with their children about many things. This causes the child to be fearful of his or her own parents. Being the authoritative figures in the child’s life, many Asian parents are fine with their children being scared of them. But sometimes, when a child has grown to fear the parents, he or she will listen to the parents out of fear of punishments instead of respect. While many Asian parents equate fear to respect, we would want our children to be able to listen to and reason with us out of respect, not fear.


The Ugly

Asian parenting style is at best altruistic and at worst, borders on mental torture. For us who were brought up by Asian parents, many would probably remember the times we hated our parents for punishing us, sometimes over little things. In severe cases, this hatred can fester well into adulthood and cause the now-adult child to hate and abandon his or her parents. This family malfunction can affect the child for the rest of his or her life and also affect the way he or she handles relationships with others.


Warm Western – Not all that glitters is gold

The Good

Western parenting practices open door policy where the child is always welcome to discuss and talk to the parents about anything. This wonderful opportunity that is often denied to Asian children can produce a mentally healthy child where he or she is able to think and reason on his or her own accord with aerial guidance of the parents. Western children are often allowed to make mistakes and instead of punishing them, Western parents will choose to talk it out with their children to discuss the effect and consequences of the children’s actions.


The Bad

The “talking it out” can sometimes backfire because when a child did something grave and the parents choose to talk it out instead of punishment, the child probably wouldn’t learn the seriousness of the action. Grounding the child for a week or a month may show that the parents are upset, but the lesson probably wouldn’t stick as much. The child might do it again after some time because he or she thinks that the parents are just going to ground them again.


The Ugly

Many Western children are very vocal and direct towards their parents, sometimes to the point of saying harsh things in a raised voice. Asian children wouldn’t even dreamed of doing this because they have been taught since young to always speak and address elders in a respectful manner no matter what they do. While many argued that Western children who are able to openly and vocally express their feelings does not mean they’re being disrespectful or rude, many parents still find it wrong for their children to raise their voices to them.


So what’s a parent to do when choosing the best way to raise children? It does seem like Asian parents risk raising children who are timid and introvert while Western parents will end up having children who are independent yet seemingly insensitive towards others, doesn’t it?

The most important thing is to balance out both approaches.

As both styles have great benefits, it would be wise to take the best of two worlds and incorporate that with your own values. It is the parents’ responsibility to mold and raise a good human being, so making sure you’re doing your best will be the ultimate parenting style, no matter which you choose to adopt.

It’s important to celebrate the child for being a child, but still set guidelines of what are expected of them in order for them to grow up into responsible and mentally healthy adults. There is nothing wrong to speak to a child whenever he or she misbehaved, but it’s equally important to emphasis the gravity of the situation so the children will understand why their parents are not happy with the action.

Either you’re a strict dad or an open-arms mom, always make it clear to your children why you place such importance on your family values. Not only your children will appreciate your effort in explaining it to them why you’re upset, they will also learn to develop their own values.

After all, all we want is for them to grow up to be good adults.