7 reasons the way my parents raised me just won't work for my kids

Kristie Kam_Photo

  • Parenting looks different in various cultures around the world.
  • Living in Hong Kong, my parents emphasized obedience and rules.
  • Some research suggests that this is a parenting style common among Chinese parents.
  • After moving to New York at 15, I realized how my parents raised me left little room for self-expression and creativity, so I plan to do things differently.
  • Here are seven ways my parenting style will look different from my parents‘.


I grew up in a Chinese family, and undeniably, my parents set high expectations for me to do well in school. Though the pressure to succeed was heavy at times, I would never blame them for being too strict. Their parenting shaped who I am today and still motivates me to be the best in everything I do.

Chinese parents are often associated with authoritative parenting style, which emphasizes obedience and success in the classroom, according to research published in the International Journal of Behavioral Development.

Western parents are concerned about their children’s psyches. Chinese parents aren’t. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently,“ Amy Chua, a Yale Law School professor, wrote in her controversial book „Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.“

Of course, Chinese or Chinese-American parents are not a single entity, but I believe I was raised in this style. It was not until I moved to New York at the age of 15 that I realized I had only been doing what I was told, with minimal room for creativity and self expression, back in Hong Kong. The way I was raised had its limitations, and there are certain things I plan to do differently when I have kids of my own.

Here are seven ways I plan to raise my kids differently than my parents:  

SEE ALSO: We didn’t let our son look at screens until he was 3 years old — here’s why we’re raising him with limited technology

1. I won’t limit my children’s social circles

My parents always made sure that my friends were the „right“ group of peers who studied hard in school. They also believed that befriending classmates of the opposite sex would hurt my grades (which may be true, according to research reported by The Economist).

Childhood friendships can have a positive influence on a child’s development, and parents play an important role in nurturing those friendships, according to a 2011 study published in ECRP.

„Friendships contribute significantly to the development of social skills, such as being sensitive to other people’s viewpoints, learning the rules of conversation, and learning sex and age appropriate behaviors,“ Paul Schwartz, PhD, professor of psychology at Mount Saint Mary College, wrote in Hudson Valley Parent.

I plan to encourage my kids to make their own judgments and find a group of friends that fits them. Don’t get me wrong — I want to ensure that my kids have supportive friend groups, but they will have a say in who they want to spend time with.

2. I won’t doubt their academic abilities

My mom used to help me with school work by making lists of practice questions to help me study for exams. For questions I answered correctly, she never really complimented me — which a Chinese mother noted in a previous Business Insider article can be a difference between Chinese and American parenting.

But since „Good job,“ and „You did great!“ are not in her dictionary, I was never confident in my performance in school. In order to make my kids feel confident about their academic abilities, I’ll always encourage them to explain how they come up with certain answers.

Instead of shutting them down by simply marking their answers wrong, I’ll give them an opportunity to express their thought process. I’ll never judge my kids‘ performance on exams based on the letter grade, because their efforts mean a great deal, and simple encouragement can go a long way.

3. I’ll relax on rules to encourage self-reflection and creativity

When I was in elementary school, I had a fixed bedtime and study schedule — all I knew was to stick to the rules.

While kids need structure, overdoing it with rules can be counterproductive. Adam Grant, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote in The New York Times, „By limiting rules, parents encouraged their children to think for themselves.“

I won’t over-discipline my kids by making a fixed schedule for them. Instead, I’ll have open discussions with them to see what they enjoy doing outside of academics, like playdates with friends or extracurricular activities when they finish with their schoolwork.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Source: Business insider

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