Doting Parents vs. Howl of the Wolf Dad: Views from China

December 1, 2011 / General /


This morning’s China Daily newspaper features an article titled, “Howl of the Wolf Dad.” According to the article, Xiao Baiyou, a successful businessman who recently published his memoir, credits his stern parenting style for the fact that three of his offspring now attend the prestigious Peking University.  Xiao, whipped “thousands of times” as a child by his mother, is grateful for it: “Bearing the pains helps strengthen your mind, build up your character, and develop a strong will. …Nowadays Chinese parents are too soft…”

Experts and parents in China have been divided by Xiao’s parenting style and there is little doubt in my mind that most American readers would find his methods abhorrent. But Xiao says that his actions are entirely born from love: “Wolves look ferocious and brutal, yet they have great wisdom and are exceptionally tender to their cubs. It’s just like me: My brutality is all out of love.”

If he is acting out of love, and if his own experience is that being whipped in childhood helped create his success, something that he also wants for all of his children, I wonder if there is something positive in Mr. Xiao’s approach. What do you think?