Let’s look again at Dan Allender’s book How Children Raise Parents. The second question he says all children ask is “Can I get my own way?”
Discipline is the key to this. How many Asian parents discipline their children? There are expectations by most Asian parents in the area of academics. But as one youth worker shared, since the parents expect so much academically, they can’t expect on other fronts. So the child can do many things (i.e. get their own way) outside the realm of academics.
This may or may not be true. If you put that much pressure on kids to get straight A’s, maybe they have little time to get into any trouble. Not sure… do you think Asian American children have good character traits and can get their own way? Do you think Asian parents discipline their children?
These two questions together – “Am I Loved?” and “Can I get my own way?” are one and the same – they are both questions to determine if the parents love them. They do not want their own way, they want the boundaries and restrictions. They want to tell their peers they can’t do it because their parents forbid it. If not, they are stuck to their own reasonings and subject to mocking for not going along with the crowd.
But it is here where the Asian high value of community and not bringing any disgrace to family or community will come into play. This is inherent discipline that the child follows and knows he cannot always have his own way.
If any parent cannot show love to their children, they feel very unworthy and it is hard for them to relate to others. If kids feel unloved and cannot get their own way, they feel they are in a harsh environment. If they feel loved ,but still can get their own way, the parents are sending mixed messages – if I let you get your way, I really don’t care, really don’t love you. But if they feel loved and know they cannot get their own way, they truly know their parents care and love them.
This may be one of the points of the book Raising Happiness by Dr. Christine Carter. I don’t agree with everything she says, but she quotes experts to say that those who are happier actually become more successful. She quotes 50 years of scientific research to talk about happiness of children and how parents can help. However, this was disputed by Eurasian Olivia Munn who actually complimented tiger parenting and her mother’s discipline growing up even before there were “tiger moms.”
What do you think about Asian parenting – do our children know we love them and know that for the most part, we don’t let them have their way?