Sat, November 19, 2011
China > Mainland

Wolf dad's book stirs controversy over "stick parenting"

2011-11-19 06:49:01 GMT2011-11-19 14:49:01(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BEIJING, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Following the roars of a "tiger mom" that stirred controversy on parenting in China, a Hong Kong businessman is promoting his "wolf dad" approach in his book "That's Why They Go to Peking University," a book touting how his "sticks make a great man" philosophy landed his three children at the prestigious university.

Xiao Baiyou, a father of four, claims to spend 90 percent of his time and energy on parenting. He rules with absolute authority at home, controlling nearly every aspect of his children's lives -- from cartoons, snacks, and pocket money to extracurricular activities and their friends.

"As kids, they have no judgment about what's right and wrong, so I teach them," according to his book that has become a bestseller since being published on June 1.

Even when the wolf father is away from the lair on business, his children must call him for permission to drink sodas. Those caught violating the wolf father's rules can expect physical punishments, he writes.

When his children were in preschool, they spent days reciting Chinese classics ranging from poetry to philosophy. If they failed to meet his standards, the children would be beaten with a feather duster. And they could only go to bed after finishing all of their homework.

Prior to Xiao laying out his parenting code, Amy Chua, a Chinese American, became a sensation after her book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," was published in China.

Some see Xiao's book as an opportunistic copycat looking to capitalize on a wide audience of parents eager for insight about how to educate their little emperors and princesses, the children of China's one-child family generation.

"In a society where parents mostly praise children, a wolf dad who claims that frequent criticism and physical punishments make his children successful surely catches people's eyes. I think he is trying to please the public with this claptrap," said Sun Jin, a professor at Beijing Normal University.

In China, where a formal education is still widely considered the only path toward a good future, the success of parenting books reflects many parents' desires for guidance on their parental duties, according to Sun.

Liu Weihua's "Harvard Girl Liu Yiting: a character training record" quickly became a bestseller after making its debut 2000, and has sold more than 2 million copies to date. Following its success, more biographies and autobiographies described as "manuals" for child-rearing and early education flew off the presses.

Being an only child usually means being spoiled, but at the same time, parents often set high expectations and impose strict rules.

Parents' anxieties over how to educate their children has created a market for so-called "tiger moms" and "wolf dads" to sell their parenting experience.

Some parents agree and enthusiastically endorse the wolf way.

Wang Fan, the father of a middle school student, said it's necessary for parents to be strict with their children and that he fully understands why Xiao administers physical punishment to his children.

Xu said many parents would not send their children to vocational schools even if that meant the the child could get a job.

"Vocational school students and blue collar workers are of lower social status than Peking University graduates. That's why the wolf dad and his children are considered successful," Xu said.

Meanwhile, Li Xinghua, a student at Luxun Middle School in Beijing, said he would never want a wolf dad.

"I would rather go to a second-rate college in exchange for tolerant parents. There is no universal standard for success. Steve Jobs dropped out of college, but he changed the world," Li said.

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