If the saying "spare the rod, spoil the child" was typical of the extreme way many Chinese parents educated their children in the 1970s and earlier, most parents during the past two decades have gone to the opposite extreme and poured excessive attention and love on their sole children.
With a growing number of children without siblings growing into adulthood with defects in their personalities, the issue of how best to behave as a parent remains an issue of much concern to many people .
A Good Mother Better Than a Competent Teacher, which was written by a mother who has an MA in education, is a good read for young parents looking to identify common mistakes that a mother might make in the upbringing of her child.
The author, Yi Jianli, has succeeded in tapping the potential of her daughter and helping her develop in an all-round manner.
The conclusion from her experience is that parents should offer an example for their children to follow. The way they get along with friends, the way they solve their problems and the way they treat their children will finally find expression in the personality of their children.
In this sense, the way parents, and mothers in particular, behave is very important in the development of their children.
The mother of ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius moved three times in an attempt to find a good neighbor for her son and this shows how important such external influences are on later development. Of course, Mencius's mother set a good example for him, helping him pursue his studies on the road to becoming a sage.
Some parents now spare no effort in finding good teachers and training classes for their children so they can accumulate knowledge in a particular field. But they fail to realize that their own example is more important than anything else for their children to develop a sound personality.
Expecting too much from children is one of the follies many Chinese parents commit. Too eager to see their only children turn out to be what they hope they will become, parents tend to overlook what their children are really interested in or have potential for.
Then, using force to coerce their children into doing what they are not willing to do becomes the way many parents try to make children become the kind of people they hope them to be.
When their children have not done all they hoped, parents often accuse them of not being smart enough or not having made enough effort.
One account tells of a child who deliberately cut his fingers to avoid regular practice on the violin. Psychological shadows cast by such episodes will likely have a negative impact on a child's development.
"For the future of their children" has become an excuse that many parents use when they try to persuade their children to do something. They often say they push their children because they love them and want them to have a promising future.
This book, as Professor Qan Liqun from Peking University says, tells parents the most basic principle they should follow in the education of their children is that they should treat them as equals and respect them. If they have a good enough reason to give up an activity that the parent wants them to do, they should be allowed to do so.
Be open to their opinions and learn to respect their decisions.
We often complain about our college entrance examinations and accuse our score-oriented education system of depriving our children of their originality and creativity. True, the system does have problems, but there is no perfect educational system worldwide.
If most parents learn to treat their children the right way, the educational system won't be such a problem.
(China Daily 01/06/2010 page8)