Let’s talk about parenting styles. East and West parenting styles differ significantly in their approach to child-rearing. Cultural variations between the East and the West lead to variations in communication, expectations, and the balance between autonomy and conformity in raising children, reflecting the broader cultural values and societal norms of each region. So, is one parenting style better than the other? They both have pros and cons. 

Cultural Context

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Eastern and Western parenting styles are deeply grounded in cultural values and traditions. Eastern cultures like China and Japan emphasize collectivism, respect for authority, and strict discipline. They are more centered on tradition and more conservative. Western cultures, particularly in Canada and the United States, often prioritize individualism, independence, and personal growth. They grow as the world evolves, they hold onto new experiences as everything  updates.

Discipline and Authority

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Disciplining a child means teaching them responsible behavior and self-control. With appropriate and consistent discipline, the child will learn about consequences and take responsibility for their own actions. Eastern parenting tends to be more authoritarian, with a clear hierarchy and strict rules. Western parenting leans towards a more democratic approach, encouraging children to express their opinions and make choices within boundaries. Long gone are the days when a smack upside the head used to do the trick though.

Academic Overdrive vs. Creative Playtime

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Academic motivation refers to the cause of behaviors that are in some way related to academic functioning and success, such as how much effort students put forth, how effectively they regulate their work, which endeavors they choose to pursue, and how persistent they are when faced with obstacles. Eastern parents often have high academic expectations, pushing their children to excel in school from an early age and focusing more on traditional knowledge and jobs. In the West, it’s all about fostering creativity through arts and exploration. Western parents may focus more on holistic development and modern psychology, including sports, arts, and other extracurricular activities.

Emotional Expression

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Emotional expression is simply the acknowledgement of these emotions we are built to feel. Healthy expression allows us to understand the emotions, truly feel them, and move on. Western parenting encourages open expression of emotions, while Eastern parenting may prioritize emotional restraint and self-control. In countries like the USA, there is a higher value placed on individuality and personal expression, while in Eastern countries like China and Japan, the emphasis is on conformity and fitting into societal norms.

Obedience vs. Questioning Authority

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Obedience is behavior in compliance with a direct command, often one issued by a person in a position of authority. Eastern parenting may prioritize discipline, obedience, and character development., while Western parenting encourages kids to voice their opinions and typically prioritizes the emotional well-being and self-esteem of children. Western parents have adopted the ‘self-reflection’ mode of learning obedience. Whether this works or not is still up for debate.

Independence

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Independent children can be recognized in the following ways: Intrinsically motivated because they are allowed to find their own reasons to achieve. Were given the opportunity and guidance to explore achievement activities of their own choosing. Parents use extrinsic rewards appropriately and sparingly. Western parenting often promotes independence early on, while Eastern parenting may foster more dependence on family and authority figures. Westerners want their children to be strong and independent as they believe this leads to greater success and self-confidence.

Work Ethic – Future Focus vs. Present Play

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A work ethic is a personal set of values that determines how any employee approaches their work. Employees with strong work ethics are highly motivated and produce consistently high-quality results. Eastern parents often instill a strong work ethic in their children, emphasizing perseverance and dedication toward a successful future. Western parents may prioritize a balanced approach focused on the present, valuing leisure and personal growth alongside hard work. It’s like investing in stocks versus investing in a family vacation.

Family-First vs. Individuality

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Individuality is the set of traits that distinguish an individual from others. Each human has individual characteristics that set them apart from all other humans. Eastern families often have a strong sense of interconnectedness, while Western families celebrate individuality. On the East side, families tend to be more interdependent, with grandparents playing a significant role in childcare. Western families often encourage children to become self-sufficient at a younger age.

Peer Relationships

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Peer relationships are interpersonal relationships established and developed during social interactions among peers or individuals with similar levels of psychological development. Western parents may prioritize friendships and social interactions, while Eastern parents might place more emphasis on family bonds and respect for elders. Eastern countries like India place elders on a pedestal, while Western parenting might lean towards being a child’s best buddy. Think of it as an honor roll versus a popularity contest.

Parental Involvement

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This one is pretty obvious. The term “parental involvement” means the participation of parents in regular, two-way, and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities. Eastern parents are often deeply involved in their children’s lives, making decisions on their behalf even into adulthood, whether it’s about choosing a life partner, a career, or buying a house, parents in the East do not hold back from getting involved. Western parents may encourage more autonomy and decision-making from a young age.

The Language of Praise

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Alright, let’s talk parenting languages. Praise is when you tell children that you like the way they’re behaving. Praise works best when it describes the behavior you like. Eastern side dishes out humble praise to their kids, keeping egos in check. Western side? They’re like verbal confetti cannons, celebrating every little win with enthusiasm. It’s like comparing a polite golf clap to a standing ovation. So, are you going for the modest nod or the grand applause?

Embracing Failure vs. Fear of It

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To embrace failure, it is important for you to adopt a growth mindset. A growth mindset is a belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and hard work. In Eastern cultures, there’s often a greater emphasis on avoiding failure and maintaining a strong focus on academic and professional success. Failure is seen as a source of shame and disappointment. In contrast, Western parenting tends to encourage risk-taking, learning from mistakes, and viewing failure as a natural part of growth and development. These differing approaches reflect cultural values and can impact a child’s attitude towards risk and failure throughout their life.

Mealtime Manners vs. Food Freedom

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Table manners are practical guidelines to help you interact positively with other people during a meal. Eastern tables are a land of manners and proper etiquette, while Western tables might be a free-for-all of food choices. In many Eastern cultures, strict etiquette is enforced during meals. Children are expected to sit still, use proper table manners, and avoid disruptions, reinforcing discipline and self-control. Mealtime in Eastern cultures is seen as an opportunity to strengthen family bonds. Western mealtime settings are often more relaxed, with an emphasis on comfort and informality. Families may not adhere to strict meal schedules and might eat on the go or in front of the TV.

The Balancing Act

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Ultimately, it’s not about East or West being better. It’s about finding a balance that suits your family’s unique dynamics. It’s like crafting your own recipe with a dash of discipline, a sprinkle of creativity, and a whole lot of love. You may identify more with one thing or the other and apply it to your own parenting style. You may prefer to be more strict when sitting at the table and more flexible with school homework. 

Final Thoughts

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As stated before, there’s no right or wrong. You may want to go one way or the other, and that is perfectly fine, the truth is finding a comfortable parenting style is hard on its own, so take it easy and try to understand that every family will have a different dynamic.

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