Lest you think that all of a sudden dads everywhere are kinder, gentler, and more nurturing, the folks who gave the world the concept of “Tiger Mother” are back with the male version – the Wolf Father. The term “Tiger Mom” gained traction here in the U.S. with the publication of Amy Chua’s memoir Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother, in which she recounted her draconian methods of raising her two daughters as if they were Spartan warriors prepping for their eventual Thermopylae. Famously, Chua’s girls were denied many things that most of us don’t think twice about giving our children: playdates, opportunities to try different sports/musical instruments/activities, bathroom breaks. Oh, and one time Chua called one of her kids “garbage” – presumably because her daughter made the mistake of hanging her clothes on wire hangers. (Amazon describes the book as “often hilarious”. Yeah, it’s a Judd Apatow movie waiting to happen.)
Because we dads with literary aspirations can’t seem to go without having what the moms have, proud Chinese dad Xiao Baiyou has released his version of the Tiger Mom story. Wolf Father (not to be confused with awesome Australian 70’s arena-rock throwback band Wolfmother) is a how-to manual for dads who really want to emulate Amy Chua’s, um, “success” at raising kids. Here’s some of Xiao’s sage advice:
“Before the kids go to junior high school, spank them every time they make mistakes, but greatly reduce the frequency after junior high since the children form their own personalities by that age; The spanking tool is confined to the rattan cane only, which causes minor bruises; Only hands and calves are spanked, other body parts are spared; Mistakes are pointed out every time before the whack so children know why they are punished; Sisters and brothers must watch when one of them is smacked so they learn; The punished one has to count the number of spankings during each admonishment; The punished one cannot try to avoid the punishment, otherwise he/she gets more.”
The book has thus far only been published in China; I’m pretty sure that beating your kid with a rattan cane would land you in prison here. And to be fair, there are a number of prominent Chinese educators, scholars, and medical professionals who condemn what’s basically a combination how-to manual/book-length excuse for child abuse. That hasn’t stopped Wolf Father from becoming a bestseller in Asia. (I’m not sure the book’s title is accurate; from what we know of wolves, they aren’t psychotics who advocate beating small children with sticks.) Hopefully, Xiao’s kids will write their own memoirs about growing up with a “wolf father”, and one day will able to live normal lives free of an abusive monster. And hopefully, there will be a chapter detailing the many, many occasions when Xiao was beaten to a bloody pulp by his fellow prison inmates.
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