I would like to know your opinions on Eastern vs. Western parenting methods, and which you think is better? Do you think it’s better for children to have “tiger” parents or more relaxed permissive parents? You’ve stated that your parents were somewhat lenient in that they allowed you to set your own terms (curfew, etc.) but do you ever wish they were more strict with you? Also, do you think your work ethic is something innate to you or something reinforced by your parents & those around you?

Hello, thanks for your question.

I first read this in the middle of the day and have given some thought before writing this at night.

To be quite frank… I hate to be taking Switzerland route, but I can’t choose one side definitively over the other. I think the best parenting method would be somewhere in between.

My parents: On average, my parents were too lenient on me. Only when I was dropping out of all my classes and getting Ds and Fs in high school did my dad threaten to kick me out of the house/join the army/work as a cashier somewhere. My mom pushed me when I was push-able, but the second I stopped caring about school, she sat back and watched me destroy myself.

Myself: I can’t take anything back, and I [perhaps naively] say that I don’t have any regrets, but I’ve always been curious to see if my best relative to every other high schooler in the country could have made it into Stanford, Penn, Harvard, Pomona, or other schools. I love Berkeley for the most part, but who knows what my potential could have been?

From viewing other parents/peers: extremes are bad, which is why I’m Switzerland to your question. I’ve found that the most apathetic parents have kids that lack the drive – at such an impressionable age, it’s easy to be misled without an incentive to be beckoned by parents to do well in school. Tiger parents are also a double edged sword: the student can do well in high school, but may lose the work ethics upon entering college as they were merely conditioned to do by the presence of their parents, and not from the merits/benefits of doing well in school.

I could list a plethora of reasons why extremes are bad: rebellious students, growing feelings of resentment towards parents, “hard love” parenting, etc.

My work ethic: your question is extremely, extremely tough to say.

1) Innate: On one end, I believe I am an extremely hard worker when I care about the matter at hand. I’ve found that I’ve succeeded almost 100% of the time when I’ve put my mind to something. I wholeheartedly don’t think it’s because I’m smarter than the next person; I think it’s because I stick with something with uncanny resolve.

Side note: a weakness to this part of me is that I put in zero effort on things I do not care about. A couple examples include the horrible grades in high school, ignoring folks who I no longer want to keep in touch with, what I call “diss-tancing.” What’s good about this, however, is that I know what passions or people speak out to me.

2) Socialized: I have been subliminally pressured by numerous folks around me. Most of them have never said anything instill a sense of work ethic into me. They merely do their own thing while I watch in admiration on the sideline.

Relatives: Most of my relatives, including the cousins from my generation, are highly, highly successful people. We have surgeons, bankers, pharmacists, and more doctors. We have Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, Keck, Pacific Pharm, Yale, Taiwan National University. Most of those are graduate/medical/business degrees, not a humble little bachelor’s degree. We have a very famous surgeon at UC San Francisco, and an equally famous one in Taiwan. We had a famous artist in Taiwan who lived to the age of 103.

Then there’s the current Cheng name, humble in comparison. Marginal purchasing power. Bachelors degrees. State schools. Quiet. A wallflower.

Friends and foes: I’m a very competitive, and an even more proud person. I’ve found that one of my biggest motivations is to prove people wrong – namely the ones who don’t believe in me. There’s not a single week where I don’t think of giving the middle finger to those who thought I would fail throughout various parts of my life. Being surrounded by hard working people propels me to do well, or at least be recognized as a solid individual.

Final thoughts: My family thought I would be an engineer (mechanical/electrical) growing up. My childhood toys largely comprised of Erector, Legos, and K’Nex sets.

A part of me still wishes I could have taken that route, to see if I could have hung in there with MIT, Carnegie Mellon, or Cal Tech engineers. A part of me still yearns to learn, at least how to fix cars. I suppose this “goal” has been subliminally ingrained in me from childhood.

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