In The News
“Eagle Dad” Forces 4 Year Old To Run Nearly Naked in Snow - Tough Love, Child Abuse or Media Stereotypes?
You may have seen the viral video and headlines about the “Eagle Dad” forcing his 4 year old son to run and do push ups in the snow dressed in only gym shoes and yellow underpants.
According to the New York Daily News, He and his wife and son were in New York on January 23 visiting from China. On that day, there was two inches of snow on the ground and the temperature was 34 degrees.
The father has defended his actions saying the snow run is part of a training regimen of intensive physical and mental activities designed to strengthen his son, who was born premature and has suffered from health problems. He also has his son do Kung Fu, dance, cycle and mountain climb and says he has thrown the little boy into freezing water to “toughen him up”, had him eat “cold ice cream on cold winter days to train his stomach to get used to the cold.” As a result, he claims, his son “rarely has a cold or fever.”
Some are calling for the parents arrest after seeing the video, others are praising his efforts and calling him an “Eagle Dad” as eagles are said to push their young out of their nests so they can learn how to fly.
When I saw the video I was deeply disturbed, it’s hard to hear the boy sobbing calling out to his parents for a hug looking visibly unhappy. How far do you go to challenge your children and when does it turn into mental and physical abuse? While I do not agree with this parenting style or see the need for a toddler to freeze to death to toughen him up, I am also disturbed by how the media headlines can perpetuate Asian parenting stereotypes.
While there is no doubt the father and toddler is Chinese, many of the headlines seem to feed into the recent fascination with Chinese parenting styles and play off stereotypes for readership. In many articles there was only the headlines and no exploration of the whole story or there was an immediate comparison to “The Tiger Mom”. Chinese parenting techniques have come under scrutiny after author Amy Chua's book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," sparked heated discussion worldwide about the benefits of tough parenting.
Either way this story brings up a lot of emotions and debate. In the end I hope it serves as a reminder to explore our own ideas when it comes to our own parenting and judging others.