Self-proclaimed "Tiger Mom," Amy Chua became an overnight sensation after sharing her parenting philosophies in her best-selling book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, published in 2011. Many were shocked by some of her parenting techniques, and attacked her for being too strict. One example? Her two daughters were forced to practice the piano daily and couldn't stop until they played the piece they were working on flawlessly. Chua would not even allow the girls breaks to go to the bathroom or eat dinner. She claims her parenting style has resulted in wonderful children that are prepared to take on the world.
Those who raise an eyebrow when hearing about Chua's opinions on parenting are in for even more of a shock. Self-proclaimed "Wolf Dad," Xiao Baiyou makes Amy's philosophies look like child's play. He too has coined a parenting book in which he proudly admits to beating his sons and three daughters. Originally entitled Beat Them Into Peking University, Xiao has since changed the title to the slightly less-shocking So, Brothers and Sisters of Peking University.
Whatever his book is called, it's the content inside that has rocked quite a few people to the core. His parenting techniques are considered by many to fall into the category of out-and-out abuse. Baiyou has defended himself against his critics with some strong and disturbing words: "In China, beating kids is part of their upbringing. It's not violence. It's not against the law." Wait, wait there's more. It gets a little worse. He continues, "If this kind of beating is legal, scientific and in the interests of the kids, then fine. I'm all for beating, since it's effective."
Many different parenting styles exist. The way children are raised varies from culture to culture, and it's been established that there is definitely more than one way to successfully raise a little one. While Wolf Dads and Tiger Moms undoubtedly exist in China, there are those in Western culture who agree with Xiao's parenting philosophies. Maybe even someone you know. Read on for 15 signs that the guy next door, the guy at your next play date, or maybe even your guy, is, in fact, a Wolf Dad.
15 Particular Papa
Know a dad who demands things are done in a very particular way? Everyone has certain preferences, but if a dad you know demands his children dress in a certain color, eat very particular foods or adhere to an extremely specific schedule, he could be considered a Wolf Dad.
According to Xiao, "Wolves look ferocious and brutal, yet they have great wisdom and are exceptionally tender to their cubs." In his opinion, the strict upbringing of his children came from a place of love. He attributes his children's successes to the strict standards he held them to throughout their lives. Right or wrong, the way Xiao has chosen to control his family is what he believes is best. He was very particular about how things were done while raising his family because he felt this was the best way to ensure his children went on to lead successful lives.
If Dad is found organizing his sock drawer, he's most likely harmless, and just trying to be a bit more zen. If he's telling the kids what to do every second of every single freaking day and getting super mad when they don't obey his every whim, he's a Wolf Dad.
14 Rules, Rules, Rules
"I have more than a thousand rules: specific detailed rules about how to hold your chopsticks and your bowl, how to pick up food, how to hold a cup, how to sleep, how to cover yourself with a quilt," Xiao says. "If you don't follow the rules, then I must beat you."
Um, wow. That's...pretty intense. If a dad is not only particular about how he wants things done, but also has a list of rules he expects his children to follow as long as the Wall of China, he's entering into Wolf Dad territory. All parents have rules for their children. Many believe setting clear expectations for children is imperative. There is, however, a difference between having some set rules and having a rule for how a poor child must snuggle up in his blanket.
Xiao feels his rules kept his children in line. Some may argue the rules he set for his kids are oppressive, unnecessary and downright abusive. Whatever a person's opinion on this man's parenting techniques, it isn't hard to spot a Wolf Dad. He's the guy that has a rule for everything, possibly including a rule about setting rules.
13 Father Knows Best
Xiao's oldest child, Xiao Yao, has his doubts about his father's methods. He confessed in a television interview: "Though Dad likes using traditional educational methods, he may not fully understand the exact forms and he chose his own way. There may be some distance from the best results."
His children now raised, Xiao is able to see the benefits of his Wolf Dad techniques. It sounds like at least one of his children isn't singing the same tune as good-ole' Dad. He seems to feel that Xiao veered off-course a bit when implementing what he thought were traditional methods of teaching children.
Xiao's parenting style, his rules and his punishments when rules were disobeyed were not up for discussion. He was the ruler of the home and the way he decided things should be done was the way it was. A guy may be a Wolf Dad if he's unwilling to bend in any way in his child-rearing opinions.
12 High Expectations
Xiao had a reason for the way he treated his children: he wanted them to be successful members of society, get a good education and make the world a better place. Because his passion for helping his children succeed was so strong, he decided to use methods he felt would guarantee his offspring's success in the future.
All parents want their children to go out into the world and do good. Most, if not all, moms and dads hope their children will have greater opportunities than they themselves had. It is natural for a parent to wish nothing but the best for their children.
High expectations are one thing, specific expectations are quite another. If a dad insists his children will follow a very specific path in life, he may be a Wolf Dad. Sure, a father can steer a son or daughter in the direction he feels is best, but demanding certain criteria be met "or else" may be a determining factor in the question of whether or not he's a Wolf Dad.
11 Extreme Methods of Discipline
Xiao actually has a list of "commandments" that he adhered to to help him determine when a punishment was in order, and what type of punishment was most fitting for a child's mistake. Just a few of these can be found below:
1. "The spanking tool is confined to the rattan cane only, which causes minor bruises.”
2. “Only hands and calves are spanked, other body parts are spared.”
3. “Mistakes are pointed out every time before the whack so children know why they are punished.”
4. “Sisters and brothers must watch when one of them is smacked so they learn.”
5. “The punished one has to count the number of spankings during each admonishment.”
A father who has a pre-determined way of punishing children for their errors is entering Wolf Dad territory. Especially if his punishments are physical in nature. While Xiao's methods of punishment seem barbaric and wrong to many, he argues that his rules ensured his children were never hurt badly. We'll leave it up to each individual to decide whether this Wolf Dad behavior is alright or totally and completely uncool.
10 My Way or the Highway
Wolf Dads feel the need to be all-powerful when it comes to making decisions for their families. They don't take c**p from anyone, not the postman, their children's teachers, their wife or their mother-in-law.
Know a guy who always needs to wear the pants? Maybe he gets a little too upset when he doesn't get his way or when someone tries to defy him? He's a Wolf Dad prowling through life and howling whenever one of his cubs doesn't follow the plan he's set out for them, to a T.
Lots of men like to be the leaders of their households. It's one thing for Dad to insist on sitting at the head of the table and getting first dibs on the bacon. It's quite another for him to bully the members of his family living under his roof. A Wolf Dad is the type that won't hesitate to kick a child out of the house if he doesn't feel he or she is respecting his wishes.
9 Never A Dull Moment
Xiao was insistent that his children shouldn't be allowed any down time. In his mind, if they were constantly busy with structured activities, they wouldn't have the chance to get into trouble. This meant no frivolous television programs, video games, chatting with friends using emojis or Angry Birds. The rules he set out even went so far as no Coca-cola while online and asking permission before opening the refrigerator.
Yep, sounds like a major bummer, but Xiao doesn't see it that way at all. In fact, according to him, his methods are the reason his children turned out so dang well. He stands firm in the fact that he would do things the same way if he had the chance for a child-rearing do-over.
Despite the criticisms Xiao's parenting methods have received, his book has flown off of bookstore shelves. A guy who won't let his kids relax, unwind or do anything "frivolous" is exhibiting Wolf Dad behaviors. He's the type that demands a child read War and Peace instead of allowing her to kick back and play Candy Crush.
8 Ruling With an Iron Fist
Wolf Dads don't feel they are being too strict or crossing the line. They rule their homes with an iron fist and don't see anything wrong with that. A guy who doesn't apologize for his iron-clad set of rules or overly oppressive parenting techniques is quickly approaching Wolf Dad territory.
He's the type of Dad who doesn't put up with squabbles, messes or anything less than stellar grades. He lets his children know what he expects and what the consequences will be if they don't comply.
Xiao firmly clings to his belief that he's pretty much Father of the Year. In his mind, his methods of discipline and child-rearing "have no shortcomings." He enforced his rules tirelessly and even punished the older children if a younger child misbehaved for not being better examples. He has also said that the beatings were not effective unless they left a mark. Yikes.
7 Never Enough
Children of Wolf Dads often yearn for the love and approval of their fathers. They know Dad has high expectations, and may feel his affection for them is based solely on whether or not they meet his high-as-a-kite standards. Sadly, these poor kids are probably right on the money.
Xiao didn't give out high fives and butterfly kisses. The contact he made with his children often came in the form of beatings with a rattan cane for not following one of his thousands of rules. "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned...again," was probably much more prevalent in Xiao's children's vocabularies than "Wanna play catch?" or "Let's play Candyland, Daddy!"
Xiao's defense? In his own words, “Only when you are beaten frequently as a child can you learn discipline and etiquette. Bearing the pains helps strengthen your mind, build up your character and develop a strong will." Sounds like his kids felt like Dad was really proud when he didn't beat him. That previous sentence is pretty damn heartbreaking, because it's most likely true.
6 What Friends?
Xiao's philosophies seem to go from unsettling to simply disturbing. "From 3 to 12, kids are mainly animals," he says. "Their humanity and social nature still aren't complete. So you have to use Pavlovian methods to educate them."
He didn't allow his children to have any friendships outside of the home until they left for college. This meant no parties, no extra-curricular activities, no play dates and most certainly no sleepovers. It's hard to say what affect this isolation had on his children. It is true that at least they had each other, but the valuable social interactions outside of the family unit are needed to help young ones learn how to be a productive member of society and build lasting relationships.
A father who won't allow his children to have a life outside of the strict regulations he has set up is a Wolf Dad. Especially if he's unwilling to allow his children to build friendships with those outside of the family pack.
5 No Fun Allowed
Xiao isn't ashamed of the fact that many think he is a terrible, abusive father. He scrimped and saved in order to give his children a bright future. His children didn't get birthday gifts. His wife never got flowers on special occasions and wasn't even allowed to spend money on makeup. Xiao's family wasn't allowed air conditioning, not even in the summer. Every extra cent went towards piano lessons and tutors for the children.
Trips to Disneyland, Segway rides, cotton candy and PlayStations are not likely to make an appearance in the lives of a Wolf Dad's children. These dads believes fun comes at too great a cost and only have eyes for the end result. If a dad near you refuses to allow his kids to do anything even remotely fun, he may be a Wolf Dad.
Is it sad for a child to miss out on all of the magic many young ones experience in their early years? We think so. Is the sacrifice worth it in order to ensure the children have a bright future? Sometimes, that's up to Dad.
4 All-Seeing Eyes
Wolf Dads don't miss a thing. They are always on the look-out for a broken rule, an unfinished assignment or an opportunity to teach the kids a lesson. If a dad you know is hell-bent on being filled-in on any and all things going on inside his household, and possibly actually has eyes in the back of his head, he's got Wolf Dad written all over him.
Sure, it's good for parents to know the goings-on inside of their abode. We're not referring to a guy who knows what time his kids start school and what his oldest son's favorite color is.
A guy with a Wolf Dad eye will know EVERYTHING: which floorboards creak when stepped on, how long his little girl spent practicing the flute, the amount of time his youngest spent in the bathroom yesterday and where Mom hides her chocolate. Yep, these Wolf Dads are starting to sound pretty damn terrifying. We definitely wouldn't mess with one.
3 Mom Supports Him
A mother in a family with a Wolf Dad calling the shots often succumbs to his will without a fight. It may be that she agrees with his techniques, or she may be afraid of what will happen if she challenges him. Wolf Dads are alpha males who may be just as strict with their wives as they are with the kids.
Huambo Tianshu, Xiao's wife admitted to NPR that her husband may have taken things a bit too far. "I thought that maybe he was a bit too strict, that sometimes it could have been more relaxed," she said. "Maybe they didn't need to be beaten quite so often."
"I thought we were quite happy, but maybe after the kids grow up they only remember the unhappy things. I think the education they received was right." It sounds like Tianshu stood by her husband despite some misgivings. Maybe she agreed with what he was doing at the time, or maybe she was too afraid to speak up when she felt things were getting out of hand. Whatever she really felt, she supported him in his parenting choices.
2 The Kids Respect Him
Did we say respect? Some more apt terminology may be revere, fear, cower-to or tremble-in-the-presence-of. Xiao is proud to declare that his children respected his rules and regulations. But did they really? A child with a Wolf Dad may obey Daddy dearest on every point, but deep down inside, he may be harboring some major resentment.
Respect and love are two very different things. It's good for children to respect and obey their parents, but when one progenitor or another goes way off into left field with their choices of parenting techniques, the kids may be justified in being just a tiny bit pissed.
Some would say Xiao robbed his children of their childhoods. Yes, it's wonderful that he had high aspirations for his offspring. Is forcing them to spend every waking moment of every single damn day preparing for some arbitrary future goal they don't even understand yet the right way to achieve that goal? Other Wolf Dads may say, "Howl, yes!" We say, "Um...probably not."
1 The Future Is Bright?
Xiao always had an end goal in mind: a reason for all of the madness. What was it? His goal was for his children to attend the prestigious Peking University in China. So, how is he doing on his quest so far? Three out of his four children got into Peking University, and the fourth was still in high school last time we heard from the family. Chances are good that little cub got in too.
We guess despite the fact that Xiao is despised by many for his parenting techniques, no one can deny that the way he chose to parent got his children where he always dreamed they would be.
Right? Wrong? Know a Wolf Dad? Time will tell if his cubs turn out to be successful adults or not. The question we should all ask ourselves, even if the children do go on to do great things, is: at what cost?