An eight-year-old boy in China who was forced by his mother to collect recyclable rubbish to earn enough to repay 20 yuan (RM13 or US$3) he stole from his grandmother has renewed debate about tough love parenting.
A news report on the unnamed boy from Xiamen in Fujian province, southeastern China, getting caught stealing went viral on Tuesday and triggered heated online discussion about parenting and discipline.
After the boy’s grandmother discovered the money was missing, he admitted he had stolen it from her wallet when she was not paying attention.
When his mother, surnamed Meng, was informed of the theft she gave him a severe beating which left his buttocks bruised.
“It’s not the first time he has stolen, this time I also gave him a hard lesson,” Meng told Sichuan Radio And Television during an interview.
She said that she couldn’t tolerate stealing, and wanted her son to know that earning money is never easy.
Meng also decided to make the boy collect recyclable waste to earn money so he could repay his grandmother. Later that same day, the boy, wearing rubber gloves and slippers, arrived at a local rubbish tip.
After spending a few hours at the tip, the boy had filled a large bag with recyclable items including bottles, boxes, and paper.
“The money he got from the wastes he collected for a whole night is just six yuan (RM4), but I believe he must learn his lesson,” Meng said.
A lot of online readers of the boy’s story praised his mother’s tough parenting approach.
One said: “The mum did the right thing. She taught her son that mistakes come at a price.”
Another commenter, who identified herself as a mother, wrote: “I really support Meng’s parenting. If we tolerate any thieving, the boy will not stop stealing.”
In Chinese society, tough parenting is seen as a way to inspire and encourage children to be better members of society.
In June, a teacher in central China went out of his way to teach a 12-year-old student about the value of an education by taking him to a construction site where his mother works as a manual labourer.
Earlier in April this year, a father from central China’s Hubei province forced his 11-year-old daughter to dig for lotus roots by hand for four hours under the blazing hot sun to teach her about what life without a proper education would mean for her future. – South China Morning Post