Is there a more bizarre way of encouraging independence in your kids?

As parents, we all want to encourage independence in our kids. I’m pretty sure of that. In fact, some of us get pretty creative in our efforts to make our kids learn to do things for themselves and stand on their own two feet.

But one woman has taken it to a whole new level. In her effort to encourage independence in her young daughter, she made up a horrific lie to convince the girl that she wasn’t her real mother and kept up the lie for over an entire decade.

A woman surnamed Shen, a resident of China’s Shenyang city, married a wealthy man and had a young daughter named Cheng Cheng. Their family was well-off, and about 13 years ago, Shen began to fear her daughter was becoming spoiled and arrogant. To stop this behaviour and force her child to be independent, Shen adopted a particularly unorthodox parenting tactic.

“Your real mother died a long time ago,” Shen told Cheng Cheng, who was about to enter fourth grade at the time. “I’m not your real mother. I’m just providing for your education up until you finish university. After that, don’t count on my help anymore.”

Cheng Cheng did not believe her mother’s words at first, but after Shen remained adamant in her claims, the young girl became shocked and confused.

This confusion was only temporary. Soon after learning her “real mother” had died and Shen would not be around to provide for her forever, Cheng Cheng began studying harder, and her academic performance improved. Her arrogant traits also began to disappear, and the girl became “sensible and obedient,” the Shenyang Evening News reported.

I am stumped, speechless. At a time when a child needs the love of a mother most, this woman chooses to push her child away in the most cruel fashion. Imagine the shock for the poor child to find out that the person she’s loved and trusted all this time suddenly isn’t who she thought and that her happy life of being loved by her mom has just ended… poof! just like that! How does a young child deal with this?


I mean, there are any number of ways to teach a kid to be independent and this sounds like just about the most cruel and unacceptable way to go about it. First off, I’ve never believed in lying to a child to get them to behave or obey. What kind of message would we be sending the child? That it’s okay to lie? That it’s okay to trick someone into doing something we want them to do?

I can only speak for myself and some will disagree, but this whole making up stories and lying to a child and threatening that evil will befall them if they don’t obey is not going to benefit the child. At age 9 or 10, as this child was, kids are able to understand reasoning and logic. They’re playful, sure, they may need more pep talks than we have patience for and countless reminders to drill in the idea, but isn’t that why we call them kids?

Eventually most can be taught and will learn. There’s no need to go into this sort of elaborate scheme to turn a child’s life upside down. What does this achieve? In the long run, I think keeping the communication channel open is a far better way for parents to come out on top and to win their children’s trust and respect. That’s how I do it anyways.

What’s more, childhood trauma has a way of carrying over into adulthood leaving emotional scars that can be hard to erase. Later in the article, the mother is triumphant that she has raised a daughter who is successful in every way – super achiever, high-flying job, good husband, happy ending? I’m no psychologist but I can almost bet that deep down inside, this young woman harbors deep emotional scars and who can say she won’t perpetuate her own negative experiences on her own children later?

Right, I think I’ve said enough. Read the full text here if you’re interested and tell us: what do you think of the woman’s parenting style? how do you teach your kids independence?

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