Dr. Tao Yong sparked controversy by having his 12-year-old daughter wash dishes on her birthday. How should we view Dr. Tao's parenting style? Why do netizens have doubts about this?

On December 23rd, Dr. Tao Yong, an ophthalmologist in Beijing, posted a lengthy message to celebrate his daughter’s birthday. In the post, he mentioned the controversial act of asking his daughter to wash dishes. In the lengthy post, Dr. Tao described his 12-year-old daughter as strong-willed and uncooperative when it came to taking photos, displaying a strong personality. On her birthday, he requested that she wash dishes, which met opposition from the entire family. Some argued that a child wouldn’t wash dishes cleanly, while others suggested waiting until she was older, believing she would naturally learn. After much persuasion, Dr. Tao finally convinced his daughter to come out of her room and wash the dishes.This post sparked extensive discussions among netizens about parenting and education, leading to considerable controversy. Criticism and debate primarily revolved around several aspects:1. Should a child’s birthday be centered on the child’s mood?2. Should dishwashing be considered an essential skill for girls?3. Must girls always conform to the image of a lady?The wording used by Dr. Tao in his post led many netizens to believe that he was employing a traditional and overbearing parenting style, intervening excessively in his child’s life on her birthday with the goal of transforming a defiant girl into a proper lady.As a result, criticisms from netizens encompassed disappointment in Dr. Tao himself, disapproval of his actions, and clashes in educational philosophies. Some even elevated the discussion to the issue of gender roles:- Professionalism should not come at the expense of kindness and traditional values.- Why should one serve their family and wash dishes on their birthday? Can’t children enjoy a happy birthday without such obligations?- To the little girl, I wish you a happy birthday and hope you never have to wash dishes. Smile when you want to smile in photos and don’t if you don’t. Education can take place on any day, so why choose a birthday?- The young girl doesn’t need to be meek and obedient or learn to wash dishes. As long as she maintains a love for the world and curiosity, that’s enough.Some even saw this as a form of grooming women into subservience for unknown men.Subsequently, Dr. Tao Yong deleted the lengthy post, which had caused controversy, where he asked his 12-year-old daughter to wash dishes, sparking debates on education. Dr. Tao’s decision received both support and criticism.

To be honest, I feel that netizens have actually misunderstood the situation. This is not just a matter of parenting; Dr. Tao is using the way he educates his daughter to establish his authority within the family.

Let’s count how many people his daughter served throughout this whole process: grandparents (serving meals), uncle and aunt (rolling duck pancakes), mother (serving dishes), and the whole family (washing dishes). Imagine how awkward the atmosphere must have been at the dining table during this entire process. Everyone gathered together to celebrate the child’s birthday in joy, but the father kept giving orders, demanding the child to do this and that. The child became more and more aggrieved, and the emotions of the family members became increasingly tense. Most likely, during the meal, some family members already expressed their opposition and felt they didn’t need such service (especially distant relatives like the uncle and aunt). The reason he had to argue with everyone and insist on dishwashing at the end is because the atmosphere had become so tense that he had actually provoked the anger of the entire family.

Later, he forcefully took photos of his daughter and posted them on Weibo, probably hoping to use his online reputation and the support of netizens to suppress the dissatisfaction of his family, especially when there were elderly people in the family, his elders. He most likely felt the pressure of a 1-vs-N situation, which is why he brought up the theories of witches and fairies, probably trying to gain the support of other parents.

However, things didn’t go as planned, and he ended up facing backlash instead.

If you argue that netizens don’t know all the facts, what about the reactions of the family members present? In fact, the whole family felt he had gone too far. Some people insist that this is just some hypersensitive and extreme behavior by certain women on the internet. Are the family members present also hypersensitive and extreme? So, are the elderly relatives and Dr. Tao’s wife at home also hypersensitive and extreme?

I can imagine how Dr. Tao’s emotions escalated step by step during the entire process. First, he found his daughter’s behavior displeasing and asked her to do chores (perhaps triggered by her being happy while playing games). The daughter reluctantly complied, but he felt her facial expressions and responses were not obedient enough, so his emotions escalated. He asked his daughter to do chores again, and the family members resisted and tried to dissuade him. This led to another escalation of emotions. He demanded that his daughter wash the dishes, but the whole family opposed him. This further escalated the emotions. He argued with everyone and insisted on his daughter washing the dishes, and the atmosphere within the family became tense, with the elderly starting to complain. This escalated the emotions even further. Finally, he took photos and posted them on Weibo, attempting to gain support from netizens.

Throughout the entire process, it is clear that a middle-aged man was experiencing anxiety about losing authority. He desperately wanted to establish his authority as the head of the family in front of everyone, so he tried to demonstrate his authority over the youngest child, who held the lowest position in the family’s power hierarchy. If there had been any point in the process where the entire family had complied with him, he would probably have been satisfied and stopped. However, that didn’t happen, and the result was a public controversy. He was trying to use the power of the internet to silence his family.

I don’t know what has been happening in Dr. Tao’s family or at his workplace, but it is likely that he has recently faced significant setbacks in some aspect of his life, leading him to feel a threat to his authority and becoming overly sensitive to opposition within his family. This has not only caused the family to disintegrate but also created such a storm on the internet. In all honesty, not only should he reflect on his actions, but his family should also pay attention to his mental health to prevent further deterioration of his unbalanced behavior.

In the end, the child is the most innocent party here. She is essentially the chicken used to scare the monkey, yet she has become the center of public attention. I don’t know how her classmates will react when she goes to school today. Bringing this issue online is a kind of secondary harm to the child. I hope that Dr. Tao will not do such things in the future.

As for whether a girl will become a witch if she doesn’t do household chores, this should be a reason Dr. Tao used in desperation to persuade his family. Based on the family’s reaction, he probably isn’t that extreme in his normal behavior, or the family would have already become accustomed to it. It’s just unclear which witch provoked Dr. Tao to the point where he directed his anger at his own daughter.

I believe the issue lies in the statement “the boundary between a witch and a lady.” When a young girl celebrates her birthday joyfully but is expected to do chores and even wash dishes, does refusing to do so make her a “witch”?

He mentioned in a previous interview that he never did household chores when he was young, and his wife “enjoys doing housework” after they got married. According to this perspective, does that make him a “demon man”?

Teaching a child to wash dishes is nothing unusual; I also believe that as a child grows older, they should become more independent.

The issue here is his statements and choice of words. He is a public figure, and if he were just a doctor at a well-known hospital, nobody would be discussing this online. But now, he’s more like an “internet celebrity,” although this term might sound a bit offensive, it is a fact.

Posting what he believes his daughter did wrong online, and letting others criticize his own daughter, is perplexing in itself, especially on her birthday.

The most crucial point is that he contradicts himself: He wrote on his own Weibo that he didn’t do household chores when he was a child and mentioned in interviews that he still doesn’t do them now.

It’s like throwing a boomerang right back at himself.

This incident also serves as a reminder to all public figures with significant influence to choose their words carefully. As for some of the overly harsh criticism, I believe it goes too far.

I have a similar experience, let me share it.

I am married, and my parents live in the same city, but on opposite sides, about 30 kilometers apart. Our house is small, and usually, it’s my husband and me who go back to visit. My parents don’t come over often.

This June for Father’s Day, my husband and I invited my parents to our small home. To prepare for their visit, we did a thorough cleaning and booked a high-end restaurant.

On Father’s Day, my parents and my uncle came over in their cars first to inspect the cleanliness of our house. They always find fault with how I clean and organize the house, leading to numerous arguments in the past. This time, my husband and I were extremely careful and diligent, striving to meet their expectations. It was a sigh of relief when we finally managed to somewhat please them.

I don’t like cooking at home for my parents because if my mom finds anything wrong with the kitchen arrangement, it can become troublesome. Although I’m a good cook, I’d rather spend a little money on a harmonious family gathering.

After having tea at home and my parents inspecting the cleanliness, we all went to the restaurant together.

I felt the dinner went quite well. My husband, my dad, and my uncle had quite a bit to drink, and I took a few sips of beer myself. The hotpot quality was excellent, and the restaurant even provided yogurt.

Apart from my mom constantly wanting to serve everyone and fussing over every detail, everything else was harmonious. I couldn’t understand why everyone couldn’t serve themselves or ask for what they wanted. My mom would repeatedly use a ladle to scoop food for each person and complained that sitting down wasn’t convenient, so she had to stand up to serve. But my mom had been doing this for years, and I was used to it, so I didn’t mind.

What surprised me was the early morning call I received from my parents the next day. They scolded me for not pouring them wine the previous day. They said my husband had been pouring wine continuously, I hadn’t served them food, and my husband had paid the bill in the end. They felt embarrassed and said if I treated my in-laws the same way, it would raise questions about their upbringing. They contrasted my husband with me, saying he was much better, more considerate, and willingly paid the bill.

I was furious.

It’s true; I poured less wine. First, I saw my husband pouring, so I didn’t want to compete. Second, the hotpot was steaming, and I was sitting in the smoky spot with the air conditioning on high, so I was sweating throughout the meal. Going around the large, round hotpot to pour wine was indeed inconvenient.

Most importantly, everyone at the table was family – my husband, my parents, and my uncle. Although I know my parents like to emphasize table manners, I can perform well in front of outsiders. I’ve been trained to be very skilled in the etiquette of toasting and dealing with such situations since I was a child, and my parents are well aware of it. Yet they still focused on my performance from the previous day, thinking it didn’t uphold their dignity.

They only saw my husband diligently pouring wine at the dinner table but didn’t see that the idea of Father’s Day was mine, and I planned and directed it all. My husband was the one who didn’t have to worry about anything, even though we had discussed it in advance. I suggested he pay the bill to make it look better, but we both knew it was from our joint finances.

I was so angry I couldn’t think straight.

I suddenly remembered that I was the one who carefully opened the yogurt for everyone and handed out straws. However, when I brought this up, my mom first said she didn’t notice and then changed her story, saying that pouring wine was more important than serving yogurt. It felt like she was being unreasonable.

A family dinner should have been a relaxed and enjoyable occasion, but many parents turn it into a “performance,” insisting on polite gestures and formalities to display their high status and happiness. What’s even more alarming is that they readily elevate minor issues to the level of questioning someone’s upbringing.

Of course, I understand that in Chinese culture, dining isn’t just about eating; it’s about building relationships, showing respect, and saving face.

But couldn’t we save these performances for official gatherings and just enjoy a simple meal at home? Perhaps what’s missing in many Chinese families is a sense of relaxation and a genuine experience. Many parents manage to turn everything into a tiresome affair.

By the way, ever since Father’s Day, every time my parents invite my husband and me to dinner, I try to persuade them to eat at home, and I actively offer to cook. The reason is simple: without waitstaff at home, we have to prepare everything ourselves, and there’s no time for empty rituals. As the chef, I have a legitimate reason to focus on discussing the food rather than continuously pouring drinks and toasting.

Even as an adult who is married, my parents' table manners and the subsequent drama have left me with something like PTSD. I can’t help but wonder how a 12-year-old girl feels in such situations?

Originally, celebrating a child’s birthday with a dinner gathering should be a joyful occasion. However, having them roll up Peking duck, serve soup, wash dishes… Is this a form of education, or is it a way to exert control, exemplifying the “my daughter is growing up” notion? Or, even after washing dishes, will there be more demands like cutting fruits, arranging a fruit platter, no TV, and going home to do homework?

As a public figure, since you’ve chosen to make household matters public, it’s necessary to address them thoroughly. I remember in Dr. Tao’s live promotion for his book, he mentioned actively preventing his daughter from developing myopia. He didn’t mention restricting her from careers that require good vision after myopia, but rather, not tarnishing the reputation of his own ophthalmology practice (roughly, this was the idea). At the time, this statement seemed odd, but now, seeing how his daughter’s birthday played out, it’s clear that nurturing and defining attributes of altruism versus self-interest are crucial. Dr. Tao clearly hasn’t learned from past experiences: someone who is overly altruistic is susceptible to harm from extremely self-centered individuals.

Of course, some extreme comments from internet users are quite harsh. Victims of doctor-patient conflicts don’t automatically become good parents. Parents who restrain their children’s happiness for the sake of the long term often believe they are acting in the child’s best interest. However, this constant deferral of gratification may ultimately lead to both the child and the parents losing their ability to experience joy, as is evident in the current situation.

The standards of a “lady” in the eyes of others can be challenging to meet. Being a “witch” who does things that make you happy might be a better choice.

On the child’s birthday, the child’s close friends are not around, and there’s no visit to the child’s favorite places. What’s left for the child is a group of elders who expect her to serve dishes and roll up Peking duck, and then they wonder why it’s so difficult for the child to strike a pose or make a heart with her fingers. Wasn’t she having a great time playing games with her friends? It truly seems like asking a question when you already know the answer. Moreover, in my view, serving meals and doing dishes are meaningful household chores, but what’s the meaning of serving dishes and rolling up Peking duck for others? It feels like an underage version of the drinking culture.

Let’s talk about household chores. There’s no problem with children doing household chores; every member of the family has a responsibility to contribute to the household. So, as long as Dr. Tao himself also participates in household chores, there’s no issue. However, his junior sister mentioned that Dr. Tao rents a place near the hospital, while his wife and daughter live in the southern fifth ring road, which implies that Dr. Tao is unlikely to be involved in household chores on a regular basis. That’s where the awkwardness lies.

  1. Washing dishes makes you a lady, not washing makes you a witch.

    Walking dishwasher advertisements, this is it.

    If you dare not wash dishes today, you’ll dare not study tomorrow,

    and the day after tomorrow, you’ll dare to become a witch with a ghostly boy. Can I speak to the old Deng?

    The inventor of the dishwasher should be in hell, tied to a pole, repenting.

    Too terrifying.

    What I’m talking about is that imagination is too terrifying.

  2. “Make a heart, strike a pose, why is it so difficult? When playing games, sitting on the sofa, chatting with online gaming friends from all over the world while playing, it’s so much fun that the corners of your mouth reach your ears.”

    “Have a drink, accompany with a smile, why is it so hard?”

    Familiar, right?

    According to today’s netizens, it should be “Have a damn drink, I eat eat eat eat eat eat.”

    Don’t turn your family into an office.

  3. I support the truly equal reciprocity type more.

    “During meals, let the daughter serve food to the elders, she did it obediently; make Peking duck rolls for the uncle and aunt, she did it obediently; serve dishes to mom, she did it obediently.”

    Elders served food to the child, and the child also served food to the elders.

    Mothers nurtured their children, and the children served dishes to their mothers.

    No comments on uncles and aunts, they are celebrating together on a birthday, which probably signifies the care they’ve given.

    You raise me when I’m young, and I’ll take care of you when you’re old.

    Love is mutual.

    Today, forcing your child to wash dishes on their birthday is probably due to a bit of authority and fear during the formation of their character in adolescence.

    Fear that the child might become rebellious and distant in the future.

    Like an anxious old father.

    I can also imagine from between the lines that this person is likely a successful individual, busy with their career, leaving limited time for the family.

    Suddenly, they find that their daughter no longer feels close to them.

    It’s inconvenient to ask, and it’s also difficult to let loose and have fun.

    Perhaps the child spends more time with the phone than with this dad.

    There’s a bit of a gap in their role within the family.

    They can only rely on a bit of lingering authority to regain the role of a gentle comforter.

    Unfortunately, using power to suppress will only push them further away.

    Netizens are just here for some fun,

    knowing that there are no longstanding grudges in the family,

    just recalling authority PTSD.

    The child has already gained face in front of relatives and friends,

    so tolerating a little reluctance to wash dishes is also acceptable, right?

Looking at people should avoid making assumptions.

For example, when we see someone being very kind to animals, it’s natural to think that they must be even better to their own children.

I’ll tell you, not necessarily.

I teach in a high school. I once had a student whose father had an extreme love for all kinds of animals and plants. His care for animals and plants was so meticulous, full of love and patience.

However, when he reluctantly attended a parent-teacher meeting once, he didn’t even know if his child was in the first or second year of high school or which class he was in. As far as I know, their family is a typical example of a father-absent parenting style. Anything in the family, including anything related to the child, he never cared about. The reason he came to the parent-teacher meeting that time was because it was a requirement that either the father or mother had to attend, and the child’s mother had just undergone surgery the day before. Before he came, he actually asked his child’s mother, “Can you go?” In her essay, the child wrote that when she was in primary school, her mother was on a business trip, and she was at home with her father. She had a high fever, and her father, well aware of her condition, left her alone in the room, ignoring her, and didn’t even buy her a meal. If she wanted to drink water, she had to do it herself when she felt best, stumbling to the living room. He waited until her mother came home and then took her to the hospital, where she stayed for almost two months.

But a father like this can stay up for two days and nights without sleep or food, taking care of a sick puppy with great care.

For example, a zealous volunteer who helps others and serves in charity organizations year-round may not care about their parents or elders at home, and may even physically abuse their parents (perhaps due to specific family conflicts or childhood trauma).

Or, a teacher who is very good to students and is respected and liked by them may be an abusive husband at home.

These kinds of situations are very common.

This means that one aspect of a person being good doesn’t represent their entire being. Outsiders cannot judge all aspects of a person based solely on one aspect.

One aspect cannot help us understand the whole picture of a person.

Dr. Tao Yong is highly skilled in medicine and has high moral standards; he is an absolutely good doctor. He is known and admired by more people because he suffered from violent medical harassment. Yet this only represents his role as “Dr. Tao Yong, the ophthalmologist.”

An outstanding and respected ophthalmologist does not necessarily make a perfect husband and father.

In fact, no one is perfect; we are all imperfect.

Regarding Dr. Tao Yong’s specific behavior on his daughter’s birthday, out of respect for Dr. Tao, I will refrain from commenting for now.

But I want to talk about myself.

I learned to play the piano from a young age, and my spare time was occupied by it, so I never did any housework.

My father is a great cook, but when I was young, he never let me into the kitchen. He believed that housework was not something that women should or must do, nor was it a task that had to be borne solely by women in a family. He said that even if I learned to do housework one day, it should primarily be for my own benefit and not to serve a particular family. He also believed that housework was something that could be learned easily and, if needed, could be learned later; there was no need to cultivate a girl to do housework from a young age.

Of course, this was just the reason he came up with to spare me from learning housework at a young age. It might not be correct, and it only represents his views, not the correct ones. I grew up with this view, and it was often criticized by friends and relatives. However, I did manage to learn to do housework smoothly as I grew up. At present, I can not only cook, wash dishes, do laundry, and clean, but I can also unclog a toilet and even do needlework like knitting scarves and sweaters independently, all out of personal interest.

See this answer on Zhihu for details:

If you have a daughter, would you teach her to do housework so that she won’t be looked down upon by her in-laws after getting married, or would you develop her skills to have a good job and use money to solve household problems?

So, I want to say there’s no need to be anxious. Things like washing dishes and cooking are really not difficult, and most of the basic skills can be learned when needed in the future.

Moreover, with the advancement of technology, there are now dishwashers for washing dishes, and there are even robot vacuum cleaners for sweeping. Although as a technology layman, I have never used them, what I really want to say is that even if you can’t learn, high-tech products can do the work for you.

Before I went to college, I had never washed my own clothes (except for underwear and socks). One weekend, when I couldn’t go home due to an exam, I washed a basin of clothes by myself and even washed my roommate’s clothes at the same time.

You don’t need to learn; you’ll get the hang of it, and you’ll even do a good job.

Who has never seen a pig run?

The first time I cooked, I learned on the spot, step by step according to someone else’s recipe. The teriyaki chicken and rice I made, to put it bluntly, smelled better than my mom’s.

Is there really a need to learn from a young age?

Let alone the fact that nowadays, technology is becoming more and more advanced. For example, there are dishwashers for washing dishes, and there are even robot vacuum cleaners for sweeping. Although as a technology layman, I have never used them, what I really want to say is that even if you can’t learn, high-tech products can do the work for you.

The author: @FingerPaintingFantasy

My Viewpoints:

  1. So, people are not perfect. A good doctor does not necessarily excel in every aspect, especially in family matters. A doctor who is busy at work and accustomed to being straightforward and uncompromising, whether dealing with patients or subordinates, can suddenly become an equal and understanding father at home? How is that possible!

Trust me, these people, when they see their own children living a slightly happier life, their ingrained belief that “one must endure hardship to become a superior person” will start to torment them. Because their lives have followed this path, and for generations, they have only known this way. Don’t ask me how I know.

  1. Putting myself in Dr. Tao’s shoes, I can be forgiving. After all, when I read Dr. Tao’s narrative, I have a sense of déjà vu.

If I were to take my daughter’s perspective and travel to the year 19, what I would say to Dr. Tao is, “Well, I don’t care about these trivial matters as much now. After turning 30, I often feel a significant decline in sensitivity to life and become quite numb to many things. Even if you want to compensate me now, I can’t feel it, and if you want me to forgive, I can’t summon the emotions. I can only say that with the passage of time, I’ve let it go.”

Your daughter is only 12 years old now, so if you want to make some changes after reading the comments from netizens, I suggest you act quickly.

  1. My personal advice is to treat your daughter better and see her as an individual. Otherwise, when she’s over 30 and you barely speak to her all year round, don’t be too surprised. (¬_¬)ノ Don’t go online at that time and ask what to do if your daughter is not close to you.

  2. So, I suggest that people with a certain level of public exposure, like yourself, try not to expose all the private matters of your family. You gain fame by treating patients, and now you’re putting your family’s private matters out there for everyone to see. Do you really expect everyone to accept your parenting philosophy just like they do your medical skills? Fame, in any field, is about what you “offer,” not about you as a person. But many celebrities often forget this after they become popular. They really think they can sell tickets even when they’re sitting here eating a bowl of noodles, right?

Like, J.K. Rowling became famous for writing books, and people loved her fantasy novels, but she (maybe) mistakenly thought that everyone liked everything about her. The result was a term on the internet called “JK Trolling.” Countless male celebrities become popular because of their looks, but they end up damaging their image as loving husbands. Qiao Biluo became popular because of her voice, but she ruined her image as a pretty girl (and made a mistake). There are countless examples like these.

If you want to be a celebrity, then stick to your strengths that made you famous in the first place. Don’t dig up dirt on everyone, and try not to give others the opportunity to judge your “dark secrets.” Besides, talk less. Maximizing your strengths while minimizing your weaknesses is common sense in the world of social networks. Try to keep your weaknesses out of the public eye as much as possible; it’s a safer approach. There’s a lot of complexity here, my friend.

  1. Your writing skills really need improvement.

Especially this paternalistic tone and writing style that smacks of self-satisfaction should be changed. Even if you take a cold and factual tone like writing a research paper, it’s much better than this overly proud style that can’t be restrained in between the lines.

This writing style, if you really want to write, I suggest you keep it in your department’s work group and not harass your subordinates. Even in the group, there will be well-organized praises. Posting it on the public internet is just asking for trouble.

Our generation has long internalized and deeply ingrained the various so-called traditional expectations of women since childhood, even when it comes to our own daughters, it’s hard to avoid applying the standards of past eras, let alone our wives.

Because netizens like to idolize people,

Tao Yong’s outstanding medical skills do not necessarily mean excellence in all aspects, but netizens tend to highly praise individuals with highlights, as if even their farts are believed to have the power to prolong life.

I dislike how some people often, because of “celebrity quotes,” attribute absurd statements to individuals with exceptional talents in certain specific areas, treating their insights into unrelated matters as if they were scripture.

Previously, there seemed to be a professor who insisted on commenting on matters outside their field and got criticized, prompting the Chinese Academy of Sciences to advise professors not to comment too extensively on matters beyond their expertise.

I do it for your own good," so you must unconditionally obey my authority.

This anti-intellectual teaching method can no longer deceive anyone.

Young people have already realized that these “grand principles” and “for your own good” arguments only lead to harm without any positive effects. They result in psychological trauma and various internal conflicts in adulthood.

Behind it all, many parents and elders cannot stand to see their children happy because they grew up in self-sacrifice and can’t bear to see their children not only free from self-sacrifice but also leading happy lives.

Therefore, they intervene, engage in moral and logical coercion, and make sure their children are subjected to suffering.

This pattern of behavior must end.

The skepticism of netizens also indicates that the future may align with our expectations.

Awakening the current generation of young people can save the next generation of children.

After seeing Tao Yong’s short essay this morning, I was indeed quite emotional, so I decided not to speak first.

I used to be a daughter who grew up under strict demands. Seeing this kind of thing, it’s hard not to relate for a second and trigger PTSD. (Especially after Tao Yong’s junior sister came out to “explain,” my PTSD got worse. My father was also very busy in the past and rarely spent time with me. So, in the few times I could see him, he almost every second efficiently criticized me, telling me what’s wrong and what’s not. Every second demanded that I must do this and can’t do that.)

I fully understand why people on both sides of the current event have these thoughts. I have always had the greatest confusion about how to be a parent.

Then, I went to the barber shop tonight and met Teacher Tony, who cured me.

Maybe because I was too happy and couldn’t hold it in, halfway through my haircut, Teacher Tony, who was completely unfamiliar to me, suddenly said, ‘My daughter ranked fifth in her grade!’

Later, he shared many stories about him and his daughter. He worked in Beijing as a migrant worker while his daughter studied in their hometown middle school. This year, she got into the best local high school. After entering high school, his daughter often told him on the phone that high school math and physics were difficult, and she couldn’t solve the problems. He was very nervous because he couldn’t solve them either, but he told himself, ‘Since I can’t do anything, don’t add pressure to her. No matter how she performs in the exams, don’t scold her.’ As a result, his daughter ranked fifth in her grade, and he couldn’t help but ‘scold’ her, ‘How high do you want to set your standards? You scared your dad!’

Then he calculated that since he entered the barbering industry as an apprentice, the number of people who have had their hair done by him could fill a stadium. Yet, he still finds joy in barbering. So, he told his daughter, ‘You should have confidence. Maybe our family doesn’t have other genes, but we definitely have the gene to achieve great things by persistently doing the simplest things. You’ve already surpassed me in education at such a young age. In the future, I can only be satisfied, satisfied, and satisfied with you!’ Now, he doesn’t have many things he can do, but he can guarantee that when his daughter feels stressed, he will take leave to be with her and massage her scalp to help her sleep well every day.

He also said he would continue to be the ‘Curl King’ in the CBD chain store because he has a dream. His daughter will go to university in Beijing, then graduate and find a job in one of the buildings nearby, and the family will be reunited. He might not be the richest or most successful parent, but he wants to use his unique talents to become the youngest, most handsome parent and the one most like a friend to his daughter.

After listening to Teacher Tony talk all night, on the way home, I suddenly understood: simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. The kind of parents I want to be is just like him.

Whether it’s the current me or the 12-year-old me voting between Dr. Tao and Teacher Tony, I would vote for Teacher Tony. All I’ve ever needed is this, or even less: Don’t go under the knife for things I like just because of other reasons (like other kids “turning bad”). Don’t plan my future for me, just admit that there are things you don’t understand, don’t force arrangements where you don’t understand. Don’t be too satisfied with me, just have a little trust in me, don’t demonize me just because I’m not being watched by them. That’s enough. Don’t become a handsome guy through medical aesthetics, just focus a little more on yourself, don’t make me feel like the debt of gratitude is accumulating every day.

That’s enough.

Later, I remembered what many ‘happily overwhelmed’ fathers I met by chance had said.

A massage teacher told me that his daughter never disappointed him, never made him worry, and everyone envied him. He felt that he was neither smart nor knowledgeable, and having such a good child born into his family must be because the older generation had done good deeds and had blessings. So, he stopped thinking too much and just treated others well, continued to do good things, and believed that everything would go well for his daughter in the future.

A novice father shared with me that he found life to be truly amazing. As long as he guessed what the baby wanted and helped him achieve it, he could witness miracles. It turns out that babies are born knowing what they should do when they grow to a certain age. As long as you don’t interfere casually and follow the natural order, babies can explore and learn everything on their own.

When I was working, a customer told me that he didn’t force his child to be excellent academically; he focused on improving himself. When his child was in kindergarten, the teacher often reported that his child was playful, had a short attention span, and couldn’t keep up with others in learning. They suggested considering sending him to a ‘remedial class’ (a place for children with attention deficit or other intellectual disabilities). His family was anxious and urged him to go to the hospital and enroll in various classes. He suddenly thought, ‘If my child goes to the hospital and is diagnosed as intellectually disabled, there’s no hope for him in life. What should I do? What can I do to give him a few more happy years?’ So, he went to take many exams himself, changed his career, and set a goal to save money for his child’s retirement. As for his child, he could play whatever he liked. If he had already drawn the unfortunate card of congenital deficiencies, he couldn’t lose that bit of happiness. However, his child did not have congenital deficiencies. In the later years of primary school, he suddenly improved, liked sitting down to study, and performed just as well as others. Clearly, the standards that determined a child to be intellectually disabled were flawed.

It turns out that being a parent requires a bit of humility and contentment.

It feels a bit suffocating, but it’s mainly influenced by my own emotions and sentiments. I believe many netizens' emotions are similarly stirred up, for the most part.

There has never been a so-called abstract “correct” way of parenting. Everything depends on the specific circumstances at that time and place, and conclusions are often controversial.

For example, several points of contention in the issue:

Should a child’s birthday celebration prioritize the child’s feelings?

Whether to prioritize the child’s feelings depends on the nature of the party being held at that time. I once attended a little sister’s birthday party where she invited a group of classmates to play. However, due to her inability to handle hosting duties, she had a great time herself but made several classmates cry. So, afterward, I specifically talked to her and said that when classmates come to your party, as the host, you should consider everyone’s feelings and not make everyone unhappy just for your own happiness. Even if it’s a birthday party hosted by family, you shouldn’t overly indulge yourself under the excuse of birthday mood. Of course, what I said is debatable because the boundaries of so-called happiness and mood are situational and need to be assessed case by case.

Should washing dishes be a necessary skill for girls?

Do girls have to become ladies?

These two questions are essentially the same, and they should be considered based on the specific context at the time, rather than abstractly.

So, it’s worth repeating, the controversies among netizens primarily reflect their own emotional attachments.

Dr. Tao is certainly not a psychiatrist.

While Dr. Tao’s words may carry a certain weight, I can’t help but feel that in his approach to parenting his daughter, he shares similarities with Huang Lei.

Both are individuals who excel in their respective professional domains and wield a degree of authority. However, when it comes to their children, they adopt a rather ‘traditional’ fatherly image.

The point of contention here is not whether children can wash dishes, but rather why, as fathers, they feel compelled to assert their authority on their daughters' birthdays, in front of relatives and friends.

This somewhat resembles a characteristic of Chinese parents, where children are often treated more like pets than individuals. Besides displaying a cheerful demeanor, children are not allowed to exhibit any negative emotions, especially in front of their parents. It might sound harsh, but that’s often the case. Parents tend to prioritize their control over their children more than their children’s self-esteem. In their eyes, children are just children and should not talk back or defend themselves. Whether at home or in the presence of relatives and friends, parents are quick to deliver a paternal or maternal lecture. The more they make the child feel inadequate, the more they believe their parenting is successful. Ideally, the child should even apologize in the end.

Children value their birthdays more than anything else. Out of 364 days in a year when they could do chores or wash dishes, why choose that specific day? Out of 364 days when they could help with relatives or prepare the roast duck, why choose that day? Out of 364 days when they could share their educational philosophy on social media, why choose that day? It’s almost as if they can’t let go of the idea that they are still not being given a break, even after celebrating their own birthdays. What’s even more bewildering is that Dr. Tao has publicly stated multiple times that his parents took care of him throughout his childhood, and even after marriage, his wife handles the household chores. If he genuinely dislikes doing these tasks, and if he associates success with them, does that not create a paradox? In a different context, isn’t this akin to ordinary parents insisting that their children must excel academically?

As an internet celebrity, Dr. Tao perhaps underestimated the power of the internet and overestimated himself. The internet is always a double-edged sword, and no one can leave a deep impression and emerge unscathed. Rather than enjoying the adulation, it’s important to maintain a balanced perspective. After the previous incident that garnered sympathy and approval from the public, Dr. Tao may have felt that this extended beyond his role as a doctor to his entire persona. However, this incident serves as a reminder that he is also human, not infallible, and not everything he says will be met with applause.

So, why is there so much attention on this issue? I don’t believe it’s a matter of a biased online community or radical Weibo users. It’s simply that those who were not treated properly as ‘children’ back then have now grown up.

Medical disturbance is truly abhorrent.

Without medical disturbances, he would have spent a significant amount of time performing surgeries, continuing to be a good doctor, and creating a +10000 value for society, instead of investing his time in the unfamiliar field of education, which contributes a -10 value to society.

Can’t stand to see children happy.

When my child was almost 5 years old, I brought him back from kindergarten one day. I had some work to attend to, so I went to my office.

About an hour later, I called him and asked what he was doing at home. He told me he was washing dishes.

When I got home, not only had he finished washing the dishes, but he had also tidied up the house. I said to him, ‘Now my time belongs to you. Let’s play together.’

So, we made something delicious together.

After preparing the food, we played together for a long time.

What to play and how to play, I followed his lead.

Can you guess where a child’s motivation to voluntarily do housework comes from?

My neighbor’s friend has been pampered and spoiled by his family since childhood. Everything has always been served to him on a silver platter. He has never cooked a meal or washed a dish in his life. As he grew up, he can’t even carry his own bags, and he won’t bend down to tie his shoelaces if they come undone.

In contrast, I started helping with household chores at the age of ten. I would mop the floor, pick vegetables, and wash dishes. Relatives and neighbors praised me for being responsible, diligent, and capable.

Now, we are both working as food delivery drivers.