Parenting Gone Mad? Mother Told Daughter She Was Adopted to Improve Grades

Parenting Gone Mad? Mother Told Daughter She Was Adopted to Improve Grades
Oct 11, 2013 Translated by

Editor’s note: We have all heard of Tiger Mothers and their distinct parenting styles, but this tale takes Tiger parenting to its most extreme. This story was translated from ifeng and details the story of Mrs Shen, a mother who was worried her daughter would be lazy and unmotivated due to living a comfortable life. Her solution was to let her daughter think she was adopted for 10 years. Mrs Shen claims her technique worked, but without hearing the daughter’s side it is hard to know for sure.

Fearing that her child would become spoilt and not work hard, Mrs Shen decided to make her daughter believe she was adopted. Both Mrs Shen and her husband had good jobs and were fairly well-off and because of this Mrs Shen worried that living in such an environment would make her daughter spoilt. So, she told her 13 year old daughter that the girl’s real mother had died and that Mr and Mrs Shen had adopted her. Weirdly it worked in the way Mrs Shen had hoped: the daughter became more independent and her grades improved. It wasn’t until the daughter was married and had a successful career that she was told the truth: her ‘adoptive mother’ was in fact her biological mother.
A reporter for Shenyang Evening News rang Mrs Shen to find out the full story of this unusual parenting technique.   

Warning: ‘I’m not your mother’

“Your mother died, I’m not your mother,” Mrs Shen told her daughter, Chengcheng, more than 10 years ago when Chengcheng was only in fourth grade. “I only provide for your studies, your university, after that you can’t count on me.” The daughter, not believing her mother, laughed: “That's not real, you’re joking?” But Mrs Shen stayed firm, and left Chengcheng scratching her head. 

Result: The daughter changed

Afterwards, there was a dramatic change in the daughter, she studied better, endured hardships, her grades before had been middling but she became one of the top five in the class, she was no longer arrogant or spoilt and instead became obedient.  Before her Zhongkao (middle school exams) Chengcheng applied to 20 middle schools. When Mrs. Shen asked for her reason, Chengcheng said, “At these 20 schools I will have the opportunity to board for a year. I want an independent life.”

Chengcheng’s Gaokao (University entrance exams) year coincided with the SARS epidemic and classes were intermittent, but Chengcheng’s schoolwork was not held up and she got into Dalian Railway Institute with a score of 519.

During her four years at university Chengcheng studied hard, never got a job in case it interfered with her studies and when she graduated she was employed by a company based in Shanghai.

Surprise: Daughter didn’t believe the truth

When her daughter was successful and independent Mrs Shen thought it was time to tell her the truth, “In fact your mother didn’t die, I’m your mother!” Chengcheng was cautious, “really?”

“I told you you weren’t mine to motivate you to work, to get rid of your faults, to make you study well so that you would get a good job, you must understand my motives!” Mrs Shen said.

On the phone to the reporter, Mrs Shen went on to say, “My daughter is beautiful and successful, she makes more than 6000 RMB a month in salary and has a good husband; don’t say she isn’t happy!”

At the end of the interview Mrs Shen said “Maybe there are some people who don’t agree with my education methods, but if I hadn’t of done it, she would have been satisfied with her life as it was, but now, she is heading towards a bright future.”

This method won’t work for all families

Many people don’t agree with Mrs Shen’s methods. A university graduate, Xiaowang, said: “I’m on Chengcheng’s side, there can be no replacement for a mother’s love, even though she is successful now, with that one sentence, Mrs Shen created a scar on Chengcheng’s heart”.

Psychologist Huang Yu argued that “part of a child’s education is to let them be independent, but Mrs Shen’s method will not apply to all families. We should be more focused on a child’s spiritual growth not just on their grades.”

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Keywords: parenting styles parenting techniques Tiger mothers


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this mother's behaviour is kind of strange.but it can not stands for all mothers in china because most of mothers in china will use positive way to entourage their children .maybe when children are very young ,they are strict way to their kids, but when they grow up ,the ways of education can be changed and guide them on a mature way .this mother's solution is useful for some children who are spoilt ,lazy and arrogant because they get used to live in a comfortable environment ,so i don't oppose this mother.but ,i hope much more mother can use the positive way such as guide them through the communication or establish a good model of them ,thus ,children can change their attitudes effctively and understand his or her mother's thoughts and education.

Oct 14, 2013 00:13 Report Abuse



Welcome back.

Oct 13, 2013 22:06 Report Abuse



It is very selfish for one to see their children as a form of old-age investment, but unfortunately this is true for many Chinese parents. A Chinese friend of mine told her mom that didn't want to have a child, but was told "if you don't have a child, you will regret it and will be lonely in your olden days. And the family name should be carried on. Oh my.....

Oct 11, 2013 18:45 Report Abuse



Seeing kids as investment for retiring is not the strangest thing. In fact it actually helps 'the economy' since it pushes people to work hard and improve. You can't deny that these days a lot of children are born into such comfort (kids below the age of 12 with iPhone/PS3/etc.) that the future prospects become quite lame. Lame as in: They already have what they want, without having to graft for it. So to them, what's the point of working hard? This turns entire generations lazy. That's not to say that all parents should start scarring their kids emotionally but hopefully a more middle of the road approach will work.

Oct 17, 2013 11:59 Report Abuse