A popular parenting blogger with millions of online followers has apologized after receiving backlash for her post bragging about leaving her 6-year-old daughter home alone as punishment for unfinished homework.
The blogger Zou Yue — popularly known by her online alias Zhou Yueyue — said her post on the “educational method” that highlighted harsh parenting techniques was “inappropriate.” The post has since been deleted.
“As a child care blogger with millions of fans, I assume the social responsibility of being a public figure, and I should spread the right child care methods and positive social energy,” Zou wrote Thursday on microblogging platform Weibo.
In a Weibo post Monday, the blogger wrote about her decision to leave her 6-year-old unaccompanied while the family went on a weekend getaway. Zou said she had taught the child to boil water and prepare instant noodles before leaving and had kept a watchful eye via surveillance camera.
Her daughter was able to finish her homework by 10:30 p.m. and joined her parents and two siblings at an amusement park the following day, according to screenshots of the mother’s post. In the same post, Zou said her child had learned a lesson about “never wasting time again,” and the mother said she stood by her own admittedly “cruel” behavior.
Zou’s actions, though condemned by many online, are not uncommon in the country. Chinese families have traditionally emphasized strict education rules, and online influencers like Zou are putting a modern-day spin on such “spare the rod, spoil the child” parenting techniques.
The rise of the internet has also given birth to several so-called celebrity mothers who have gained popularity by sharing parenting tips online. Zou herself rose to fame through posts chronicling her children’s diets and extracurricular activities, as well as her own anecdotes about family life.
Some of her previous entries, however, have also contained problematic parenting tips. In one of her older Weibo posts, Zou tells other parents that, should they wish to beat their children, they should close the doors and windows, pull the curtains to avoid witnesses, and turn on the air conditioning to keep from sweating.
Zou’s decision to leave her daughter home alone could be considered illegal under Chinese regulations. While abusing children is forbidden under the country’s anti-domestic violence law — which stipulates that guardians of minors should not be violent when disciplining their children — a new draft of the country’s law on the protection of minors states that parents or guardians should not leave children under the age of 8 unattended.
Xue Peng, a lawyer specializing in minor protection at Beijing Yingke Law Firm, told Sixth Tone the new rule remains part of a draft that has yet to be approved or go into effect.
“The article has been added based on practices in the U.S. and Europe,” he said. “But considering our country’s conditions, possible punishments for violations have not yet been determined. In the future, administrative punishment (warnings or fines) may be emphasized.”
Online, many are divided over Zou’s parenting techniques. While some say she was too harsh, others argue it’s a mother’s duty to discipline a child and should not constitute abuse.
“Some say that when a parent punishes a child for their mistakes, it’s bullying and controlling … but if someone makes a mistake that goes unpunished, aren’t we just encouraging more mistakes?” one Weibo user commented under Zou’s apology.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: Tuchong)