to address TC's question
How does one teach a child personal responsibility for their actions given the "chabuduo"(sp?) culture of Taiwan?
This is a very good question and IMO phrased very well. I think in Taiwan it's an impossible task given that the concepts of fairness, common sense, truth and honesty are all subordinate to the concept of face.
The way people communicate is so much influenced by this 'face thing', the way straight answers are avoided like a disease, the way vague and fuzzy & sugarcoated language is used to avoid confrontation all serves the purpose of creating an environment in which personal responsibility & accountability is reduced, is avoided, is non-existent. As a consequence "chabuduo culture" is rampant in every aspect of life, schooling, traffic, law enforcement and each and every communicational situation.
After so many years in Taiwan I felt ok with all this, but being a father changed everything.
It is difficult seeing my son growing up here.
A tiny little example from this very morning.
I brought him to the kindergarten and helped him change into the canvas shoes provided by the kindy. He complained that they are too big and that it hurts him walking in it the whole day. (these are his shoes, he wears them every day).
One of the kindy lady asked what the problem was (we were speaking German) and when I told her that his feet hurt in those shoes she laughed and told him "big shoes are better than too small ones". I thought "WTF". In this moment the boss of the kindergarten came to great us and when she heard about 'the problem' she came up with "ah, you will grow into those shoes, that's not a problem".
My natural instinct is to ask them to give my son shoes that fit - my natural instinct is to tell them that their attitude is lacking a little, but doing this I will make them lose face and they will blame me for that.
I will do it anyway cause I love my son.
But if he grows up here he will learn that "chabuduo culture" is the natural way to do things - all my powers as a father can't compete with the whole of Taiwan.
to use Jive Turkey's words
it is important that he reacts correctly rather than just blow with the wind or buckle under pressure
The definition of "correct reaction" here in Taiwan differs a great lot from what I see as correct.