hat tip-Booker Rising

Amy Chua: “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”

The Chinese-American professor at Yale Law School pens a long op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, which has gotten more than 3,500 reader comments. Dr. Chua has a new parenting memoir out, called Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother “A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

• attend a sleepover
• have a playdate
• be in a school play
• complain about not being in a school play
• watch TV or play computer games
• choose their own extracurricular activities
• get any grade less than an A
• not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
• play any instrument other than the piano or violin
• not play the piano or violin.

I’m using the term ‘Chinese mother’ loosely. I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers, by choice or otherwise. I’m also using the term ‘Western parents’ loosely. Western parents come in all varieties. All the same, even when Western parents think they’re being strict, they usually don’t come close to being Chinese mothers. For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments 30 minutes every day. An hour at most. For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part. It’s hours two and three that get tough.”

First of all, I believe Professor Chua is patting herself on the back way too soon. Her children haven’t even made it through ‘Fool’s Hill’ (13-19). When they are ensconced in some Ivy League school and haven’t lost their minds at the first taste of real freedom away from her, and have learned the delicate work/life balance and excelled at both, THEN she can pat herself on the back.

I look at the list and there are some issues for me (piano/violin and nothing else?) there’s a whole world of instruments out there that are beautiful and if you want to get the benefits of what music brings to a child, they have to love the music that they create. very few children that pick up an instrument will make it a profession, but it is the love of the music that YOU create is what keeps the child going, year after year.

The playdates thing – um, what happened to your child socializing with others? Sleepovers, I somewhat understand, if you don’t really know the family, but playdates, where you’re sitting right there with the kids?

Be in a school play? I don’t understand this in the least. Expressing creativity in a child is a positive thing. There are so many things to do in a play, and the community involvement, the knowing of what it feels like to be a part of something, and to participate in it, is a wonderful thing. I didn’t act; couldn’t sew a costume, or was artistic enough to design sets. What I did have was organizational skills, and helped keep the trains running during the production, making sure all the little details wound up being taken care of so that the presentation to the school seemed flawless. Even if you aren’t the artistic type, I think there’s something to be learned from them.

If a child doesn’t pick their own extracurriculars, then why would they stick with them when it became tiresome. One of the most effective retorts Mama and Daddy had with me was – ‘ you chose to be in this; you have an obligation to fulfill your commitment.’ If it’s not something the kid chose in the first place, then this logic doesn’t work.

I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with setting high standards for your children. But, you must give them the space to be children. What if they can’t be the number 1 student in certain subjects- does that make them a failure? I’m not really a follower of the ‘self-esteem at all costs’ type of parenting, but I’ve seen enough wound up overachievers that were a hairsbreath away from a suicide note to know that there has to be some sort of a happy medium.

I was amused reading the comments thread over at the WSJ. Nothing like the perceived insult to White upper-middle class folks to get them to go overboard-it was 3500 comments, and that was the middle of last week….LOL

I don’t have children yet, but I think I’m going to be Old School if ever I have them. I’m not gonna be their ‘ friend’. I agree with Mama on that.
My mother was clear-

” I’m not your friend-I’m your Mama. I will never be your friend, and in doing so, I might be dead and buried, but you’ll see – I’ll be the best friend you ever had.”

She didn’t have to be dead and buried for me to have recognized the wisdom of her words.

I think Professor Chua was just having some fun. At least I hope she was.

So, what say you, JJP…..Are Chinese mothers better?

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