January 8, 2011
A Chinese tiger mom explains why being a hard-ass Asian parent is better for your kids than Western coddlingWow, the WSJ has a book excerpt today, "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior," written by Amy Chua, a Yale law school professor that boggles my mind and sends a chill down my spine. It's her blunt declaration that the values of Chinese (and I'm telescoping it out to include all Asian) mothers are better for raising kids than "Western" parenting style. She acknowledges the stereotype that Asian moms are hard-asses and then goes on to say that being tough on your kids is a Chinese mom's way of showing they know the kids can a) get an A in the class, b) learn that difficult piece on the piano c) excel at everything the Chinese mom says is important. It's just a different way of showing your children you love them, she says. She states her case so emphatically that this essay really just fortifies those American stereotypes. I can hear parents in conservative households murmuring their agreement: "See Martha, I knew there's a reason why those Chinese are always so damned good at math and science!" Here's how the article starts:
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: â€¢ have a playdate â€¢ attend a sleepover â€¢ be in a school play â€¢ complain about not being in a school play â€¢ watch TV or play computer games â€¢ choose their own extracurricular activities â€¢ get any grade less than an A â€¢ not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama â€¢ play any instrument other than the piano or violin â€¢ not play the piano or violin.This has to be a joke, I thought, except the Wall Street Journal probably doesn't have a sense of humor and doesn't run satire pieces. Take this line, for instance: "If a Chinese child gets a Bâ€”which would never happenâ€”there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion." Nope, Chua, who was born in 1962 a year after her parents immigrated to the US, is serious. In fact, this essay is an excerpt from a book being published this week, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother."