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Are Chinese Moms Superior?

By Madeline Holler |

daughter mom, chinese moms superior

Do Chinese moms have the secret to success?

Excellent test-takers. Math whizzes. Fiercely competitive. Virtuosos. What’s that spell? Kids raised by Chinese mothers.

At least that’s how the stereotype goes. And since I’m not so big on stereotypes, that first sentence was a little gross to write.

Not so for Amy Chua, who wrote an essay perpetuating all of those things and more in the  Wall Street Journal over the weekend. “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior” would have been kind of gross to read if it hadn’t been so horrifyingly entertaining. (She’s Chinese, so of course it was excellent!)

In her piece, Chua credits/blames her Chinese mom-ness for any and all of her daughters’ accomplishments while also laughing at those she refers to as “Western” moms, who don’t seem to know what to do about their kids’ runner-up (if that) status. Chinese kids are superior because Chinese moms are superior. Chua generously shares her ancient Chinese secrets.

If “Western” moms want excellent kids, we’re going to have to get on board with the program. What program? For starters, don’t allow your children to do the following [the Wall Street Journal]:

• 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.

Too awful? She offers vague evidence that your “Western” attitude is getting you down:

Despite our squeamishness about cultural stereotypes, there are tons of studies out there showing marked and quantifiable differences between Chinese and Westerners when it comes to parenting. In one study of 50 Western American mothers and 48 Chinese immigrant mothers, almost 70% of the Western mothers said either that “stressing academic success is not good for children” or that “parents need to foster the idea that learning is fun.” By contrast, roughly 0% of the Chinese mothers felt the same way. Instead, the vast majority of the Chinese mothers said that they believe their children can be “the best” students, that “academic achievement reflects successful parenting,” and that if children did not excel at school then there was “a problem” and parents “were not doing their job.” Other studies indicate that compared to Western parents, Chinese parents spend approximately 10 times as long every day drilling academic activities with their children. By contrast, Western kids are more likely to participate in sports teams.

Some solid (-ly stereotypical examples):

Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight As. Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best. Chinese parents can say, “You’re lazy. All your classmates are getting ahead of you.” By contrast, Western parents have to struggle with their own conflicted feelings about achievement, and try to persuade themselves that they’re not disappointed about how their kids turned out.

I’ll hand it to Chua, she knows the talk. She strikes a bundle of parenting nerves — defensiveness for allowing kids to make their own way, fear that a kid making her own way is destined to fail. And naivete: what one might think is successful really isn’t all that fabulous.

She also sells the Chinese mom-ness like a Hooked-on-Phonics infomercial. Just make your three easy payments and follow these 10 easy steps and you’re kid will be a success!

Of course, it’s not that easy. Not all (or even most) kids reared like her daughters are destined for success. And all (certainly not most) kids whose feelings have been considered aren’t destined to live in their parents’ basements. Things aren’t exactly Chinese-mom stellar for even Chua herself.

KJ Dell’Antonia has read the entire book from which this essay was excerpted, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, to be published Tuesday by Penguin Press. The angry and insult-based coaching that Chua endorses in the WSJ piece? It backfires. Her daughter Louise, whom she calls Lulu, eventually rebels.

From Slate‘s Double X:

While the oldest dutifully continues to perform, Lulu rebels. At thirteen, she cuts off her hair in anger, rejects her mother, and begins to denounce Chua and her parenting to everyone she can. “You’re a terrible mother,” Lulu tells Chua. “You’re selfish. You don’t care about anyone but yourself. … Everything you say you do for me is actually for yourself.”

Chua reluctantly eases up on Lulu. She does, she says, the “most Western thing imaginable” and allows Lulu to choose how much music she wants in her life. It feels like a compromise ending, but the compromise is never complete: Chua never eases up on herself. By the book’s end, a teenaged Lulu is putting as much time into tennis as into her music, and Chua is scheming behind her back to improve her performance on the court instead of on the stage.

Chua’s essay has definitely struck a nerve. Already, there are nearly 1,800 comments and 82,000 “likes” from Facebook users. The feedback varies from “yuck! Reverse racism,” to “hey! Jewish moms get even better results!” to “this is how I was raised and I’m miserable.” And it’s true, Chua doesn’t address issues like suicide and burnout and, really, where all this “success” gets kids (besides therapy).

The essay was supposed to leave me, a Western mom, feeling like a hack, a moron and a total pushover who is failing her kids. And, in part, it did. I don’t force my daughter to practice the piano. I let my kids pick and choose their activities. How well they do isn’t the issue. They go to a school that doesn’t even give out grades (and I love that!). My only requirement for them is finishing, honoring commitments — no quitting in the middle, they have to stick out the season.

So why am I left asking if I should push them harder? Why don’t I drill them in academics? How can their lives possibly amount to anything if they’re at sleepovers and practicing for school plays, watching TV and considering taking up the saxophone? Maybe they would be better performers — thereby, better people — if I would call them “garbage” and “fatty” every once in awhile.

But I can’t do that, and I won’t.

My kids’ self-esteem is important, sure. But I’m also aware of the studies that show self-esteem and success aren’t connected. Self-esteem protection isn’t my main focus. What I’m aiming for in parenting is self-reliance and self-assurance.

I want my kids exposed to this messy, lovely and interesting world. And, most of all, I want them to learn from the greatest teacher there is — failure. I want them to start failing when they’re young. And I want them to continue to fail as they get older. I want failure to motivate them, not their mother’s growling commands. I mean, how else do you really learn — I don’t mean memorize, but learn? How else do you get better?

If my kids’ work and dedication has only been to keep me off their backs, to make me shut up, what motivates them when I’m no longer on their backs? When they’re adults? If they’ve seen failure and success as something only I, their mother, can adjudicate, what kind of perspective do they have when they’re on their own? I can’t nag them forever. And I don’t want to.

I’d rather them have walked down the path of failure so often that it’s just another day at the office, another challenge to overcome. Failure — trial and error — that’s the task-master that gets results. Even better results, I dare say, than Chinese moms.

What do you think of Chua’s essay? Were you raised by a Chinese (or Korean, or Jewish or … Chua has a broad definition) mom? Are you one?

More on Babble

About Madeline Holler

madeline-holler

Madeline Holler

Madeline Holler is a writer, journalist, and blogger. She has written for Babble since the site launched in 2006. Her writing has appeared in various other publications both online and in print, including Salon and True/Slant (now Forbes). A native of the Midwest, Madeline lives, writes, and parents in Southern California, where she's raising two daughters and a son. Read bio and latest posts → Read Madeline's latest posts →

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39 thoughts on “Are Chinese Moms Superior?

  1. Gretchen Powers says:

    “The essay was supposed to leave me, a Western mom, feeling like a hack, a moron and a total pushover who is failing her kids.” Is that what you think the purpose was, really? I think it was to make the crazy lady some money and promote her crazy lady book. It left me feeling cool and not psycho and like I don’t need to worry about my kid shooting me in my sleep someday.

  2. Manjari says:

    It left me feeling like I’m glad I didn’t have a mother like Chua. I probably would have been a runaway. Things like sleepovers and school plays and getting to make choices have their own value. I do think kids need to be pushed to stick with things sometimes, but Chua obviously represents an extreme.

  3. Fuchiafinn says:

    “I think it was to make the crazy lady some money and promote her crazy lady book.”
    *giggle*
    Right on.

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by China Network , sandrabullks and Sierra Black, Sarah Bryden-Brown. Sarah Bryden-Brown said: Love the response on Babble to the claim that Chinese moms are superior. Weigh in! Are Chinese Moms Superior? http://soc.li/ydCFipN [...]

  5. don says:

    stop being so jealous. Obviously you are inferior and feel the need to vent. And Amy isn’t really Chinese, she was born in the US, married a *white* man, and obviously her husband approves. Their family is obviously very successful. Sounds like sour grapes to me.

  6. [...] Read an American mother’s take on the essay. And a moving post by Shanghaiist’s Elaine Chow about her own experiences with [...]

  7. Helena C K says:

    I feel sorry for Chua’s two daughters, who must have learned very little about the joys of life, and whose social-emotional functioning must have been quite poor. I would love to hear their take on their mother’s approach to parenting. But it is quite possible that they do not know how to form their own opinion, or that they would not dare to express it, for the fear of disappoining their mother. Very sad story.

  8. John Cave Osborne says:

    One word. Bravo.

  9. Rufus Griscom says:

    I think this drill sergeant approach to parenting, which was popular in aristocratic Western culture in much of last several hundred years (remember sound of music?), is good at pumping out kids with very specific skill sets, but not so good at igniting a fire in kids to be creative and passionate about their careers. Here’s an interesting fact (from David Shenk’s “genius in all of us”): child prodigy’s are very rarely highly successful. That’s because they develop specific precocious skill sets but never develop the creative ability to take them to a higher level. Success in the modern world increasingly demands creativity. In the age of google, having enclyopedic knowledge is less useful than it once was; social skills and creative skills are in greater demand. So leaving out the inhumanity of the approach Chua endorses, for second, there is also the question of whether it will lead to success for kids 20 years from now. And i don’t think it will.

  10. michelle says:

    She’s extreme and more than a little smug, but I do think there is something to what she’s saying. I don’t mean to suggest we should take *all* of her advice, but let’s face it, American parents *are* too easy on kids, and there is evidence to back this up. It’s not for nothing that US kids’ academic performance is among the most dismal of any advanced nation (even kids from the best US schools do worse on math, history and literature tests than average kids from other industrialized nations), even as they universally assess themselves as above average or excellent. Many American parents *do* allow their kids to spend too much time on sports and video gaming rather than, you know, basic academic skills. There *is* a huge streak of anti-intellectualism in the culture. So what do we do about that? A single-minded focus on certain types of achievement are not good, either — I have personally seen friends of mine, children of Asian immigrants, have nervous breakdowns when they get to college and have to figure things out for themselves, or when they graduate and find that rewards aren’t always based on rational measures like GPA. My immigrant parents had a pretty good model, I think — they supplemented what the public school dished out with plenty of additional drills/lessons, they had extremely high expectations (an A minus or a state school were considered failures), but they also encouraged me to think for myself. I learned to navigate the social world and to take failure in stride, both of which become more important as you hit your 30s and no one cares anymore where you went to college.

  11. Tim Teng says:

    We’re a Chinese-American family; wife and I were immigrants from Taiwan, boys were American born. Following the tradition of Confucianism, we believe the boys should be brought up as 文武雙全 wén wǔ shuāng quán (literally, well versed in both literature and martial art). In modern day’s context: Striving for maximum mental and physically development. In practice: shooting for straight-As’, piano/violin lessons (for perserverance, ambidexterity training or left/right brain development) and basketball, which they love, (for physical toughness, competition and failure endurance.) Our boys always know (w/ plenty of no-holds-bar feedback)- we did this out of love, foresight and experience- and that ultimately it’s good for them; in essence the end will justify the means.

  12. Gretchen Powers says:

    The only “drills” I’m going to give my kid are ones in which she’s learning to build things—with a drill. I think as we approach peak use of resources people are going to wish they and their kids knew how to grow food, repair things around the home, maybe kill and prepare caught animals (hunt) and the mental and emotional strength to have a calm mind in the face of adversity. Playing piano flawlessly is nice, if you get off on that, but it’s not a particularly useful skill. Many of those things Chua forbade her kids to partake in also build community (sleepovers, school plays, team sports)…but I guess that doesn’t matter to her. It will matter when you need to borrow food from your neighbor.

  13. Rufus Griscom says:

    I think Michelle makes a good point — there is a baby in the bathwater of Chua’s sensationalistic rant, and it’s that we may have oversteered in the last generation and become too loosy goosy with our kids, at least in terms of how we approach education. We all want education to be fun and self-motivated, but is there a place for high expectations? A place for discipline and intensity of focus? The best nugget in the Chua piece is that high expectations can be an expression of confidence rather than simply an act of sadism. Seems to me there is some morsel of useful counsel in there.

  14. Gretchen Powers says:

    “expectations can be an expression of confidence”
    OK…I like this alot, and have to admit that I operate from this place…but, that’s not the same as throwing your kids beloved toys out or slapping them around if they don’t play a piano piece correctly

  15. Helen Ma says:

    I am a Chinese mom and i fully understand Amy Chua even though i think she was too hard on her kids.Most Chinese Moms would not allow their daughters ( in high school) sleepover outside,they talk to her kids if they can’t get As seriously.My daughter moved to America when she was 12 years old and she could not speak English then, but she studied hard and she got accepted by one of the best univeristies ( one of top 20s).
    American students are given too much freedom from their parents and the society.In China ,there is no gun shooting in campus, but in here this is like a daily event. The kids need to be led/educated, the parents should get involved more than they do now.

  16. I agree with Rufus: Chua’s definition of success doesn’t aim for longevity, which means all that work/anger/rejection could wind up being summarized by one of the kids as … I played a Carnegie Hall once …
    I also agree with Michelle that there is certainly a parental role in, um, parenting and part of parenting is education. That means negating the culture of anti-intellectualism, which is indeed rampant in parts of the country, and creating a culture of learning. Learning isn’t, though, recitation of facts (though stuff like that makes great parlor tricks) though there’s a definite need of facts to actually learn. Learning is connecting the bits of information and ordering the chaos of the world, which takes creativity, trial and error, down time, thinking, exploration, experiences — all of which Chua wants her daughters to bypass. That’s also what gets bypassed a lot in our education these days, which actually operates a lot like Chua does at home: punishment in the form of bad grades, lack of advancement, boredom, lack of choice, only a limited number of ways to show “success.”

  17. Laure68 says:

    No matter what you think of this style of parenting, it does appear to create more academic and financial success. My parents were probably in between the Chinese style (as described by Chua) and the American style (meaning middle- to upper-middle-class Caucasian), but one thing I can totally relate to is the horror at getting any grade below an A. My parents always expected me to get A’s, and anything below that was viewed as a failure. I was allowed to do fun things like sleepovers, as long as I got straight A’s. As harsh as this may seem to some, it makes me think of a Babble essay from a couple of days ago where the author stated how much she hated math and how she viewed her daughter being required to do somewhat difficult math as a “daily torment”. I would much rather have a parent who started with the expectation that I was smart and able to achieve success than a parent who thought learning was equivalent to torment.

    I actually know quite a few people who were raised in ways similar to what Chua describes, and for the most part they are happy, successful adults. I think some like to imagine that these people are all miserable and unable to deal with life, but I have not seen that to be true. Of course once in a while there will be someone who has some issues, but I know plenty of people who were raised very loosely that have some major issues too.

  18. Minivan Mama says:

    I’m American married to first generation Chinese man. I promise you, talk to an American/Chinese person raised this way and find out how they feel. Academics important, but not everything. Ability to find happiness in your life, now THAT IS everything.

  19. Stat Girl says:

    I think the question is about values and what we view our role as parents to be. Obviously, such a draconian approach is rather distasteful to many “Western” mothers. We need to remember that in many Asian countries, there is so much more competition. China has 1 Billion people! Try landing a spot in their top university with odds like that. Climbing from rural villages to the top of the Chinese business world is arguably much harder than getting into a top university in the US simply because of the number of kids that you’d have to beat out. With odds like that, maybe drilling is a good approach. This could be a big part of the “method.” It seems to me that my job as a mother is to guide my child into a life where she can be a self-sufficient adult who contributes to society in whatever way will be best for her. That includes NOT living in my basement, funding her own spending and holding herself accountable for her choices. Part of that is instilling discipline, what my mother calls “sticktoitiveness” and a sense of responsibility for the world around her (give back). These seem to be the same end goals but Chu’s version of what a self-sufficient adult is is perhaps more defined than mine is. But for me, it is critical that SHE choose, not me. I DO agree that there is a tendency to give out awards for showing up and that diminishes the value of achievement. I remember feeling horrible when people congratulated me for an easy “A”. With anything, I think there is a middle ground. As a nation, we DO need to make sure that while we bring up wonderfully creative and fun-loving children, we also give them the basic tools with which to evaluate the world (math and science are woefully lacking in the US system).

  20. Lisa says:

    For ten years now, I’ve taught in communities with a HIGH percentage of Asian immigrants. My Asian students have performed beautifully in school, are talented musicians, participate in athletics and after school activities, and are very social… on average. There are always exceptions. The same could be said of my white students.

    Of course, the one things that my Asian and White students have in common is that they come from highly educated, intelligent parents.

    Chua was lucky that her daughters’ temperaments did okay with that parenting style. I’m pretty certain my son’s would not and I’ve seen some of my students (Asian and white) crack under that kind of pressure. On the other hand, I’ve seen exceptional work and determination come from children of less demanding, but no less intelligent parents.

    Every kid is different. It doesn’t mean that, as Chua snottily said, that even losers are special. It means that different kids respond to different motivators differently. Knowing what is going to get your child to be successful is vital but more important is knowing what ISN’T going to work for him or her.

  21. mbaker says:

    I find the article disturbing. We swim against the tide and don’t allow a lot of things such as Sponge Bob and Thomas into our house because we feel like they send the wrong messages to our son. We spend a lot of time on educational pursuits but unlike this mother we make learning enjoyable and foster a passion for learning in our son. For example, he’s gotten interested in dinosaurs so we used that as a platform to teach him about the evolutionary time periods, the difference between herbivores, insectivores, carnivores, etc. and plate tectonics. Instead of playing with trucks he plays with dinosaur models and acts out symbiosis for fun. During all of this exploration we’ve learned a lot too and have enjoyed this journey as a family.

    I would stack my son’s knowledge and intelligence against her child’s at his age but unlike her child my son learns all of that information because he enjoys doing it not because we force him to stare at flashcards or berate him when he doesn’t learn something.

  22. JBoogie says:

    I teach at a large suburban high school and in the largest district in my state. We have a low Asian population. However, at the end of the year when the “Wall of Honors” nominees and “Look Whose Going Where!” pieces get published in the paper and sent to all the parents, I can’t remember a year when an Asian student wasn’t valedictorian at the majority of the high schools in the district, including my own. While the majority of students (I’m just gonna say it–the white and black kids) are going to the state schools to join sororities and go to football games, the Asian students write pieces about going to Princeton, Yale, Columbia, NYU, etc. and they are going to study molecular biology, physics, organic chemistry, advanced law, the list goes on and on. They can tell you exactly what they want to do, what they want to research, what they want to study in graduate school, and what they plan to do with it. It’s amazing. And as a parent? I’m not gonna lie and say my goal for my kid is to just go wherever he wants to go and float around changing majors until he finds something that makes him happy until he changes his mind again between big beers at the college town Mexican restaurant. I want my kid to be a champion at more than XBox and beer pong. If I have to be a bitch to do it? Fine.

  23. JenB says:

    While high standards and hard work are wonderful values to instill in children, a fear of failure is not. The other disturbing thing in this article is the idea that only certain activities are worth attaining mastery of, and it doesn’t matter if your kids talents and inclinations don’t fall in that narrow range. Racialicious’s analysis was good, thanks Mistress Scorpio.

  24. Laure68 says:

    JBoogie makes a great point. A disturbing number of Americans think college is for partying, and I have met several people who said they chose a certain major because it was easy and they could have more fun. I find this absolutely ridiculous, and seems to be something exclusive to Americans. And then when these people graduate they act shocked that they cannot find a job. This is one big way I think we fail – we don’t teach our kids that actions and decisions have consequences. If you want to party your way through school, prepare for a difficult time afterward.

  25. Janine de Novais says:

    I think some American, middle and upper class, mostly white but not necessarily so, parents are the kind of “easy” on their kids that Chua’s crazy self denounces, yeah, sure. I think context and culture define a parenting model and sometimes if your context, culturally, allows a certain privilege and leeway, then you can parent that way. I say this to say that I raise an American boy but he is black and I am a single mom and in fact, I was raised in Cape Verde West Africa. I’m like a lot of “American” parents that way–with other resonances and cultural attributes. My son Jalen, as a black boy, is somewhat at risk. He can take risks to learn and fail to learn yeah sure, but he has high stakes. People like him for instance are overwhelmingly diagnosed for special ed. When older, people like him are overwhelmingly targetted for incarceration–you see my point. Some of what I have to drill in him comes from a concern about that. But 99 per cent comes from how I was raised and I was raised to learn to excell. So Jalen gets pushed and told to not quit. And yes, when lazy, he’s told he’s being lazy and that I am disappointed in him. But I say it with love, I relate it to real life (“I don’t like going to work every day but I have to as well” or “When I quit doing good at math I made sure that math would terrorize me for life, you don’t want that”). I tell him real life stories about why perseverance and excellence matter–they matter, because they make you powerful and strong and less vulnerable and free and more in love with yourself and suited for a great life. I talk about freedom to him. And let him do everything else as he pleases because from the day he was conceived, he was a whole separate human being deserving of respect and entitled to personal integrity. Respect is fundamental to parenting and Chua doesn’t respect her kids.

  26. LooLoo'sMommy says:

    I think Chua is over the top and eventually, like shown in her daughters rebellion that is the result you will get with that approach. If you move beyond that rebelling or not is all dependant upon you and the child. However, I have to in a way I reluctantly agree with her. I dont think it is just Chinese moms though, French and Italian moms seem to exceed us western moms too. I was raised by a traditional Italian family excelling in academics, playing classical instruments, and being bilingual wasn’t optional it was required. Most French moms I know raise there children the same way. I know several preschoolers who are not only bilingual but avid readers and great pianists. I have to say when done properly (not over the top with all those silly rules) it works, and it works amazingly. This is how I am raising my daughter, not as crazy as Chua, but all in all with a lot of the same fundamental ideas.

  27. Heather says:

    Chua is a law professor at the best law school in the country. . . . and so is her husband. Hmmmm. Do ya think maybe there’s some genetic component to their duaghters’ extreme achievement? But she can’t really take credit for any of that, which would explain why its not in her essay.

  28. JEssica says:

    I went to school with a significant population of Asians kids and trust me there are stupid asians just like there are stupid white, black and mexican kids. If you look at china there are ton of stupid kids over there too. They all can’t be top of their class. And in my high school all four years I attended it was a white person at the top of the graduating class.

  29. Heather says:

    A wise man once said, “do everything in moderation, even moderation.” I read the article and I found it very interesting. I do agree that the culture of self-esteem is ridiculous and that western parenting is fostering lazyness in everything except sports. I liked her point that kids are naturally lazy and you have to make them otherwise. However, it is very apparent to everyone reading her essay that this lady is over the top and borderline abusive. Children are not robots nor, as this article points out, is “success” really the measure of all things. The older I get the more I am learning to enjoy my children, for who they are, for the pleasure of their company, instead of trying to create some perfect assembly line product. I do also think that Chua must have a determination/arrogance of steel to so proudly proclaim her parenting style to the world. I would never hold myself up as the answer to all things and, neither, quite frankly should anyone else.

  30. Jenna says:

    Reading her article didn’t make me feel guilty at all, it made me feel like a fantastic parent. She has instilled a renewed sense of confidence in my own, drastically different, parenting choices. Thanks Chua.

  31. Ariel says:

    I have a playdate at least once a week with a mom from China (married to an American white man) and I’ve been really impressed with her parenting of her oldest daughter. She makes sure her daughter’s number 1 priority is her schoolwork (she gives her some extra work besides homework to do at home) and it shows as she’s the top in a bunch of her classes. She also has her signed up for 4 extra curricular activities during the week (ice skating, ballet, piano and tennis). However, she also switched her daughter from soccer to tennis because her daughter wasn’t enjoying it and would end any of the activities if her daughter wanted to. She also encourages her friendships and playdates and makes sure they have fun times on weekends to just go to a kid restaurant or see a kid movie or something else that the daughter requests. Her daughter is absolutely a joy to be around whenever I see her (our playdate is for our 2 year-olds) and it’s obvious she’s very well-rounded. Sometimes she can get a bit serious but can also be very silly and has a lot of confidence and pride in herself (without being cocky).

    While I have yet to figure out how I’ll raise my own daughter once she starts elementary school (possible only 2 extra curricular activities and now sure about the work on top of homework), I definitely see my friend as a great mom role model who has given her daughter a manageable balance of school and fun.

  32. Amanda says:

    Ugh. Why do people write things like that? As if we need any more dissension and elitism in the world. I think you are a good parent if you love your child, and make sure they grow up with security, significance, and strength. Who is to say if parent A or parent B does that better? Children are not robots to be molded, they are individuals who are a blessed to be able to raise.

    We need a little less finger pointing at others and a little more focus on “What can *I* do to make a positive difference?” in this world!

  33. joy says:

    I keep thinking, why did this woman have children? Is this the purpose of having children, to override any internal individual notion of their own ideas, desires, thoughts, to crush them so that they can achieve in a way that is considered a success by the mainstream idea of what is successful, would you want your child’s entire life be about making you happy? Also, who invented the google, microsoft, apple, facebook? Americans. It seems that chinese parenting creates successful people judged by other people’s standards, i.e. high grades in highschool, good colleges, good paying jobs but does that create creative thinkers that actually change the way the world works?

  34. Catherine says:

    I am just left wondering if Chinese moms are so superior, how can they ALL be top of the class in schools full of other Chinese? What happens then? I find this whole notion simplistic, narrow minded and beyond ridiculous. Good luck to her (and her poor children).

  35. Amy Tran says:

    I feel lucky because I was born in Asia but was raised here in the U.S. After so many years of topping my class and now having children of my own, I do believe in the combination of both methods would be the best. I expect my kids to do well in school. However, I don’t ever put them down or call them names when they did poorly on their exams. Having said so I spend a lot of time teaching them and guiding them. We also tried out several sports. I then allowed them choose one sport and one instrument that they like best. Once they choose them, we will stick with them and “no quitting” is allowed until they turn 18. My kids know this. There are times when they feel like quitting if swimming or piano get hard. At times like this, I step in and change teacher or get help for them to make them feel better about themselves. I am a strong believer of positive reinforcement like the Westerners. Many Asians are well known for being negative with their kids. Trust me! This is really horrible! My advice is to pick out the best of both Eastern and Western parenting and combine them. It’s a wonderful approach!!!

  36. Nancy B Miller says:

    I think the previous comment (by Amy Tran) makes a lot of sense, for those people disturbed by Chua’s child-rearing method, but looking for something with a little more “spine” to it than the standard method. Maybe Ms. Tran can write her own book!

  37. Kay says:

    Chinese-American child, and I just have to save this: no, the ends don’t justify the means. Ever. The only reason why Asian parents don’t know how bad it is?

    We’re taught to keep our mouths shut.

    My parents were never abusive to me, and they were not as bad as Chua was. That doesn’t make feel better at all though. I can’t wait to leave!

  38. yasminovaeily says:

    my daughter is 3 years old…..being a new mom in nyc brings on a lot of educational questions early. My experience in life, with extremely “pushed” children is that they become irritatingly competitive adults, and friendship with them is often framed with that grinding “I am better than you” attitude. It is cold on top of the mountain, if you do not have companions/friends to put up the tent, start a fire and drink some tea with, while the night falls and it gets dark. I believe in individual achievement and know the excellent feeling of personal success. However, the world is getting smaller, and I think that given all of the disasters, man made and natural, I would like to raise my daughter to be as amazing as she has the ability to be with the goal of using her intelligence and creativity to make the world a better place, and to love her fellow human beings, and respect the planet as our home. that is my goal as a parent, because I believe in her spirit and will always remind her to sing her life.

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