Tiger Mother Invades China

February 3, 2011

Amy Chua, the Chinese-American Tiger Mother has invaded China with her memoir.  Early results look promising in a market of 1.2 billion readers.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the book has been available online since mid-January and ranked No. 80 in sales as of Thursday on Joyo.com, a Chinese version of Amazon (its rank was 43 as I wrote this post).

The paper version of the book will be out after the Chinese New Year holiday.

However, keeping track of sales of the paper version may be difficult since the Chinese have a tradition of borrowing what someone else wrote, printing it without a contract and not paying the author for it while charging a more competitive price than the contracted publisher charges.

To many in the Middle Kingdom, printing a book you don’t have the rights to is not theft.

After all, Confucius considered all information and entertainment in the public domain even if it is against today’s Chinese law.

The Huffington Post was correct when it said the Chinese edition has a new title and a new cover, which I find more colorful than the drab US version.

The China Daily, which is China’s state owned English language newspaper/Website, quoted a Middle Kingdom mother saying, “I can’t imagine a mother in China so frankly revealing the embarrassment and brutal confrontation she went through while trying to tap her kids’ potential to succeed.”

This matches what my wife said about Chua’s memoir being very non-Chinese. It isn’t acceptable in China to talk publicly about White Elephants in the family and this story, to most mainland Chinese, is a White Elephant better kept as a family secret.

China Daily said, “Many Chinese parents see themselves in Chua, not only in terms of the strict parenting, but the desire to help their children excel. But few hope to be the next Tiger Mother.”

The best quote of the China Daily piece was from Zhang Yiwu, A Chinese literature professor and deputy director of the Cultural Research Center of Peking University: “If anything is worth introspection, I think the Tiger Mother has reminded both Chinese and American parents of the necessity to ditch stereotypical thinking and unrealistic fantasies about ideal parenting models.”

I wonder how many SAP parents (Self-esteem arm of Political Correctness in the US) will read those words and take them seriously–to question fantasy parenting models.

Discover Amy Chua Debates Former White House “Court Jester” Larry Summers

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Amy Chua Debates Former White House “Court Jester” Larry Summers

January 31, 2011

A friend of mine forwarded a link to Larry Summers vs. Tiger Mom, which was published in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on January 27, 2011.

Larry Summers, who has billed himself as a “hard ass”, was President Barack Obama’s top economic advisor for the last few years. Summers recently left the White House to return to Harvard as a professor then had a debate with Chinese-American “Tiger Mom,” Amy Chua, who wrote an essay that appeared in the WSJ with a headline (she didn’t write), which said, Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.

Summers said why go through all the trouble to earn a university education when computers are eventually going to do the work that requires discipline.

He also said, “People on average live a quarter of their lives as children. That’s a lot. It’s important that they be as happy as possible during those 18 years. That counts too.”

Summers isn’t alone in his belief that children should focus on being happy instead of academic excellence.

The average American parent belonging to the Self-esteem arm of Political Correctness (SAPs) spends less than five minutes a day encouraging  his or her child to be happy which explains why the average American child enjoys ten hours a day watching TV, socializing on Facebook, playing video games, and/or sending hundreds of text messages.

Summers cites in his debate with Chua that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard. Look at what those “two” achieved without a university education.


“Asian countries value education more than other countries.”

While Gates was building Microsoft and Zuckerberg Facebook, do you believe these two billionaires spent ten hours a day doing what the average American child raised by SAPs such as Summers does to enjoy the first quarter of his or her life?

Summers doesn’t mention that Warren Buffet, one of the richest men on the planet, attended the Wharton Business school at the University of Pennsylvania for two years then transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Working part time, he managed to graduate in only three years.

Summers doesn’t mention that it is common that the top one percent of executives with annual incomes of $500,000 or more often have Ivy league educations from universities such as Stanford, Harvard, Yale or Princeton.

Summers doesn’t mention that the top 15% of the upper middle class are highly educated and often have graduate degrees while earning a high 5-figure annual income commonly above $100,000.

To be specific, the median personal income for a high school drop out in the US with less than a 9th grade education is $17,422, and with some college that medium income jumps to $31,054, while a person with a professional university degree earns an annual medium income of $82,473.  Source: Wiki Academic Models (this source was citing US Census data).

It’s okay if Summers and his fellow SAPs let their children and teens have fun the first eighteen years of life, but don’t forget, the average life span in the US is 78.3 years. 

What are those children going to do for enjoyment while working to earn a living the next 60.3 years as an adult?

Most children raised by Tiger Moms such as Amy Chua shouldn’t have to worry. Those children as adults will probably be in the top 15% of income earners and enjoy life much more than those earning less than $18 thousand annually.

Discover In Defense of Tiger Mothers Everywhere

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Trouble from China — Is Amy Chua Chinese or Chinese-America?

January 27, 2011

In China, Amy Chua is being criticized for writing that Chinese parenting is superior to soft Western methods.

The criticism from China comes from the deep cultural roots of Confucianism and Taoism that one does not force his or her beliefs, opinions and lifestyle on someone else as being better. It is considered improper to preach. It doesn’t mean most Chinese disagree with her.

However, Chinese parents may preach to their children.

Have you ever met a Confucian or a Taoist going door to door touting his philosophy and warning you are doomed if you do not convert?

In her memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Chua proudly says, “My family comes from southern China’s Fujian Province, which is famous for producing scholars and scientists.”

Then sometime around 1925 as China descended into Civil War, World War II, chaos and anarchy for the next fifty years, her grandparents moved to the Philippines where her father was born. Chua’s mother was born in China in 1936.

In 1960, her parents met in Boston, which means Amy Chua’s mother was really Chinese.

Amy Chua learned from her parents how to be strict and demanding, which explains why she wrote, “Chinese parenting is better at raising kids than Western ones.”

Parents I call SAPs (the Self-esteem arm of Political Correctness) believe that any effort to control a child, burden her with rules and guide him toward a goal is child abuse. The SAP method is to encourage children to follow his or her dreams and be happy all the time.

This is how the “average” American parent has been raising children in the US for decades.

Since I was criticized for writing the average American parent is a SAP as if I meant, “all” Americans, Princeton.edu clearly says, “average people”; “the ordinary (or common) man in the street”. Another site says, “around the middle of a scale of evaluation“.

The word “average” doesn’t mean “all”. Unexceptional and exceptional people don’t count in the average, but studies say SAP parenting is average (common) in America.

The SAPs of America have evangelized this soft parenting method for the last fifty years converting many to this religion.

If Chua had written, “Chinese-American parents are better at raising children,” she wouldn’t have been criticized in China — just in America from the common SAP.

After all, Amy Chua is Chinese-American and has been influenced by America’s evangelical atmosphere of preaching and converting others. The competition is fierce since there are thousands of Christian sects, Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, neoconservatives, Republicans, Democrats, SAPs and now Tough Love parents — unless the SAP mob forms an alliance with one of the other religions and lobbies for a law to make Tough Love illegal.

SAPs have already been very successful in the SAP war against spanking children as a last effort to correct an unacceptable behavior. Instead, parents are required to bribe kids the SAP way with a TV, video games, a Facebook page, sugary foods, toys and trips to Disneyland.

Discover my Review for Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother where I got in trouble for writing “average”.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Explaining China and Defining the Value of Tough Love

January 26, 2011

China is the polar opposite of America in many ways.  In China, as a collective culture, the child is an extension of the parent and is not seen as an individual.

China has been this way for thousands of years where the family is more important than the individual is and the country is more important than the family and the individual.

The rules of Confucianism emphasized this cultural structure and these behaviors were practiced, endorsed and enforced by the Han Dynasty centuries before the birth of Christ.

In contrast, the American brand of individualism, which is represented by the rudeness and rebellion we see in America today has only been in practice for about fifty years.

Contrary to popular opinion, Americans have not always been rebels. That image was born and reinforced by 20th century Hollywood films that often depict rebellious children and criminals as clever, popular heroes while turning hard working authority figures such as the police, teachers and parents into idiots and oppressors.

In fact, if you read the history of child labor in the United States, you would discover that forms of child labor, including indentured servitude and child slavery, have existed throughout American history.

It wasn’t until the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, which set federal standards for child labor that the US moved toward providing a free, compulsory education for all children instead of children working in factories or coalmines or on farms as young as five.

Before 1938, instead of going to school, most American children went to work at a very early age and often labored twelve or more hours a day six days a week with only the Sabbath off.

The cultural concept that earning an education is worth the sacrifice of hard work that it demands has never existed in America.

However, China has a long history of providing an education to children of all classes as far back as the Han Dynasty since that is what Confucius taught.

In China for more than two thousand years, teachers and parents have been the heroes and are respected for the sacrifices they make to better a child’s future, which does not translate into encouraging a child to chase his or her dreams since, in reality, fantasies seldom come true and only a “few” achieve such dreams

After all, not “everyone” can become the next Bill Gates, Oprah or Selene Dion.

The collective concept of Confucianism has no room for an individual’s rights or dreams. What an American sees in China as oppression, most Chinese don’t even think about because that way of thought doesn’t exist in China’s Confucian dominated collective culture.

Hence, a Tiger Mother, such as Amy Chua, is respected for doing her duty as a Chinese parent. Being a SAP (the Self-esteem arm of Political Correctness) parent would be unthinkable.

I suspect that even if Amy Chua doesn’t sell the Chinese rights to her book, a publisher in China will steal the book, translate it and it will be a massive bestseller as Chinese parents buy and read her book to discover tougher methods of parenting.

That means Chinese mothers will be reading Chua’s book to learn what it takes to raise a child that performs in Carnegie Hall, while those mothers criticize Chua in public instead of praising her while secretly trying out what she learned from Chua.

That sort of behavior to say one thing while doing another is also common in China since Taoism is the other side of the Chinese character.

Bragging is also not acceptable until you have earned the right to brag by achieving the goals you set for yourself that no one else has ever heard of since bragging that you will be the next Bill Gates when you are a child is considered stupid and maybe a sign of a mental illness.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Review for “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”

January 25, 2011

Any fool can be a parent, and the average American parent is a fool.

Amy Chua is not a fool.

I taught English, journalism and reading in the American public schools from 1975 to 2005. I experienced the decline of the American family while working 60 to 100 hours a week teaching, writing lesson plans and correcting the work my students turned in.

When I was born, children were still taught to be seen and not heard. Most of my generation was polite and respectful of our elders — not so today.

My mother taught me how to read and I was required to learn and play a musical instrument. For me that was the accordion. However, my parents weren’t as tough as Chua was, and I don’t remember how to play the accordion, which is something I regret.

In America, any semblance of a parent’s freedom of choice of how to raise a child all but vanished starting in the 1960s when the Self-esteem Arm of Political Correctness (SAP) became the only acceptable way to act, think, and speak as a parent.

Parents that deviated from the self-esteem model were driven underground and Chua was perceptive enough to see that.

Sophia, Amy Chua’s oldest daughter, shows what SAP has done to America’s children on page 191 (hardcover).  Sophia says, “Do you know what a good daughter I am? Everyone else I know parties all the time, and they drink and do drugs. And do you know what I do? Every day I run straight home from school.  I run.…”

What Sophia said is true. My wife and I heard much the same story from our daughter, and I saw this self-destructive behavior become the norm during the thirty years I was a teacher in the US public schools.

I suggest strongly that if you plan to be a parent soon or in the future, read Amy Chua’s memoir so you know what your parenting choices are.

For anyone who has a child already in school, it may be too late to reverse the damage that has been done by being a SAP

Changing a child’s unacceptable behavior can happen but the longer a child goes without being corrected, the more of a challenge it becomes.

In her memoir, Chua mentions that her husband and most Westerners believe we owe children since they did not ask to be born.

Where did this ridiculous concept come from?

The answer is SAP!

In fact, no one alive today or at any time in history asked to be born.  Adam in the Garden of Eden did not ask God to create him, and God used the “carrot and stick” method to control Adam’s behavior. When Adam broke God’s one rule, He threw Adam out of the Garden and took away his immortality.

If you decide to read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, pay close attention and you will discover that Chua’s daughters did not suffer as much as some critics claim. When a Time magazine reporter recently interviewed Chua in her home, her oldest daughter was upstairs with her boyfriend and could be heard laughing.

Children don’t have to go shopping for the latest fashions or spend a day at Disneyland to have fun. If a child is raised properly, he or she will find enjoyment in things such as reading or learning how to play the violin or piano.

Sarah and Lulu, Amy Chua’s daughters, have lived an incredible life that most children never imagine and their mother gave them the best gift of all — values and discipline.

A real parent, like God with Adam, sets rules, goals and expectations for his or her children. This is what Amy Chua writes about throughout her memoir as she explores the difference between two methods of raising children.

Life cannot be all carrots and fun as the average American SAP parent believes.

In this brutally honest memoir, Amy Chua shows us the extremes of Tough Love.

Love, by definition is not abuse and Chua does not abuse her children when she set high goals/standards for them and demanded that her daughters achieve these goals. After reading the essay, Chinese Mothers are Superior, in the Wall Street Journal or reading her memoir, if you feel she abused her children, you are wrong and have no idea what abuse is.

By expecting excellence from her daughters, Chua demands more of herself and sacrifices much to see that her children achieve the goals that are the parent’s right to decide — at last until that child is a teenager.

The Tiger Mother Tough Love approach to raising a child that Chua writes of in her memoir is not the only Tough Love parenting model.

A Tough Love parent may also set the bar as low as earning D’s or better while only praising the best the child does such as earning an A on a major assignment or test or winning a gold or silver medal in a challenging competition where few win among many who compete.

In the Tough Love approach to parenting there must be a stick and a carrot (punishments and rewards) and there must be criticism and praise. How much of a choice a child has, at least until they are a teen, is decided by the parents — not the child.

The American SAP method of raising children is not parenting — it’s child abuse.

Studies show the average American child spends about 10 hours a day in one or more of these empty activities — watching TV, playing video games, socializing on Internet sites such as Facebook or sending hundreds of text messages on a mobile phone.

Studies also show that watching TV stunts the growth of a child’s imagination.

SAP parents seldom if ever use a stick just as the word “NO” is seldom heard or enforced if used.

Amy Chua started out tough and mean and that was the right decision. She was also right when she said, “All those Western parents with the same party line about what’s good for children and what’s not — I’m not sure they’re making choices at all. They just do what everyone else does.…”

She was right.

In thirty years of teaching, I worked with more than 6,000 children and teens and met with and talked to hundreds of parents. It is sad how the SAP parents all sounded and acted the same. They were broken records.

It is easier for a tough parent to go soft than a soft parent to become tough. I learned that from my master teacher the year I was earning my teaching credential.

Children are born wild and it is up to parents and teachers to tame them and show them the proper way to behave and live his or her life. SAP parents often fail at this job.

A parent or child in a SAP family never takes the blame when the child fails a test or a class or behaves unacceptable in public. Instead, the blame goes to the schools and teachers even if the child or teen never reads, doesn’t do homework or never studies for tests.

To a SAP parent, it is always the teacher’s fault.

To a SAP parent, depriving a child of his daily dose of fun is evil.

As a teacher, I was often the victim of SAP parents and children.

When my son was born, I practiced Tough Love and his mother was a SAP.  When I punished him for not following the rules, his mother accused me of child abuse.

We divorced when he was three.

After that, his mother raised him as a SAP 90% of the time. He spent the other 10% with me. When he was with me, I made him do yard work and other weekend chores while I was also doing them. I also made him read and do his homework.

During the week when my son was with his SAP mother, she called and asked me to tell him to do his homework.

My son’s SAP mother helped him become the successful waiter and bartender he is today at thirty-four. His dream, which his SAP mother encouraged, was to become a famous actor but that did not happen.

After my son’s first year out of high school, he told me he went to Disneyland thirty times. He did not earn a college education or degree. His SAP mother must be very proud of him.

I remarried and my wife is a Tough Love parent. She is also Chinese but not as tough as Amy Chua is.

In fact, every Asian and Chinese mother I’ve met was a Tough Love parent as Amy Chua points out in her memoir. I’ve read some of Chua’s critics accusing her of stereotyping Chinese mothers.

Those critics were wrong.

Most Chinese mothers practice a form of Tough Love and I often laughed while reading Chua’s book since the images were so vivid and real. Since most of my wife’s friends are Chinese mothers, I’ve seen how they are similar to Chua as parents. The mother depicted in Amy Tan’s book, The Joy Luck Club, was modeled after Tan’s Chinese mother.

When my wife and I raised our daughter, who is 19 now, we were always on the same page as far as discipline.  Unlike Chua’s husband, I never disagreed with my wife’s Tiger Mother methods.

There was no problem restricting TV to a few hours on the weekend with content controlled by us.

Our daughter grew up reading books and there were no video games in our house. When I bought our daughter a mobile phone after she was in high school, I told her she would lose the phone if she used it for texting or used all the minutes that came with the plan I paid for. In four years, there was one 25-cent text message on the phone bill for her phone.

It wasn’t our daughter who used up the minutes talking on the phone. It was my wife.

I convinced my Chinese Tiger Mother wife that our daughter should be a scholar athlete, as it would help her get into a top US college.  Our daughter was urged to select a sport, and she excelled in Pole Vault where she was listed as one of the top five girl pole-vaulters for her age in California.  She seldom missed a practice and continued to earn A’s in her academic classes.

Both her mother and I tried to get her to go easier on herself, but she refused.

We allowed our daughter to attend a few school dances with a strict curfew. The one time she tried to get me to let her stay out later, I said no and did not back down.

She also was allowed a few sleepovers. However, at home bedtime was 9:30 with a stern rebuke by her mother if she wasn’t in bed on time.

Research shows that during the growing years, the brain does all of its development while sleeping, which required at least nine or more hours a night, and if sleep is missed, brain growth suffers.

Our daughter always had a nutritious breakfast before going to school. Each year, I asked my SAP students if they ate breakfast. Few did.

In addition, her mother and I used standardized test results to discover our daughter’s weak academic areas and strengthen them. She told her friends she had more fun at school than at home where the work her mother and I provided was often more challenging.

Of course, our daughter’s SAP raised friends felt sorry for her and this led to the same sort of rebellious behavior that Amy Chua’s youngest daughter Lulu demonstrates throughout most of the memoir.

Since our daughter had free time on her hands without video games and TV to soak it up, she taught herself how to play the piano without pressure. However, she will never play with the skill that Sophia and Lulu have for the piano and violin.

Graduating with a 4.65 GPA, our daughter was accepted to Stanford. I don’t think she will end up as a waiter or bartender as a lifelong career.

I wonder if my SAP raised son is happy knowing he may spend most of his life waiting on tables or mixing drinks for the low pay that comes with a job such as that. Then again, maybe he will win the lottery and have more time to visit Disneyland and have fun partying.

I urge everyone that reads this review to buy and read Amy Chua’s memoir. That doesn’t mean you have to be the parent she is but hopefully it will help you avoid being a SAP.

Learn more from In Defense of Tiger Mothers

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Amy Chua’s Suicide Critics

January 23, 2011

Some critics of Amy Chua blame the so-called high rate of suicides in China as an argument that Chinese/Asian Tough Love is wrong.

I suspect these ignorant critics don’t know much about Chinese culture or the most common reasons for suicides in China or countries such as Japan.

Most of the suicides in China are not caused by loving Tiger Mothers that spend hours a day emphasizing education above all else instead of allowing children to watch hours of TV and/or playing video games while ignoring books and homework as in the US. 

Those suicides are results of cultural pressures that go far beyond Tough Love. Loss of face and/or becoming a failure is often the reason one commits suicide.

The World Health Organization (WHO) shows that the suicide rate in China in 1999 was 28 of every 100,000 people.

In the US, that number was 21.7 per 100,000.  The WHO shows that the Ukraine has a much higher rate than either China or the US at 62.1 per 100,000 with the Russian Federation reporting more than 80 per 100,000.

I suspect poverty and oppression are a stronger reason than loving but strict Tiger Mothers.

Thailand, with its share of Asian Tiger Mothers, was eight per 100,000. Singapore was 18.9 while Japan was 50.6

China was almost tied with Sweden’s suicide rate, which was 27.7 per 100,000.

However, China and Japan almost tied for female suicides at 14.8 for China and 14.1 for Japan.

What could be the cause?  Possibly children like Amy Chua’s youngest daughter Lulu rebelling until the mother is so depressed she takes her life because she considers herself a failure.

Maybe writing Battle Cry of the Tiger Mother was Chua’s way to deal with the sense of failure she must have felt when Lulu broke that drinking glass in Moscow and shouted at her mother she hated her for being so strict. If so, writing a memoir is better than suicide and writing is a great way to deal with depression.

The WHO shows Australia has a higher suicide rate than China at 37.1 per 100,000. Why didn’t Amy Chua’s critics point this out? I suspect the reason is that they are too lazy to do the research. After all, learning something new might take time away from watching TV or social networking on Facebook.

 

Moreover, the number of women committing suicide in Lithuania in 2000 was 16.1 per 100,000. Sri Lanka suicide rate was 16.8 women and 44.6 for men.

I know of one Chinese suicide first hand and an attempted suicide by a Japanese woman. Both took place in California, and the reasons had nothing to do with Tiger Mothers.

The high school where I taught had a high percentage of Philippine students. I taught many and Philippine mothers often practice Tough Love as Amy Chua does.  I had one Philippine girl break into tears when she earned an A- on a test. She made it up by doing all the extra credit, which Amy Chua says isn’t an option in China.

The WHO says the suicide rate in the Philippines in 1993 was 4.2 per 100,000 people. Do you see the decimal between the four and the two?  That number is more than five times lower than the suicide rate in the US.

I’m shocked!

What could America’s Politically Correct Self-esteem driven mothers be doing wrong? After all, who else could we blame for the gap between US suicides and those in the Philippines except America’s mushy soft-love mothers.

When our straight “A” student, Chinese-American daughter was nine, we were hiking along trails in the hills near our Southern California home. She rushed ahead of us on the winding path until we lost sight of her.

Then she came running back saying there was a man hanging from a tree and he looked dead. 

My friend Neil and I hurried to the hanging tree. While Neil climbed into the tree to see if the man was alive, I called 911.

When the police arrived, they searched the dead man’s wallet and called his mother’s house. It turns out that he was an architect from Taiwan. My wife speaks Mandarin and the police asked her to talk to the wife and the mother, who spoke no English. We discovered that his Taiwanese company had gone bankrupt and he had taken his life due to loss of face because he saw himself as a failure. He was at least 40 if not older.

The second incident I read of was mentioned in the media a few years back.

A Japanese woman had taken her young children to the end of Santa Monica pier and leaped into the ocean taking her children with her. Surfers managed to save her but her young children died.

The reason for attempting suicide was that her husband, a Japanese executive working in the US, had an affair. When the Japanese wife discovered her husband was cheating, she saw herself as a failure, and the only way to erase the shame was to kill herself and her children. 

Since she was a Japanese citizen, Japan requested that she be returned to Japan. The reason given was due to cultural differences.

Learn from In Defense of Tiger Mothers Everywhere

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.