The question was, “So what is Chinese mothering and is it superior to Western parenting? Should all moms ascribe to be Amy Chua?”
What follows are a few excerpts from the China Daily opinion piece.
“First, Chua is using the terms ‘Chinese mothers’ and ‘Western parents’ loosely. The Tiger Mother/Chinese Mother can be found in many cultures and is not exclusive within any culture….”
“Unlike in the West where children are encouraged to experiment and develop their own individual talents, Chinese parents believe the child is an extension of oneself. Chinese parents believe they know what is best for their children and therefore override the child’s preferences. Chua concludes that it may come down to a matter of choice. Westerners believe in allowing children a large measure of freedom to choose their own paths while the Chinese parent makes choices for her children.…”
Amy Chua’s daughter Sophia as seen on her Blog
”Trying to untangle Chinese mothering and Western parenting and pick one style of raising a child or the other as the exclusively right way is ultimately a fool’s errand. Certainly, there are elements from both that are worth adopting. Parents can be consistent without being inflexible. They can have high expectations and demand that children work hard without setting up gulag conditions. They can listen and adapt to their children without giving up control or responsibility for raising them.…”
“In the final analysis, Amy Chua has provided readers with a provocative memoir about how she raised her daughters. Certainly, her ideas are worth considering and many are worth adopting. However, no parent should believe that Tiger Mothers have infallible blueprints for raising successful children. Parents still need to chart their own course and be prepared to vary the course according to the needs of each child.”
Instead of listening to the intolerant opinions of inflexible fools from America, why not read what Sophia, Amy Chua’s oldest daughter, has to say in her letter to the New York Post or go to her Blog and discover for yourself that her tiger mother has not damaged her.
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 Timemagazine 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.
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.
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.
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.
Amy Chua claims Chinese mothers are superior, and any way you cut it, she is right.
The Chinese mother does make the difference in her child’s education and lifestyle choices, because she is willing to say “NO” and stick to that hated word.
I left a comment at Avitable.com and a few other Blogs and cited statistics in support of Tiger Mothers. The host said, “Did you know that 90% of people can make up statistics on the spot?”
Then Adam Health Avitable says, “I have a BA in East Asian Studies and a doctorate, so I’m not ignorant in any fashion.”
If you visit Adam’s Blog, you will soon discover that he also says he is a lawyer, a nude model, a humorist, a geek and is single.
US Book Cover
Hey Adam Avitable, about a year ago, Business Insider.com published, “It’s Official, Asian-American Students Work Way Harder to Become More Educated Than Everyone Else” then went on to say Asian-American students take far more Advanced Placement (AP) classes during high school than most other Americans.
In fact, information gathered at City Data.com supports Amy Chua and Tiger Mothers.
I used the Academic Performance Index (API) in California to rank and compare four high schools. Although Chinese are the largest Asian minority in the US, they are not listed separately but are included with five other Asian groups, which are Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Vietnamese and Koreans.
Today there are about 12 million Asians in the US. As a group, Asian-Americans outperform all other racial groups.
At Rowland Unified School District’s Nogales High School, 76% of the student population is listed as Hispanic and 11% as Filipino. The Filipino/Asian students averaged 790 on the API while the Hispanic students averaged 627.
Who is Adam Avitable?
At Oakland High School, three ethnic groups are listed. African Americans make up 26% of the student population with an API average of 517; Asians are 53% of students with an API of 667 and Hispanics are 16% of the student population with an API of 519.
At Los Lomas High School, 74% of the student population is white with an API average of 851 while the 11% Asian population averages 861.
At Gunn High School in Palo Alto, California, 53% of the students are white with an API average of 895. Asians make up 32% of students and average 921 on the API.
From the Asian American Alliance, I learned that the Asian population in the US has the highest marriage rate among all other ethnic groups at 60.2% compared to the national average of 54.4%.
Education.com says that Asian American students generally fare better than other racial minority groups in respect to grade point averages, standardized test scores, or even numbers of high school, bachelor, and advanced degrees obtained compared to other racial minorities (NationalCenter for Education Statistics, 2003; U.S. Census Bureau, 2003).
Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) says, “Contrary to popular belief, Asian-Americans very much experience racism in America, and are often lost in the “black and white” dichotomy that dominates racial issues in the U.S. There is often resentment by both Caucasians and minority groups towards Asian-Americans because of their perceived “success” as minorities.”
UK Book Cover
Could the virtual outcry against Amy Chua as a Tiger Mother be part of this resentment?
In addition, NEIU reports that statistics for Asian-American with HIV/AIDS shows that Asians have the lowest case rate in America with 4 per 100,000 compared to 58.2 per 100,000 for African-Americans, 10 per 100,000 for Hispanics and 6.2 per 100,000 for whites.
That essay activated the dendrites in my dyslexic, PTSD challenged brain, which started to buzz with ideas for this post.
Then I thought of my mother, who defied the early tide of Positive Self-Esteemism that started to wash America clean of common sense as early as the 1950s. I shudder to think of what might have happened to me if she hadn’t done that.
Most “isms” have something to offer. Capitalism offers that a few get filthy rich. Socialism offers protection for the working class from greedy capitalists so the workers at least have food and shelter.
However, Positive Self-Esteemism has nothing to offer. It is a cancer eating the young minds of the most powerful nation on the planet.
Amy Chua, a professor at the Yale Law School and author of the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, may be on a crusade to save American education by pointing out why Chinese mothers do a better job raising children that go on to do better in school.
Don’t you find it interesting that bad American teachers are blamed for the academic failure of many American students, while most Chinese-American students learned from those same teachers and go on to academic success anyway? Our daughter, who is Chinese-American, had bad teachers too but she also had mean parents, and she was accepted to Stanford University after graduating from high school with a 4.65 GPA.
Horror of horrors, as a child, our daughter had no telephone or TV in her room and no video games. Instead of watching TV nightly as most American kids do, she had to read. The TV was on only two hours a week to watch 20/20 and 60 Minutes.
In her Wall Street Journal essay, Chua says, “What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences. This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up.”
Amy Chu talks of her book, Day of Empire.
I despise Positive Self-Esteemism as much as or more than America’s Founding Fathers despised democracy.
I learned the hard way years ago how wrong Positive Self-Esteemism was. I taught for thirty years as a classroom teacher in the public schools and was in the trenches being shot at on an annual basis by the politically correct troops spreading this cancer.
In fact, we teachers were told to stop using the word “work” to describe the assignments we had our students doing because studies pointed out that American kids don’t like work. It was also suggested that we correct student work with green ink instead of red because red makes kids feel bad.
However, back in 1952, I was fortunate. For a brief time my mother defied Positive Self-Esteemism and taught me to read when educational experts decided I would never learn to read or write. A decade earlier, the same verdict had been made of my brother and he died illiterate at 64.
At 17, my brother Richard had already been in jail and was drinking booze and doing drugs. He was cutting school too. Why go when you cannot read?
Without knowing it, due to my older brother’s behavior, our mother learned the hard way that Positive Self-Esteemism was wrong. She didn’t blame bad teachers or the schools as many American parents are doing today.
After mother heard the verdict that her youngest son would also be illiterate, she drove home in tears. Both my mother and dad [due to the Great Depression they both dropped out of school at fourteen to work and never graduated from high school] loved to read. The thought of me not sharing a passion for the written word was too much to bear.
By the time we reached home, mother decided to teach me behind closed doors where none of the early shock troops of Positive Self-Esteemism could accuse her of being an abusive parent.
To motivate me, mother used a wire coat hanger and mean language. If I complained, mother hit me with the coat hanger and accused me of being stupid.
I learned to read and write.
When mother was 89 and near death, she asked my forgiveness for being mean to motivate me to read. Mother said she had lived with guilt for what she had done for more than five decades.
I replied, “Mom, I wished you had told me this before. There is no reason to feel guilty or ask me for forgiveness for teaching me to read by being mean. If you hadn’t done that, I would have followed in Richard’s footsteps. Without being able to read, I may have gone to jail as he did. Thank you for using that coat hanger. Thank you for being mean and forcing me to learn.”
A few weeks later my mother died.
My brother spent fifteen years in jail, was an alcoholic and dabbled seriously in drugs. All those flaws didn’t matter to me. I still loved my brother.
He died having never read a book. In fact, if he were alive today, he wouldn’t be able to read Amy Chua’s work.