Are Chinese/Asian mothers superior?

I read this deliciously controversial article in the WSJ by Yale law Professor Amy Chua called Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.  

Chua begins by stating some of the things her kids weren’t ever allowed to do – have playdates, watch TV, or be in a school play. She then advocates her style of coercive, military parenting with anecdotal (and often funny) personal examples. She wraps up by conceding that while there are different ways to raise your progeny, the Chinese way is clearly superior.

Predictably, her article has roused very strong feelings – some commentors are deeply disturbed by her parenting approach while others are awed by it. However, most readers seem to have missed the tongue-in-cheek apsect of her writing. Sure, she believes in tough love but Chua appears to be laughing at herself even as she shocks us with her opinions. It makes me wonder if she really is all that harsh or just exaggerating to make a point.

Personally, I wouldn’t go to the extremes Chua says she does, but I do believe a child’s primary goal is to learn. If teachers or parents can device ways to make learning fun, more power to them. If not, tough. The kid still has to learn, practice and compete in order to succeed.

What do you think? Chinese parenting or the Try-your-best-honey approach? Please vote.

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4 Responses to “Are Chinese/Asian mothers superior?”

  • Vishal:

    Your link’s not working but nice post!

  • Rads:

    Ahhh- an interesting topic indeed- as a friend and I were discussing that in this day and time “entitlement” is indeed the biggest problem we face with our kids, and showing tough love is not just an option but a necessity at times.
    Having said that- here’s a personal anecdote- we were at a chess tournament a few weeks ago, where an Asian girl lost a game to Ahaan. She was older and rated much higher than Ahaan- so he was obviously elated. However, as the girl came out of the tournament room, her Dad asked her the result- she looked petrified as she told him that she had lost. Well, she obviously knew what was coming, for she got a smack from the dad right there and then. That was enough to let the wind out of Ahaan’s sail. He was sad that he had won. Damage done on both ends!!
    My interpretation of this article is that the writer is riding in the same boat as the dad in the anecdote above. I know for sure that I do NOT want to be that boat!
    I do want my boys to excel in thier pursuits- and Ahaan does think that at time I am the “meanest Mom” in the world. However I do know when to back off- at least I believe I do.
    Stephen Gladwell mentions in his book “Outliers” that it takes 10000 hours to master a skill. So yes that practice is important, and not letting kids “give up” is the job of a parent- but how you do it is equally important.

  • Sonali:

    Hmmmm……well based on my experiences,I have come to an independent conclusion….being too much of a parent is bad being too much of a friend is worse,moderation is the key,but at the end of the day you need to be a parent who’s friendly but sets boundaries that can be explained.

  • Nags:

    I respectfully disagree with Ms Chua. It depends on what is your definition of successful parenthood. For me it is teaching the kids to differentiate good from bad. In my opinion Values come before skills, all we need to do is instill right values, skills will follow.

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