Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior

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Can a regimen of no playdates, no TV, no computer games and hours of music practice create happy kids? And what happens when they fight back?

By AMY CHUA

A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

• 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.

I’m using the term “Chinese mother” loosely. I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers, by choice or otherwise. I’m also using the term “Western parents” loosely. Western parents come in all varieties.

All the same, even when Western parents think they’re being strict, they usually don’t come close to being Chinese mothers. For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments 30 minutes every day. An hour at most. For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part. It’s hours two and three that get tough.

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.

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. But if done properly, the Chinese strategy produces a virtuous circle. Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America. Once a child starts to excel at something—whether it’s math, piano, pitching or ballet—he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun. This in turn makes it easier for the parent to get the child to work even more.

Chinese parents can get away with things that Western parents can’t. Once when I was young—maybe more than once—when I was extremely disrespectful to my mother, my father angrily called me “garbage” in our native Hokkien dialect. It worked really well. I felt terrible and deeply ashamed of what I had done. But it didn’t damage my self-esteem or anything like that. I knew exactly how highly he thought of me. I didn’t actually think I was worthless or feel like a piece of garbage.

As an adult, I once did the same thing to Sophia, calling her garbage in English when she acted extremely disrespectfully toward me. When I mentioned that I had done this at a dinner party, I was immediately ostracized. One guest named Marcy got so upset she broke down in tears and had to leave early. My friend Susan, the host, tried to rehabilitate me with the remaining guests.

The fact is that Chinese parents can do things that would seem unimaginable—even legally actionable—to Westerners. Chinese mothers can say to their daughters, “Hey fatty—lose some weight.” By contrast, Western parents have to tiptoe around the issue, talking in terms of “health” and never ever mentioning the f-word, and their kids still end up in therapy for eating disorders and negative self-image. (I also once heard a Western father toast his adult daughter by calling her “beautiful and incredibly competent.” She later told me that made her feel like garbage.)

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.

First, I’ve noticed that Western parents are extremely anxious about their children’s self-esteem. They worry about how their children will feel if they fail at something, and they constantly try to reassure their children about how good they are notwithstanding a mediocre performance on a test or at a recital. In other words, Western parents are concerned about their children’s psyches. Chinese parents aren’t. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.

For example, if a child comes home with an A-minus on a test, a Western parent will most likely praise the child. The Chinese mother will gasp in horror and ask what went wrong. If the child comes home with a B on the test, some Western parents will still praise the child. Other Western parents will sit their child down and express disapproval, but they will be careful not to make their child feel inadequate or insecure, and they will not call their child “stupid,” “worthless” or “a disgrace.” Privately, the Western parents may worry that their child does not test well or have aptitude in the subject or that there is something wrong with the curriculum and possibly the whole school. If the child’s grades do not improve, they may eventually schedule a meeting with the school principal to challenge the way the subject is being taught or to call into question the teacher’s credentials.

If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A.

Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn’t get them, the Chinese parent assumes it’s because the child didn’t work hard enough. That’s why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child. The Chinese parent believes that their child will be strong enough to take the shaming and to improve from it. (And when Chinese kids do excel, there is plenty of ego-inflating parental praise lavished in the privacy of the home.)

Second, Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything. The reason for this is a little unclear, but it’s probably a combination of Confucian filial piety and the fact that the parents have sacrificed and done so much for their children. (And it’s true that Chinese mothers get in the trenches, putting in long grueling hours personally tutoring, training, interrogating and spying on their kids.) Anyway, the understanding is that Chinese children must spend their lives repaying their parents by obeying them and making them proud.

By contrast, I don’t think most Westerners have the same view of children being permanently indebted to their parents. My husband, Jed, actually has the opposite view. “Children don’t choose their parents,” he once said to me. “They don’t even choose to be born. It’s parents who foist life on their kids, so it’s the parents’ responsibility to provide for them. Kids don’t owe their parents anything. Their duty will be to their own kids.” This strikes me as a terrible deal for the Western parent.

Third, Chinese parents believe that they know what is best for their children and therefore override all of their children’s own desires and preferences. That’s why Chinese daughters can’t have boyfriends in high school and why Chinese kids can’t go to sleepaway camp. It’s also why no Chinese kid would ever dare say to their mother, “I got a part in the school play! I’m Villager Number Six. I’ll have to stay after school for rehearsal every day from 3:00 to 7:00, and I’ll also need a ride on weekends.” God help any Chinese kid who tried that one.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s not that Chinese parents don’t care about their children. Just the opposite. They would give up anything for their children. It’s just an entirely different parenting model.

Here’s a story in favor of coercion, Chinese-style. Lulu was about 7, still playing two instruments, and working on a piano piece called “The Little White Donkey” by the French composer Jacques Ibert. The piece is really cute—you can just imagine a little donkey ambling along a country road with its master—but it’s also incredibly difficult for young players because the two hands have to keep schizophrenically different rhythms.

Lulu couldn’t do it. We worked on it nonstop for a week, drilling each of her hands separately, over and over. But whenever we tried putting the hands together, one always morphed into the other, and everything fell apart. Finally, the day before her lesson, Lulu announced in exasperation that she was giving up and stomped off.

“Get back to the piano now,” I ordered.

“You can’t make me.”

“Oh yes, I can.”

Back at the piano, Lulu made me pay. She punched, thrashed and kicked. She grabbed the music score and tore it to shreds. I taped the score back together and encased it in a plastic shield so that it could never be destroyed again. Then I hauled Lulu’s dollhouse to the car and told her I’d donate it to the Salvation Army piece by piece if she didn’t have “The Little White Donkey” perfect by the next day. When Lulu said, “I thought you were going to the Salvation Army, why are you still here?” I threatened her with no lunch, no dinner, no Christmas or Hanukkah presents, no birthday parties for two, three, four years. When she still kept playing it wrong, I told her she was purposely working herself into a frenzy because she was secretly afraid she couldn’t do it. I told her to stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic.

Jed took me aside. He told me to stop insulting Lulu—which I wasn’t even doing, I was just motivating her—and that he didn’t think threatening Lulu was helpful. Also, he said, maybe Lulu really just couldn’t do the technique—perhaps she didn’t have the coordination yet—had I considered that possibility?

“You just don’t believe in her,” I accused.

“That’s ridiculous,” Jed said scornfully. “Of course I do.”

“Sophia could play the piece when she was this age.”

“But Lulu and Sophia are different people,” Jed pointed out.

“Oh no, not this,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Everyone is special in their special own way,” I mimicked sarcastically. “Even losers are special in their own special way. Well don’t worry, you don’t have to lift a finger. I’m willing to put in as long as it takes, and I’m happy to be the one hated. And you can be the one they adore because you make them pancakes and take them to Yankees games.”

I rolled up my sleeves and went back to Lulu. I used every weapon and tactic I could think of. We worked right through dinner into the night, and I wouldn’t let Lulu get up, not for water, not even to go to the bathroom. The house became a war zone, and I lost my voice yelling, but still there seemed to be only negative progress, and even I began to have doubts.

Then, out of the blue, Lulu did it. Her hands suddenly came together—her right and left hands each doing their own imperturbable thing—just like that.

Lulu realized it the same time I did. I held my breath. She tried it tentatively again. Then she played it more confidently and faster, and still the rhythm held. A moment later, she was beaming.

“Mommy, look—it’s easy!” After that, she wanted to play the piece over and over and wouldn’t leave the piano. That night, she came to sleep in my bed, and we snuggled and hugged, cracking each other up. When she performed “The Little White Donkey” at a recital a few weeks later, parents came up to me and said, “What a perfect piece for Lulu—it’s so spunky and so her.”

Even Jed gave me credit for that one. Western parents worry a lot about their children’s self-esteem. But as a parent, one of the worst things you can do for your child’s self-esteem is to let them give up. On the flip side, there’s nothing better for building confidence than learning you can do something you thought you couldn’t.

There are all these new books out there portraying Asian mothers as scheming, callous, overdriven people indifferent to their kids’ true interests. For their part, many Chinese secretly believe that they care more about their children and are willing to sacrifice much more for them than Westerners, who seem perfectly content to let their children turn out badly. I think it’s a misunderstanding on both sides. All decent parents want to do what’s best for their children. The Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that.

Western parents try to respect their children’s individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions, supporting their choices, and providing positive reinforcement and a nurturing environment. By contrast, the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they’re capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.

—Amy Chua is a professor at Yale Law School and author of “Day of Empire” and “World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability.” This essay is excerpted from “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua, to be published Tuesday by the Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Copyright © 2011 by Amy Chua.

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23 thoughts on “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior

  1. Amy Chua is not only more strict than myself (born in US) , she is also way more strict than any Chinese mom I know born in China or Taiwan or HongKong or Singapore. Although all moms have kids play violin, piano, expect straight A’s, they also let kids have sleepovers and playdates, be in plays, and have fun as well. I only know one mom who will not allow her daughter to have a sleepover, and she does let her son have a sleepover. It is more of a custom to protect daughter. (And we are talking a lot of moms here)

  2. what the hell type of garbage parenting is this? I am an immigrant from Nigeria and was raised in a very old world style. I also saw many children in the old country in both extremely wealthy families and poor ones where the same type of dehumanizing parenting is practised. From seeing what it does to most of the children it is very destructive.

    Also many of the kids that I have seen raised to be number 1 can have real ethical problems due to the impossible task of being better than every other human.

  3. you’re psychotic.

    no, seriously.

    and to say this is “good” for children of that upbringing is total b.s. I say so because my wife was raised this way and it scarred her tremendously. it’s no, “oh, i feel helpless now” sort of bourgeois suffering. it sincerely scarred her and devastated her sense of self-worth until she rejected it.

    the fact that you’re treating your children the same way shows the negative impact it had on you, as well. you may think you’re getting good results, but all your doing is getting short-term good “face” for yourself at the risk of your child’s fragile mental state. it’s kind of like when companies take advantage of employees in the short term so they can sell out the company for the profits. yea, that’s what you’re doing because in 18 years, they live on their own. oh i have no doubt you’ll have guilted them sufficiently into believing that they need to take care of you when you age, so you *might* be okay, there. just in case, i’d put away money for a retirement home.

    my wife’s sister did the same; took that route. when she and her husband divorced, the children chose to go with their father. the children FOUGHT to go with their father. the most incredible part is that she calls the children ungrateful as a result.

  4. why don’t you just go hit your children?
    wouldn’t that be also very disciplinary? maybe that would make them get an A?
    or is that finally too severe to you?
    by the sound of your nature, I am very disappointed that you generalize and stereotype Asian women into one like you.
    they are not.
    I know a boy, who is Asian. His parents are completely opposite of you, but he, himself is probably what YOU would consider the ideal child.
    I am very GLAD he is not your child.

  5. wrong> actually she probably physically abused her children, she says so when she talks about hair pulling or such so many occurrences of weapon, war, threats, fight, punished, hard etc etc. She says she made to her daughter what is considered as a torture on war prisonners (adults by the way) when it is made by the other side : not to be allowed to go to the bathroom for hours, for example.

    Dear poor mind-twisted amy chua, please understand that if it is not authorized by the Geneva convention anywhere in the world between ADULTS during a WAR, it’s probably NOT a good parenting technique. On small children. From their own parent. for god’s sake oO… I’m shocked to have to explain this to a mother, no matter her race, religion or country oO…

    here’s a piece of what you said ““Children don’t choose their parents,” he once said to me. “They don’t even choose to be born. It’s parents who foist life on their kids, so it’s the parents’ responsibility to provide for them. Kids don’t owe their parents anything. Their duty will be to their own kids.” This strikes me as a terrible deal for the Western parent.”

    a “terrible deal” for the western parent ? are you really kidding ? The parent is an adult capable of making his own decisions. to conceive a child for example. he/she is an adult and is able to decide if he/she wants or not to take all the responsibilities that goes in the process of creating another human being.

    If this is “a terrible deal” for western parents, what about the tremendous deal you put on the head of small children (not plain capable adults, but small children, for god’s sake ?!) : to accept to be slaves of all the desires and psychotic dreams from adults in deny of their own responsabilities. To be born with a debt that will never be filled, without having made any choices about that, and being punished for that debt their whole life. To manage psychotic anxious and abusive parents till they will be old enough to be able to make their own decisions, if they are able to do so after such tortures sessions all their young life… (remember, Amy : if it’s against Geneva convention, or even listed as torture by such convention, that’s NOT parenting. Repeat after me !)

    of course you are going to tell me that such an education made some good because you are here now, doing what you do. Well thanks to say so, because that’s, huh… exactly my point.

  6. hehehe. This Amy Chua woman is a professor at Yale? Brings down the credibility of Yale in my eyes.. big time.. certainly not something I expected out of an educated parent. Goes to show that grades have nothing whatsoever to do with intellectual maturity.

  7. @ tenacitus “Also many of the kids that I have seen raised to be number 1 can have real ethical problems due to the impossible task of being better than every other human.”

    Very true. What happens when they can’t cope with expectations? Like say a Marc Dreier.

    Anyway, Amy Chua’s list for developing kids has its own terrible skews. Only play two instruments? Don’t focus on exercise and the Arts (other than music?) Don’t learn how to manage peer expectations? Sure. Very useful for real life.

    (You guys should check out the comments on huffington post’s page for the article too. Some very scathingly funny.)

  8. I hope that people attend Professor Chua’s book events and openly challenge her beliefs that she is promoting in her book. Seriously, I am very curious to hear Professor Chua will defend herself. No one is denying that her style of parenting is part of Chinese and overseas Chinese behavior, but goodness gracious what is she trying to accomplish by perpetuating this sterotyped thinking?

    She needs to stick to law not parenting books. And I wonder how knowledgeable she is about Chinese culture and sociology. She isn’t even sure about the origins of” kids owing to their parents” value, claiming “I think”. That is weak. If you don’t know then don’t say, and don’t publish without proper research, fool.

    And I am sad when reading internet reactions from young Asians with LOL I know this life and I live it, thanks mom and dad. Good for you kids who appreciate the tough love, but bad for all of us Chinese as a whole.

    I have not read the book, so I can’t judge it, and just basing my opinion on this WSJ article.

  9. One of the most depressed, suicidal clients I have ever worked with had an Asian mother just like you. The only thing that saved her life was moving 1000 miles away. She hates her mother, but she made good grades! She overdosed, but she has been published! She starved herself, only eating 300 calories a day, but Mommy, yes, it had to be “Mommy” was proud of her figure! Yeah, good job you selfish child abuser. I hope you have a therapy fund. I charge $125.00 per hour and your kids are going to need A LOT of therapy!

  10. Wow.. that’s all I have to say to Amy Chua. Have you ever taken a good look at yourself in the mirror lately Miss Amy?

    I have asian parents too. My father would just LOVE your point of view Amy Chua. Oh, and how much pitty I have for his self-righteous, pompous, arrogant attitude and pathetic parenting skills..

    Children happen to have a mind of their own too. And dreams and desires.. Yes they do !! It might be hard for you to accept, but it happens!!
    Your children are NOT endebted to you. They are not a vehicle to carry out your dreams. You should breed race horses if “winning” is your ultimate motivation for upbringing your children.

    Your approach to parenting is just another example of how a perfectly good intention (in this case, securing a bright future for your kids) can have terrible execution (scarring your children in the process & making them emotional cripples).

    Amy, its a harsh world out there already. There are enough bullies in school, work etc. Home and parents are supposed to be that sanctuary where children can build a rock solid self and know they are loved no matter what. Instead, parents like you proudly boast – “Western parents are concerned about their children’s psyches. Chinese parents aren’t. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.”.. Well done.

    Wake up and take a deep look inside you Miss Amy. Take a good look at the scars you have been hiding from your own childhood abuse. You don’t have to repeat the cycle. Wake up and breathe the free air, and allow your children to do the same. And then you may find some peace.

  11. Unfortunately the daughters may grow up to be just like their mom. And where is that pussy-whipped husband or has filed for divorce already?

  12. Being raised by traditional Chinese parents, I’ve had some of the experience that was written…but never to this extreme. My parents were supportive. Yes, they made me practice an hour of piano every day, but they would NEVER ever pull my hair or wage “war” against me. Yes, they would expect straight A’s and be disappointed when I got a B. But instead of having a screaming match or going through an emotionally abusive lecture…instead they would ask if I needed help. If I needed a tutor or anything. Some of the things you’ve done…is it even humane? I can’t help but HOPE that you’re exaggerating on some of the things you’ve done. And the paragraph about you being called garbage and not caring…you must have either been very oblivious to your own feelings or just narcissistic as hell. No one feels nothing when they’re being degraded. Words hurt. And if you haven’t realized that words DO hurt, please see a therapist.

  13. Maybe this type of parenting is why China has an oppressive, communist government.

    Conformity is not necessarily the best thing to foster a free society.
    If the early Americans had conformed to British rule,
    tea might well be our national drink today, instead of coffee.

  14. Chinese mothers live in China are usually allowed ONE child.

    The sickening thing is that she’s supposedly involved in law yet it looks like she’s been breaking it by assaulting people (children to boot) literally! A Chinese mother wouldn’t risk losing face by announcing to even an individual that she needed to take measures to push her offspring, yet this monstrosity publicly announces it.

    Poor kids, they’ll never live it down when they are constantly challenged about this clearly psychotic and self centered racist.

  15. If the Chinese parenting style is so wonderful, why the higher suicide rates among the Chinese? If this method produces happier people, why is it that people (both adults and children) from Sweden score the highest on the Happiness Scale and people from China score among the lowest? How come you and others would prefer to live outside of China? If this method produces such success, why are the vast majority of innovations coming from the West, particularly from whites in America? Why do the Jews have more Nobel prizes than everyone else (know any Chinese Jews?). Why is it that the great majority of scientific discoveries and advances are made by white Westerners? Why are all the digital age innovations and empires made by the Westerners? (Google, facebook, Amazon, Twitter, You-tube, Microsoft, apple, e-bay, etc.) And if theater and sports are useless and Piano and violin are the only worthwhile instruments, how do you account for the billion dollar industries of sports, movies, theater, popular music, and alternative music? Could it be that that the fact that Westerners making their kids feel important and confident results in the kids thinking that they can conquer the world and trust themselves to take more risks? Could it be that reinforcing what your kid is interested in and naturally gifted at produces better results?

    Here in America, the Chinese and the Indians (from India) are not the only minority groups who are over represented in college and in the medical field. Jews, Russians, and Iranians are also over represented. And knowing all three cultures, I can tell you that they manage to do it without resorting to child abuse. Parents that I know have produced successful children who are now adults, but only use some of what you report, and in moderation. They have done it by having high expectations of their children and providing assistance, tutoring, and encouragement when their children do not do well rather than give up or blame the school. They stressed the importance of education and encouraged their children to have extra curricular activities. But they did allow individuality, did not belittle their kids or threaten them, and did not have World War Three over stupid little things.

    My mother told us that she did not care what we chose to study, that we should prepare to get a PhD in it, and we should make sure that we can actually translate the education into making a profession that made money. When I wanted to quit Piano after the first month, she told me that if I still didn’t like it after one year, she would let me quit, but I would have to pick up a different instrument. I did quit after two years, and focused on singing. I have sung at televised events 4 times, including a nationally televised event when as a junior in college my choir sang for President Clinton. Spending 6 hours a week in that choir in college did not hurt my academic performance. Quite opposite: I did not start to get 4.0 GPAs until I joined the choir. And I made close and lasting friendships. Two of the choir members were my bridesmaids, and one has given me great free legal advice.

    My extended family has produced more than its fair share of doctors, dentists, engineers and lawyers. But it has also produced successful businessmen, successful psychologists, a successful chemist, a successful nurse, and many successful students who have not started their professions yet. And this is despite several of us having been diagnosed with things such as ADHD and Learning Disability. I love my parents. I think I would have hated you if I had you as my parent, because apparently you would love your children less if they were not perfect at everything. I would end up like that Asian kid at my college who committed suicide because he was getting a C in Organic Chemistry.

  16. For those of you non Chinese folks reading this- all Chinese moms are NOT like this. This is her opinion. Her parents age would have to be “Pre cultural revolution.” Most people I know who have immigrated post cultural revolution are much less strict. As mentioned in my previous post and in other posts by Asian people, she is extreme. I even know some parents who are the exact opposite of her because they were raised as she was. In the current one child per family policy you are also seeing more spoiled and indulged children as well. Although the general stereotype of expecting excellent grades, and playing violin and /or piano hold true, most parents I know have kids involved in other activities, allow them to add an additional instrument if desired, allow kids choices regarding activities, and allow kids freedom and fun with their friends- including computer games. I would imagine she wrote this as a backlash to many American families that are often discussed behind the scenes as we wonder why these kids with every opportunity do not focus at all on studying, play games all the time, and parents seem not to care about academic performance. I would also add that great similarities exist between Russian families as well- Many are extremely strict even to the point of abuse. I know some Jewish families as well who have done a great job of making kids feeling guilty if they are not 100% successful. Sadly, Amy Chua has stereotyped herself and grouped all other Chinese moms with her. I would imagine she has a personality disorder and sees herself as wonderful. She probably is utterly surprised at the chaos that has erupted as a result of her book. She probably thinks all Asian families will think she is wonderful. She is wrong. She probably will also have a negative impact on her professional reputation as well.

  17. ok, this is scary. I am saying it as an educator, as a human, as a daughter and possibly future mother. I am coming from Eastern Europe, with a lot of “traditional” upbringing, including even occasional corporal punishment. School was pretty easy for me, so that’s not much of a problem. But similar style of “motivation”, just not including emotional torture as illustrated here, by pushing harder, criticizing a lot and so on. Because of that I have to be in therapy to learn how to deal with real criticism, how not to be paranoid of disappointing others, of never being good enough. Much more subtle and softer
    “traditional” methods cause scars. And I was a happy kid, I could run, spend hours outside chasing ball and wind.

    I can’t even imagine what twisted mind could do such harm to a child. Reaching a goal is not all, the way you go in this direction is more important.

  18. Strict, demanding parenting is one thing. This is flat out child abuse. My mother is/was a yeller and she never lost her voice. Amazing.

  19. Wow! That’s crazy parenting advice. I am Chinese from Hong Kong and grew up in Canada. My mom’s idea of encouragements for me to do better was to tell me what I was doing wrong ALL the time. She said the things that I do right, she does not need to comment on. Up to university, I did very well at school so that was not a problem with my mom. At a point in my life where I was not doing too well with my life, my mom even called me “useless”. It was very hurtful and even when I didn’t want to acknowlege what was said, it was carved in my brain and affected me negatively. Needless to say, it had a negative impact on my self esteem. It took getting married and being away from my mom that I slowly gained my self esteem back. So I disagree with Amy Chua on this point.

    My mom never considered what I was good at or interested at and only thought about a career where I can make money. I wished I had the guts to apply for an Arts College now! I love art and design and I wished my mom gave me support to enroll in this field.

    Another negative point is that I was raised where I had to listen to my mom to the detriment of being able to think for myself. I had to learn how to make decisions on my own when I was 28!

    So, now that I am married and have 2 kids, I will not be raising my kids in that fashion. I praise them as well as correct them. I will make sure I see where their talent lies to guide them in their future careers. My son plays soccer and my daughter does dance. It would be nice if they played an instrument but only if they want to and enjoy it. I would say that if they did their best in whatever they did, I would be a happy mom.

  20. How amazing everyone on this comment totally missed Amy Chua’s point – I CLEARLY SAW WHAT SHE WANTED TO SAY: GET YOUR KIDS TO BE GOOD AT WHAT THEY DO AND THEY WILL ENJOY IT!

    As the Chinese parents of 3 kids, we never share the viewpoint of Amy, yet I sincerely thank her for sharing her success story – how to motivate your kids to try to excel. Once they taste success, they will be self motivated and will continue to do well. She encouraged me to not allow my kids to give up on whatever it is important – be it academic, friends, music and yes, even sports, so that when the kids taste success, they will excel.

    Make sure your kids know there will be great reward after their hard work, and that they will enjoy what they used to hate (academic?)!!

    The rest of her post is just fluff. No need to get all agitated about.

  21. READ THE BOOK!!! gosh yes she was cruel but what happened in the end? do you know?

    Honestly I grew up with no talent or motivation because my mom never taught me anything since she forgot about everything bout school….

    I wish everyday that I could have at least played an instrument… i do agree it was harsh…way too harsh but she didn’t do it for herself but for her children….

    Although some still grew up fine raised by western parent… in fact some are very successful..

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