Saturday, April 23, 2011

Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior?



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?

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:


CAU cover
Erin Patrice O'Brien for The Wall Street Journal
Amy Chua with her daughters, Louisa and Sophia, at their home in New Haven, Conn.
• 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.

Ms. Chua answers questions from Journal readers who wrote in to the Ideas Market blog.
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.

READ HERE



Amy Chua, 48, started a firestorm when she published her memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. When an entire nation reacts so strongly to something, you know you have hit a nerve. And Amy did. She hit us where it hurts, questioning our parenting, our kids' educational achievement and our nation's ability to compete globally in today's world.
Unlike the excerpt that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, titled (not by her) "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior," Amy's book is a nuanced story of how her parenting had to evolve to take into account the differences between her children. Parenting is hard and humbling for all of us. If there were a right way to raise your kids, everyone would do it. Clearly that's not the case. In China, this book is being marketed as a tale about the importance of giving children more Western freedom.
Few have the guts to parent in public. Amy's memoir is brutally honest, and her willingness to share her struggles is a gift. Whether or not you agree with her priorities and approach, she should be applauded for raising these issues with a thoughtful, humorous and authentic voice.
And by the way, I've met her daughters. They are both phenomenal.
Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook