Today’s WSJ essay ‘Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior’ is included in Amy Chua’s new book ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’, released next week.
Her arguments will offend many, but given the sinking academic performances of America’s children, Chua’s assertion that parenting — not only America’s messed-up school system — should be front and center in the debate of how to raise successful children resonates.
Asian mothers are stereotypically considered “scheming, callous, overdriven people indifferent to their kids true interests” writes Chua.
In reality, she argues, these tough love moms care more about their children and are willing to make sacrifices on behalf of their kids, compared to more permissive moms “who seem perfectly content to let their children turn out badly.”
Chua is a superb writer. We share one passage from her WSJ essay about preparation for her daughter Lulu’s piano recital. Jed is Amy’s husband, Sophia her older daughter:
“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.
David Brooks weighs in on parenting in Amy Chua Is a Wimp, an op-ed piece for the NYTimes. Generally supporting the author, Brooks notes that Amy Chua seems to dismiss sleepovers and other child socializing opportunities as not a good use of her daughters time.
On the contrary, writes Brooks:
Chua would do better to see the classroom as a cognitive break from the truly arduous tests of childhood. Where do they learn how to manage people? Where do they learn to construct and manipulate metaphors? Where do they learn to perceive details of a scene the way a hunter reads a landscape? Where do they learn how to detect their own shortcomings? Where do they learn how to put themselves in others’ minds and anticipate others’ reactions?