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    Chinese Mothers: Theory and Practice

    Chinese Mothers: Theory and Practice

    There was a recent article in the WSJ by Amy Chua detailing the superiority of Chinese mothers. “[The author was] using the term “Chinese mother” loosely. [As s]ome Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents qualify too.” Basically, being a Chinese mother entails never letting one’s child “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.”

    I think there is a lot to be said for being a strict parent; it certainly isn’t easy to discipline a child. However, the world Chua describes seems absolutely unpleasant for all parties involved. I can only speak on the receiving end of child-rearing to say that I don’t think I would have made the choices I did if I was solely focused on parentally-defined success. Furthermore, my time at schools like NYU & Cornell have led me to encounter the products of these types of “Chinese mothers.” Most of these children, upon coming into contact with things like alcohol and having to engage in social behavior, don’t always fare well. Also, I suspect it might also be hard to be satisfied with oneself, despite a high GPA, since there is – naturally – always room for improvement.

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on the matter.



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    I'll ask my mother if I can post a comment.

    While in college, I actually knew several students who were products of actual Chinese mothers of this sort, and all with one exception, were serious binge drinkers, all were anti-social types. I've known others since then, and had friends and co-workers who relayed experiences with now adult, children of such types of Chinese mothers, and I can't help but believe that these people are content, happy and stable. I've read the article, and can't believe Ms. Chua, she's living on another planet.

    My son recently graduated from an intensive, complete immersion Mandarin Chinese course of study.

    I have been known for being strict with my kids as they were growing up — we were the "mean" parents who enforced the rules, didn't let underage drinking or drugs at parties held in our house, and for having a high bar for achievement for our kids. Weekends were for homework, extracurricular self-study, mandatory chores and THEN fun.

    My older three, who are now grown and doing well in the world, thanked me for our adherence to discipline and standards, even though at the time as teens they resented our "uncoolness".

    My son said his Chinese teachers called me a "Tiger Mother" because it is clear that he was raised in a home with expectations of a strong self-driven work ethic and discipline. This was the first time I had heard this explanation.

    That being said, even by Chinese standards, Ms. Chua is over the top, bordering on abuse.

    Rather than complimenting her as a "Tiger Mother", a term of admiration in Chinese culture, she's more like the Sino version of Mommy Dearest.

    From first hand knowledge I know at Harvard when many students shop a class and see a majority of Asian students in the class they drop it. It would just take too much work to get a good grade in that environment.

    When I was young the Jewish kids I knew went to Hebrew school on Saturday. I was just happy I didn't have to go. Many of those same Jewish kids went on to be very successful adults. Now in a place like Ithaca, NY the Chinese community has Chinese language classes for their children on Saturday. On Saturdays some kids are hanging out at the mall or playing video games. Other kids are learning a second language.

    There are more children studying classical music like violin or piano in China than there are children in the United States.

    Asian families tend to regard education very seriously. Homework is the responsibility of both the student and the family. Many times Asian families do homework together until it is all complete.

    Correct me if I'm wrong. Doesn't Cornell, like the California state higher education system and other schools, have a limit to the number of Asian students it admits so as to leave room for other students.

    My brother-in-law works for a very large high tech electronics company. The vast majority of their new electrical engineering hires are Asian, South Asian or European. Native born non Asian Americans are a very small minority of new hires.

    When was the last time you saw a fat Asian?

    Chua, possibly, has never lived in China. If she had, she'd know that lots of Chinese parents purchase their children way through because, as China becomes wealthy, Chinese parents are buying all the toys that Western parents do for their kids, including good grades. The average Chinese kid busts his butt all through high school and copies his way through university. University is a coast for them cuz all the energy is expended getting there.

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