Saturday, January 15, 2011

Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior

I love this article! Brilliant. It can spark unending discussions of cultural and parenting differences, and inform parents of how to best prepare their children for adulthood.

I have great respect for mothers like Amy Chua, and wish my wife and I were more like her. I am afraid we have been much too soft on our children, sensitive to their feelings and have caved in to their desires far too often. I am sure that has resulted in their poorer development and performance, and perhaps will result in greater anxiety and lower self-esteem as they move into adulthood because they are not as well prepared and disciplined as they could be. But the truth is that Chinese mothers like Amy Chua are incredibly self-sacrificing, and few parents, even Chinese ones, have the will to put in the work required to demand such performance from their kids.

This article is also incredibly idealistic. I live in a Chinese society, and know that for every ONE child like Amy's, there are 100 children that endure the shame and hardship parents and teachers heap on them without developing into brilliant successes, but rather, they struggle with mediocre performance (most Chinese children DO NOT get all As!), insecurity, depression, lack of self-identity/awareness and little creativity or individual initiative.

And only 1 in 100 Chinese parents put in the personal supervision that Amy did to drill their kids - most leave it to teachers and tutors and nannies and grandparents while they are out working long hours. Yes, they may scold their kids and demand high performance, but they do not put in the personal time with their children to make sure they excel.

There are good Chinese mothers, and there are poor Chinese mothers. I am not sure that Amy Chua's example is so much a proof of the superiority of Chinese mothers as it is a prrof of the superiority of Amy Chua as a mother. I have no doubt that her energy, intelligence, and dedication - applied to Western parenting styles - would produce as successful and as happy children as she did following Chinese principles.

Plus, it sounds like she has a Western culture husband, which may prove that the best environment is one that provides both the high demand and discipline of a Chinese approach WITH the high affection and affirmation of the Western approach.

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.

1 comment:

Alex Tang said...

I agree with you that the article shows the commitment, sacrifice and tough love of Amy Chua and should not be used as an archetype of Chinese mothers. We must take not that the book is written as a memoirs and not as a manual.