Amy Chua, author of the new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, is causing quite a storm and providing lots to write about on blogs, twitter and facebook and talk about on TV. Chua, a Chinese American, wrote a book about how she is happy to have raised her children “the Chinese way.” This involves strenuous commitment to academic achievement and a huge amount of parental control even in the teen years – way beyond what is generally thought to be acceptable in the United States. Some people say it is the “Immigrants Way” and tied to the belief anyone can achieve the American Dream if they work hard enough. Amy’s parenting includes things like no playdates or sleepovers and only As are acceptable.
Chua explains this Chinese philosophy as commitment to family over the individual, having high expectations and teaching children about making choices.
Chua’s 18 year daughter responded to her mother’s critics with this - ”To me, it’s not about achievement or self-gratification. It’s about knowing that you’ve pushed yourself, body and mind, to the limits of your own potential.” Wouldn’t any of us be happy to have that be the philosophy of our own 18 year old?
Whether or not you agree with Chua’s philosophy, her book provides a great conversation starter for the conversation that we should be having about parenting today. I think this might be a good read for parents.
I must admit that I do wonder whether American parents today care too much about sports and entertainment and don’t put enough of their personal time into encouraging and stimulating academic achievement. I don’t think the answer is violin lessons and not allowing sleepovers and playdates. My advice is to work at finding balance. In the end we want to raise children to reach their potential. But we also want them to enjoy life.
I hope to provide intellectual stimulation for my grandson as he gets older but I’m glad that his parents won’t be doing it the “Chinese way.”
What do you think? I hope you’ll leave a comment and join the conversation.
I agree with one of the Tiger Mom's points--that there is nothing quite like learning to do something that is very hard. That provides children with a sense of satisfaction that can't be matched. On the other hand, she details some parenting behavior that I simply see as inexcusable--calling her daughter "garbage," making herself hoarse from yelling at her, etc. That's bad parenting no matter what your background and culture. I think we can definitely learn something from the Chinese culture of child-rearing--not to pamper too much and to have high expectations. They can learn something from us--that kids need to have time to dream, to socialize, to create and even occasionally to do nothing.
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