The discovery I am referring to is an article on the Wall Street Journal by Amy Chua titled Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.
Even the title makes me bristle.
In the piece Chua talks about the difference between “permissive Western parenting” and “demanding Eastern parenting.”
It is an article filled with explosive content.
Chua, a mother herself, addresses the belief system and tactics used by Chinese mothers to raise successful children. She discloses that her own children have never been allowed to do the following:
- attend a sleepover
- have a play date
- 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.
In essence, the article basically states that Western parents do not have as high a standard for our children, thus producing more mediocre children. An excerpt, “Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight As. Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best. Chinese parents can say, ‘You’re lazy. All your classmates are getting ahead of you.’ By contrast, Western parents have to struggle with their own conflicted feelings about achievement, and try to persuade themselves that they’re not disappointed about how their kids turned out… Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them.”
As a mother, I am truly conflicted here. While I certainly admire the tenacity of the “Chinese mother,” (her stereotyping, not mine) I also can’t help but question their children’s mental well being. Especially after reading the author describe an altercation she had with her 7-year-old daughter Lulu during which she screamed, insulted (“I told her to stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic”), physically restrained (“Lulu punched, thrashed and kicked”) and refused to let her even go to the bathroom during a multi-hour piano practice of “The Little White Donkey” by the French composer Jacques Ibert. By the end of the night her daughter had mastered the piece.
Despite her despicable tactics (my opinion) this article does cause me to wonder about my own parenting. Am I pushing my children to their full potential? Am I too laissez-faire about their life choices and childhood? Am I too permissive? Too lazy? Too self-indulgent?
Am I cheating my children out of greatness? Or am I raising well-rounded individuals not dependant on academic achievement to feel worthwhile?
Please take a moment to read the article. What do you think about her mothering philosophy or her take on the “Chinese mother?” Are we “Western mothers” lacking?