Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Best Way to Raise Children...Maybe

Amy Chua surely knows how to create a buzz...or an explosion, depending on how you see it as a parent. Her recently released book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother has literally created battle lines among mothers across the blogosphere, especially within the Chinese and Caucasian communities. Really...she should have been a boxer because she holds no punches when describing what she sees as the failure of American motherhood when compared with that of the "Chinese Mom."
See, Chua is convinced that American Moms are too soft: they let their kids have sleepovers, playdates and encourage things like signing up for the school short, she thinks American moms are too permissive and allow their children to give up too easily. Understand, this is a woman whose 7 and 4-year-old daughters made her handmade Mother's Day cards...which she proceeded to throw back at them and tell them they weren't done well enough! At one point, she emphasized to her older daughter Sophia that she was "garbage" for letting her behavior slide. Nothing less than an "A" grade was acceptable unless it was in a drama class or a gym class, and Chua refused to let her children do anything but homework and practice the violin (though they also had a choice to practice the piano for hours on end). Her reasoning for this somewhat heavy-handed approach?
"Children never want to work which is why it is critical to override their preferences. Rote repetition is underrated in America."
Lest you think this is a) some crackpot or b) unusual behavior in a Chinese mom, I beg to differ. According to the report in the New York Times over the last few days, Chua is a Harvard Ph.D. and many of the responses to her books have come in the form of letters from women of Chinese descent noting that people could now understand why they were in therapy.
In recent editions, Chua has attempted to defuse some of the eviscerating criticism by saying that one really needed to read the WHOLE book before making a judgment, since she feels that she finally comes around a bit when her daughters refuse to be cowed by her as they aged.
This story has really had an impact: one the one hand, tell me that we DON'T let kids give up too easily or that we always hold them to a high standard. It would be hard to deny some of the claims she makes about what's gone "wrong" with either children or parenting in this country. her daughter performed on the violin at Carnegie Hall at age 14.
None of my kids did that.
But so far, none is in therapy, and I don't think any of them hate me.


At 9:10 PM, Blogger UpsideDown Kate said...

I actually am waiting for this book to arrive. Regarding your other post: I was one of those foolish children who upon hearing those "just like you" words, responded by saying, "I hope I do too. I'll show you how easy it is to raise a person like me". My daughter is without a doubt like me. And EXHAUSTING.


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