Much ado is being made about Amy Chua’s recent piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.” Tell us how you really feel, Ms. Chua.
I have to say upfront that I truly know nothing about Chinese parenting methods, and the little I do know comes from reading Amy Tan novels. Which could possibly be the same as nothing.
But what strikes me about the article is the strident nature of Ms. Chua’s superiority. And in a sense, I suppose she is correct in saying her parenting style has produced results. Her daughter has apparently played piano at Carnegie Hall, which is a wonderful accomplishment. My son, on the other hand, has played the tambourine (badly) for an audience comprised solely of his baby sister. So I suppose she is at least one up on me there.
She does say that the term “Chinese mother” does not necessarily apply only to people of Chinese ancestry, but is rather describing a certain parenting style. This is opposed to “Western parenting” which she says can also be anyone of any ancestry.
That being said, I fall firmly in the Western category, and I’m not ashamed of it.
I cannot bring myself to dictate to my son what his interests should or shouldn’t be. Ms. Chua states that she only allowed her daughters to study piano or violin, no other instruments were considered. I can’t imagine doing that to my son. I mean, I might be depriving the world of a world-class tambourine player if I did so.
This part of her story, though, did resonate with me:
First, I’ve noticed that Western parents are extremely anxious about their children’s self-esteem. They worry about how their children will feel if they fail at something, and they constantly try to reassure their children about how good they are notwithstanding a mediocre performance on a test or at a recital. In other words, Western parents are concerned about their children’s psyches. Chinese parents aren’t. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.
I think she might have a little something there. It is possible that Western parents are too worried about self-esteem. I mean, hello everybody-gets-a-trophy sports!
The way in which she describes going about motivating her youngest child to master a particularly different piano piece, however, seem a bit over the top to me. But, a book needs to be sold, does it not?
But that must be the sloth mother in me.
I’m going to overcome my weak Western parenting style, ASAP.
Tambourine practice, seven days a week. I hope the Munchkin is ready for it.