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Old 01-14-2011, 05:43 PM   #16
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The whole piece is extremely arrogant, and is clearly targeted at weak examples of American parenting, but it sounds like it was out of context anyway, so whatever.
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Old 01-14-2011, 07:04 PM   #17
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i found this really interesting, and for me, perhaps not being a parent, i find these parental concerns, while understandable, fairly self-absorbed. does it really matter how *you* (the collective "you," not "you, Yolland") feel about how you feel your child reflects your parenting skills?
Well, yes, it is self-absorbed, but whether that's Really Bad or just plain old Being Human is a matter of degree, I think. To use an analogy--it's like, here you are, setting out on a walk with your loveable, chubby, and also @!#% stubborn and less-than-perfectly-behaved bulldog mix, who's presently pulling on the leash and gazing eagerly at the kids across the street rather than you. And now here comes the hotshot executive who lives up the block, running his daily 10 miles with his handsome, buff, perfectly behaved Lab who's per usual off-leash, yet running in perfect sync with his master, whom he never takes his adoring eyes off of. And for a moment you flinch and think--That does it, I'm gonna rent me some of those Dog Whisperer training DVDs, maybe even sign us up for an agility-training class, and put him on a diet and get rid of that potbelly once and for all. But then defensiveness kicks in--THAT dog is a fanatically disciplined and overcontrolled ROBOT who exists only to impress and awe his owner's friends, MY dog has PERSONALITY and everybody loves him and thinks he's the greatest because I let him be who he is. Sure, it's all kinda vain and silly, because so long as dog and owner are both content and the dog is obedient enough to pose no danger to other dogs, people, or possessions, the rest is really just differences in approach to dog ownership, not a matter of better or worse. But we don't always maintain conscious awareness that 'parenting' (whether of kids or canines) is about duty and responsibility as well as pleasure and togetherness, and there's nothing like a little invidious comparison to remind you with a jolt of whichever part you weren't consciously holding in mind just now.
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assuming a base level of good citizenship and basic kindness, is it not better that you have a child who is happy, whether or not that child derives their happiness from making the parent happy or from whatever else? or is a child's happiness even the point here?
..............................
but i dunno. i felt like i was pushed, possibly too much at certain points, but the pushing was only unpleasant when it felt like it was to gratify my mother rather than achieve my own goals.
One thing that's always been very important to me as a parent--though more as a personal philosophy, not something I'd hold forth on to my kids themselves--is that it's a pretty sad indictment if all I can articulate about what I want for them is "happiness." Especially since, however desperately I might--and do--want that, it really is the goal I'm least capable of ensuring in the long view. (I would've loved for my father to have seen me earn my doctorate and become a professor. I'd just as soon he not know how much I've struggled with depression or selfish feelings of envy towards people who are smarter or more prolific or more likeable, even though I'm well aware that like everyone else, he had his share of demons too.) I wish I could say I fully share Chua's professed 'Chinese-style confidence' that children's psyches are so natively strong. But I do in some part agree with her that you mustn't fall into the trap of being afraid to challenge, confront and at times curtail them as if you were sure they are--and if there's some unpleasant 'feedback' as a result at times, so what. In a strange way, it actually gives me comfort to envision that one day my kids are going to sit around in a bar with their friends and declare, 'My parents did this, and that, and those things were wrong, and not stuff I'll do with my own kids'...provided, naturally, that it's not said with some deep-seated inflection of hostility and embitteredness, the sort that accompanies pretty deep psychic scars.

I do agree that the satisfaction of making your parents proud (through whatever means you deliver it) is one of those things that only emerges if it comes wholly from you. Certainly one can't just lecture one's kids that they have some 'duty' to make you proud and expect it to follow from that, and I doubt that's what Chua meant to imply, either. I don't know how common this sense even is among Americans towards their parents, and I obviously can't speak to the Chinese-American version of it. I do know that for many, if not most, American Jews roughly my age on up--and particularly for those whose parents were immigrant or first-generation, like mine--there was something at least somewhat similar there, an unspoken understanding that you have a duty to do your people, and in the process your parents, proud: your murdered relatives never got their chance to succeed and contribute, therefore you must; likewise, your parents have invested the lion's share of their adult hopes, ambitions, resources, and capacity for devotion directly in YOU, therefore you must pay that back by paying it forward. But I'd want to emphasize that this is first and foremost a felt emotional dynamic that comes from inside you, not something that's suffocatingly enforced and threateningly held over your head at every turn. Are there parents who unfortunately made it feel like precisely the latter, and children who suffered and/or rebelled as a result--sure. But mostly, it's a response that comes about because you really want it--it simply feels good, feels deeply affirming in a way the accomplishments themselves don't, to "give" them to your parents and your community, the sense of belonging through shared heritage that unites you. I don't really expect my own children will feel this, precisely--times have changed, social circumstances have changed; I suppose I do, though, tend to proceed under the assumption that that sense of being answerable to a heritage, and the accompaniment of that with feelings of confidence and joy in belonging rather than intimidation and dread at the responsibility, will one way or the other come through for them. In any case, I'm ultimately far more concerned that they grow up to embody the values I associate with that heritage, than that they directly identify with it per se. Maybe this is something like the journey Chua went through both as a child and a parent, maybe not.
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:01 PM   #18
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I think her kids might suffer some future problems as a result, if they aren't already. I can't imagine being under that kind of pressure from a parent. Balance is healthy.
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:46 PM   #19
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How does her parenting model account for families that have children all raised the same way yet there's variation in grades, strengths/weaknesses, responsible behavior....??
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Old 01-14-2011, 09:10 PM   #20
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The article is definitely over the top--to the point where I sometimes wonder if Chua wasn't humorously overstating to make her point. Certainly, if taken completely at face value I would find her views harsh to say the least.

But I didn't take the article completely at face value. I saw it as a much needed corrective, with ideas that if at least considered would help American parents and their kids pull away from an increasingly entertainment-oriented approach to every aspect of life, not necessarily to Chua's other extreme, but hopefully to more of a balance in between.

For me, my biggest objecton to Chua's viewpoint is just that for me, having my son have a high-paying, prestigious job is not that important to me. At the same time, I'm not content merely for him to selfishly pursue "whatever makes him happy." I hope to teach him the value of service, of choosing a life that seeks to make the world a better place. Of course the best way I can teach that is not by forcing it down his throat, but by striving to modeling it. If as an adult, he gears his lifework around making a difference and being a blessing to others, I will be more than proud.
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Old 01-15-2011, 12:47 PM   #21
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In Ireland, in my experience, Chinese immigrants are hard-working and sociable and, strangely enough, integrate better and make more of an effort to 'fit in' than immigrants from Eastern Europe. Poles tend to stick to their own communities whereas the Chinese and Asian immigrants are more likely to make friends with Irish people.

I don't necessarily think they are any better educated than Irish people. They are generally extremely confident without being arrogant in any way. (Of course, economic migrants in general are perhaps more likely to be confident and extrovert than those who stay at home.) They have not been here for long enough to progress to positions of authority in Irish society but that may change over time. Our own native oligarchy have failed us so why not let the Chinese run the place, say I!
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Old 01-15-2011, 02:46 PM   #22
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The article is definitely over the top--to the point where I sometimes wonder if Chua wasn't humorously overstating to make her point.
you may be on to something

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Amy Chua:

And so the book is about many of the strengths that I see and that kind of tough immigrant parenting, but also about my mistakes. It's about making fun of myself - a lot of people miss this - and ultimately, about my decision to sort of pull back when really confronted in a moment of crisis.

So the book is absolutely not a how-to book. I do not think the Chinese way is superior. It's a memoir. It's really sort of a story of my own journey and transformation as a mother, and it does explore these issues. You know, what's the right balance?
This is a topic to which I probably won't devote a lot of my time.

But, I did hear a segment on NPR today with her about this.

Here it is.

A Memoir Of A 'Tiger Mother's' Quest For Perfection : NPR
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Old 01-15-2011, 04:07 PM   #23
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i am very thankful my experience as a daughter and as a mother couldn't be further away from her "methods"... horrifying stuff!!!

her book has been causing a bit of a stir in the media over here as well... seems things did backfire for her youngest daughter in the end...

Amy Chua: 'I'm going to take all your stuffed animals and burn them!' | Life and style | The Guardian

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The book bares all about how the parenting model worked for her older daughter Sophia, now 17 and heading off to an Ivy League college, but backfired dramatically for her younger girl, Louisa, or Lulu, who is now 14. Chua spares no detail in recounting her early methods: banning television and computer games, refusing sleepovers and playdates, drilling academic activities for hours, insisting on lengthy daily practice of the piano (Sophia) and violin (Louisa), including weekends, high days and holidays. Even travelling abroad, Chua would book a practice room near their hotel. With missionary zeal, Chua spurned the permissive style of "western parents" (she uses the term loosely), the tendency to underplay academic achievement (no rote learning!) and emphasise nurturing, play and self-esteem (overfetishised!). The result is that at times Battle Hymn reads like an American-Asian version of Mommie Dearest.

Dominant throughout is the powerful figure of Chua herself, a larger-than-life matriarch: draconian, emotionally volatile, loving, often verbally cruel, hard-working, always devoted. Chua herself was raised on the Chinese parenting model, and her view is simple: "Childhood is a training period, a time to build character and invest in the future." As a result, both daughters are straight-A students, over-achieving and musically accomplished. By the time Sophia is 14 she has performed Prokofiev's Juliet as a Young Girl at the Carnegie Hall in New York while Lulu, aged 11, auditions for the pre-college programme at the world-famous Juilliard School.

But the cracks beneath the surface begin to show. Toothmarks are found on the piano (the culprit is Sophia, who gnaws on it during practice), and Lulu becomes rebellious, openly defying her teacher and her mother and bitterly complaining in public about her home life. By the age of 13, writes Chua, "[Lulu] wore a constant apathetic look on her face, and every other word out of her mouth was 'no' or 'I don't care'."

What brings the situation to an end is two horrifying incidents. First, Lulu hacks off her hair with a pair of scissors; then, on a family holiday to Moscow, she and Chua get into a public argument that culminates in Lulu smashing a glass in a cafe, screaming, "I'm not what you want – I'm not Chinese! I don't want to be Chinese. Why can't you get that through your head? I hate the violin. I hate my life. I hate you, and I hate this family!" Her relationship with Lulu in crisis, Chua, finally, thankfully, raises the white flag.
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Old 01-15-2011, 04:22 PM   #24
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another interesting excerpt... looks like she's had a real change of heart...

the whole thing has been great publicity for her book...

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Nevertheless, fact, and her own telling of it, shows that the way she brought up her children nearly wrecked her relationship with Lulu, and in some ways Battle Hymn can been seen as her atonement for that. "I think I stopped just in time," she says. "Right now it seems OK, but I have many regrets … I have a head full of regrets. I worry that by losing my temper so much and being so harsh and yelling so much that, by example, I will have taught my daughters to be that way, and I'm now constantly telling them not to do that."
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Old 01-15-2011, 04:40 PM   #25
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1. it doesn't surprise me that the "Chinese" mothering worked better with the oldest child, since oldest children likely identify more strongly with their parents than do younger ones, as a result of birth order.

2. it also does make sense that "Chinese" mothering is going to be both more and less successful in the "west" because, obviously, their children aren't Chinese, aren't living in China, and grow up in a culture that has different values.
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Old 01-15-2011, 04:57 PM   #26
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Old 01-15-2011, 09:49 PM   #27
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you may be on to something



This is a topic to which I probably won't devote a lot of my time.

But, I did hear a segment on NPR today with her about this.

Here it is.

A Memoir Of A 'Tiger Mother's' Quest For Perfection : NPR
I heard that same segment.
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Old 01-15-2011, 11:02 PM   #28
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Amy Chua Responds to Readers on Chinese Parenting - Ideas Market - WSJ

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On Saturday, Review ran an excerpt from Amy Chua’s new book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.” The article, titled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” attracted a lot of attention, generating more than 4,000 comments on wsj.com and around 100,000 comments on Facebook. Below, Ms. Chua answers questions from Journal readers who wrote in to the Ideas Market blog.

Do you think that strict, “Eastern” parenting eventually helps children lead happy lives as adults?


Erin Patrice O’Brien for The Wall Street Journal
Amy Chua with her daughters, Sophia and Louisa.
When it works well, absolutely! And by working well, I mean when high expectations are coupled with love, understanding and parental involvement. This is the gift my parents gave me, and what I hope I’m giving my daughters. I’ve also taught law students of all backgrounds for 17 years, and I’ve met countless students raised the “tough immigrant” way (by parents from Pakistan, India, Nigeria, Korea, Jamaica, Haiti, Iran, Ireland, etc.) who are thriving, independent, bold, creative, hilarious and, at least to my eyes, as happy as anyone. But I also know of people raised with “tough love” who are not happy and who resent their parents. There is no easy formula for parenting, no right approach (I don’t believe, by the way, that Chinese parenting is superior—a splashy headline, but I didn’t choose it). The best rule of thumb I can think of is that love, compassion and knowing your child have to come first, whatever culture you’re from. It doesn’t come through in the excerpt, but my actual book is not a how-to guide; it’s a memoir, the story of our family’s journey in two cultures, and my own eventual transformation as a mother. Much of the book is about my decision to retreat from the strict “Chinese” approach, after my younger daughter rebelled at 13.

I have a 20-month-old, and my husband and I both enjoyed the article. How can you apply this to toddlers?

We didn’t actually do anything that different when my daughters were toddlers, just the same kinds of things that you probably do already: read picture books with them, took them for strolls and to the playground, did puzzles with them, sang songs about ABCs and numbers and mainly snuggled with and hugged them! Maybe the only thing different I did is that I always had a babysitter or student speaking in Mandarin to them every day, for at least four to five hours, including weekends, because I wanted my girls to be bilingual. (I wanted my daughters to learn from native Mandarin speakers, because my own native Chinese dialect is Fujianese [Hokkien], and my Mandarin accent is terrible.)

Your method may work with children with a native high IQ—but demanding that kind of excellence from less intelligent children seems unfair and a fool’s errand. Demanding hard work and a great effort from children is the best middle ground we can reach philosophically, isn’t it? Your thoughts?

Jokes about A+s and gold medals aside (much of my book is tongue-in-cheek, making fun of myself), I don’t believe that grades or achievement is ultimately what Chinese parenting (at least as I practice it) is really about. I think it’s about helping your children be the best they can be—which is usually better than they think! It’s about believing in your child more than anyone else—even more than they believe in themselves. And this principle can be applied to any child, of any level of ability. My youngest sister, Cindy, has Down syndrome, and I remember my mother spending hours and hours with her, teaching her to tie her shoelaces on her own, drilling multiplication tables with Cindy, practicing piano every day with her. No one expected Cindy to get a PhD! But my mom wanted her to be the best she could be, within her limits. Today, my sister works at Wal-Mart, has a boyfriend and still plays piano—one of her favorite things is performing for her friends. She and my mom have a wonderful relationship, and we all love her for who she is.

Ms. Chua, are you a happy adult? Do you look back on your childhood and feel that it was happy? Do you remember laughing with your parents? Do you wish that you could have taken ballet or been in the high school musical?

I was raised by extremely strict—but also extremely loving—Chinese immigrant parents, and I had the most wonderful childhood! I remember laughing constantly with my parents—my dad is a real character and very funny. I certainly did wish they allowed to me do more things! I remember often thinking, “Why is it such a big deal for me to go to a school dance,” or “Why can’t I go on the school ski trip?” But on the other hand, I had great times with my family (and even today, it’s one of my favorite things to vacation with my parents and sisters). As I write in my book, “When my friends hear stories about when I was little, they often imagine that I had a horrible childhood. But that’s not true at all; I found strength and confidence in my peculiar family. We started off as outsiders together, and we discovered America together, becoming Americans in the process. I remember my father working until three in the morning every night, so driven he wouldn’t even notice us entering the room. But I also remember how excited he was introducing us to tacos, sloppy joes, Dairy Queen and eat-all-you-can buffets, not to mention sledding, skiing, crabbing and camping. I remember a boy in grade school making slanty-eyed gestures at me, guffawing as he mimicked the way I pronounced “restaurant” (rest-OW-rant)—I vowed at that moment to rid myself of my Chinese accent. But I also remember Girl Scouts and hula hoops; poetry contests and public libraries; winning a Daughters of the American Revolution essay contest; and the proud, momentous day my parents were naturalized.”

And yes, I am a happy adult. I am definitely a Type A personality, always rushing around, trying to do too much, not good at just lying on the beach. But I’m so thankful for everything I have: wonderfully supportive parents and sisters, the best husband in the world, terrific students I love teaching and hanging out with, and above all, my two amazing daughters.

What is your relationship with your daughters like now?

I have a wonderful relationship with my daughters, which I wouldn’t trade for the world. I certainly made mistakes and have regrets—my book is a kind of coming-of-age book (for the mom!), and the person at the beginning of the book, whose voice is reflected in the Journal excerpt, is not exactly the same person at the end of book. In a nutshell, I get my comeuppance; much of the book is about my decision to retreat (but only partially) from the strict immigrant model. Having said that, if I had to do it all over, I would do basically the same thing, with some adjustments. I’m not saying it’s for everyone, and I’m not saying it’s a better approach. But I’m very proud of my daughters. It’s not just that they’ve done well in school; they are both kind, generous, independent girls with big personalities. Most important, I feel I’m very close with both of them, knock on wood.

Read more on the controversy over Chinese mothers this Saturday in Review.
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Old 01-16-2011, 11:20 AM   #29
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^Yeah, sounds like the WSJ article was not the full picture by any stretch.
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Old 01-17-2011, 11:26 AM   #30
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And there are parents who wonder why their children need therapy when they've reached adult age...
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