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WSJ: Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior

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WSJ: Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior

Postby momopi » Sat Jan 08, 2011 6:49 am ... TopStories

* JANUARY 8, 2011

Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior
Can a regimen of no playdates, no TV, no computer games and hours of music practice create happy kids? And what happens when they fight back?


Click on URL above to read full article

I recommend reading the comments section as well. There's some very good commentary from Indian readers.
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Postby Kunold » Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:00 am

Too many western parents try to be friends rather than parents
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Postby Mr S » Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:14 am

God, what a bitch! IF i was married to something like her it wouldn't last long cause I don't go for that type of child raising, it f***s you up as an adult. You need to go more of a middle way taking a little from both sides. There's only a small minority of kids that can succeed in that type of environment without having some kind of mental issues as an adult.

If a majority of NE Asian women are like that after you marry them and have kids I'll stay happily single thank you very much, We all know who has to wear the pants in that family! I would never let a women like that boss me or my kids around like that unless it was for good reason. I can't stand control freaks. My mother was like that and I don't have a good relationship with her. I remember growing up afraid of getting beaten if I did something wrong. I think only some kinds of personalities can come out of being denigrated as a child stronger, most will have some kind of psychological problems to overcome. I know I had to re-educate myself once I became an adult, my mother f***ed me up!

I'm not a genius at any one thing but I think I've turned out reasonably okay considering my negative childhood circumstances.
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher, 121-180 A.D.
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Here's a Western, Jewish Mothers Reply...

Postby Mr S » Sun Jan 16, 2011 3:33 pm ... stpop_read

In Defense of the Guilty, Ambivalent, Preoccupied Western Mom
Ayelet Waldman on the virtues of letting kids quit, have sleepovers and find their own way.


Here are some of the things that my four children of a Jewish mother were always allowed to do:

• Quit the piano and the violin, especially if their defeatist attitude coincided with a recital, thus saving me from the torture of listening to other people's precious children soldier through hackneyed pieces of the juvenile repertoire, plink after ever more unbearable plonk.

• Sleep over at their friends' houses, especially on New Year's Eve or our anniversary, thus saving us the cost of a babysitter.

• Play on the computer and surf the Internet, so long as they paid for their Neopet Usuki dolls and World of Warcraft abomination cleavers out of their own allowances.

• Participate in any extracurricular activity they wanted, so long as I was never required to drive farther than 10 minutes to get them there, or to sit on a field in a folding chair in anything but the balmiest weather for any longer than 60 minutes.

• Quit said extracurricular activities, especially if their quitting coincided with league finals that might have demanded participation on my part exceeding the requirements stated above.

In the days since this newspaper published Amy Chua's simultaneously entertaining and infuriating excerpt from her new book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," my two elder children, 16 and 13, have devoted a remarkable amount of time to raging against the essay and crafting compelling and bombastic rebuttals to be delivered to Ms. Chua herself, should they ever encounter her.


Why Chinese Mothers are Superior
The Tiger Mother Talks Back
Readers Roar: What Makes a Good Parent
Speakeasy: Confessions of An Ex-Tiger Cub
Chinese Mothers in Hong Kong React
Chinese Mothers, Taiwanese Animation
Lighten Up, Roam Free
Scene Asia: Chinese Mothers React
I am more than a little astonished. I say with confidence that neither of my children has ever before bothered to read a single word of The Wall Street Journal. I don't think that I could have screamed or threatened them into doing so, not even if I'd tossed them outside in the middle of winter, to cower barefoot and freezing on the front step. So to Ms. Chua I express my gratitude. It seems to take a Chinese mother to force my Western kids to read the paper.

Were I crafting my own bombastic and compelling rebuttal to Ms. Chua, I might point out, as others have, that Asian-American girls aged 15 to 24 have above average rates of suicide. I might question the hubris of taking credit for success that is as likely to have resulted from the genetic blessings of musicality and intellect as from the "Chinese" child-rearing techniques of shrieking and name calling. But I have a feeling that she knows that.

More importantly, if I did write such a rebuttal, I'd risk being called a hypocrite by my own children. Sophie, my oldest, would remind me of the recent evening when I stared in stony silence at her report card, sniffing derisively at her father's happy congratulations.

"What?" she said. "I got 5 solid As."

I shrugged.

"Ayelet," my husband warned.

My daughter narrowed her eyes at me. She knew what was coming.

I pointed at the remaining two grades, neither a solid A. Though there was not the "screaming, hair-tearing explosion" that Ms. Chua informs us would have greeted the daughter of a Chinese mother, I expressed my disappointment quite clearly. And though the word "garbage" was not uttered, either in the Hokkien dialect or in Yiddish, it was only because I feared my husband's opprobrium that I refrained from telling my daughter, when she collapsed in tears, that she was acting like an idiot.

The difference between Ms. Chua and me, I suppose—between proud Chinese mothers and ambivalent Western ones—is that I felt guilty about having berated my daughter for failing to deliver the report card I expected. I was ashamed at my reaction. But here is another difference, one I'll admit despite being ashamed of it, too: I did not then go out and get hundreds of practice tests and work through them with my daughter far into the night, doing whatever it took to get her the A. I fobbed that task off on a tutor, something I can afford to do because my children reside in the same privileged world as Ms. Chua's.

I am, actually, grateful to Ms. Chua, and a little in awe of her. I expend far too much of my maternal energies on guilt and regret. Reading her essay definitely put some Chinese iron into my Nerf Western spine, and though I eventually apologized to my daughter for failing to acknowledge, right off the bat, all those tough classes in which she had excelled last semester, and for expressing my disappointment at the others too vigorously, I have also refused to back down from my expectation that she devote extra time to those two subjects in which she is "underperforming."

In her book, Ms. Chua tells a story of coercion that resulted in a certain kind of success with one of her daughters. Let me tell another kind of story. My Rosie is mildly dyslexic. By the time she was diagnosed, in second grade, she was lagging far behind her classmates. For years I forced her to spell words in the bathtub with foam letters, to do worksheets, to memorize phonemes and take practice tests. My hectoring succeeded only in making her miserable. Eventually, and totally out of character, she had even stopped loving school. She suffered from near-constant stomachaches and broke down in tears almost every day. At last we heard about a special intensive reading program that required students to spend four hours every day in a small room with an instructor, being drilled in letters, sight words and phonics. It sounded awful, but Rosie insisted on doing it. She loved books and stories. She wanted to read.

Every day when we picked her up, her face would be red with tears, her eyes hollow and exhausted. Every day we asked her if she wanted to quit. We begged her to quit. Neither her father nor I could stand the sight of her misery, her despair, the pain, psychic and physical, she seemed far too young to bear. But every day she refused. Every morning she rose stoically from her bed, collected her stuffies and snacks and the other talismans that she needed to make it through the hours, and trudged off, her little shoulders bent under a weight I longed to lift. Rosie has an incantation she murmurs when she's scared, when she's stuck at the top of a high jungle gym or about to present a current events report to her class. "Overcome your fears," she whispers to herself. I don't know where she learned it. Maybe from one of those television shows I shouldn't let her watch.

At the end of a grim and brutal month, Rosie learned to read. Not because we forced her to drill and practice and repeat, not because we dragged her kicking and screaming, or denied her food, or kept her from the using the bathroom, but because she forced herself. She climbed the mountain alone, motivated not by fear or shame of dishonoring her parents but by her passionate desire to read. She did it herself, without us, and it is no exaggeration to say that we were and remain stunned with pride. What's more, she came out of the experience with a sense of herself as a powerful, tenacious person, one who is so proud of having succeeded despite her dyslexia—"like Alexander Graham Bell, Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein," as she likes to say—that during her school's "Care Week," on her own initiative, she gave presentations to her classmates and to groups of other students about living with dyslexia.

I have a feeling that had one of Amy Chua's daughters suffered from a learning disability like Rosie's, Ms. Chua would have channeled her admirable perseverance into finding a solution that worked for her child. She would have been just as dogged and determined, but in an entirely different way. Roaring like a tiger turns some children into pianists who debut at Carnegie Hall but only crushes others. Coddling gives some the excuse to fail and others the chance to succeed. Amy Chua and I both understand that our job as mothers is to be the type of tigress that each of our different cubs needs.

—Ms. Waldman is the author of "Bad Mother" and the novel "Red Hook Road."
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher, 121-180 A.D.
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Postby Enishi » Sun Jan 16, 2011 5:08 pm

The area in which the Chinese mother is better than many western ones is that she is firm and consistent, as opposed to a western parent who tries to be your friend, flip flops all the time on freedom vs rules and acts passive aggressive to try to get you to do what she wants.

Other than that though, that woman is a total bitch. I doubt that using such a method to raise a western kid with a more lively, individualist western mindset would work either. The parent would either end up disowned at best, or knifed in their sleep at worst, lol.
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Postby momopi » Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:21 am

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Postby momopi » Fri Feb 04, 2011 3:02 pm

This commentary was written by a Caucasian women married to a Chinese (Cantonese from HK) husband in the US:

While I agree with the lions share of Ms Chuas article, I found the last paragraph to be condescending and blatantly subjective.

This method of parenting is exacted at a price. The price is socially awkward, emotionally unavailable, kids who are more automatons than children. Kids who have no idea how to cope with conflict, failure and disappointment. All of these things are part of "life".

Most of the Asian kids I know fit within the stereotype she defines. Their mothers have the same "Dragon Lady" mentality, and nearly all of the kids lack the common sense to be able to cross the street by themselves without getting hit by a car.

While their mothers are busy protecting them, they are also hindering the child from becoming a fully functioning adult. While the kids are getting straight A's, mastering the piano and/or violin and taking all AP classes, once they get to college they are lost without their mother to do their laundry, cook their food, balance their bank accounts, deal with their class schedules or wipe own their backsides. They have no idea how to cope with social situations, networking, dating, being in charge of their own schedules and finances. .

While I agree with a lot of what she has to say, I believe that anyone who really wants to "protect" their child also wants to raise them to be productive, successful, well adjusted adults, and its the parents responsibility to prepare said child for as much of real life as is possible.

"The worth of a person is not defined by how many times one fails. Its how many times they fail, and get back up to try again.


This was her husband's comment:

"It is really hard for Westerners to understand that all Chinese mothers are like this stereotype and there should be exceptions. Of all the Chinese mothers I have met they are similar to the examples cited in WSJ.

Chinese are very similar and seldom deviate from the standard. The fusion with other cultures for the first time we will see the method of iron fist teaching is being challenged by the children's generation.

During the 60's -early 80's Chinese parents didn't have to purchase family home in the elite school districts. Their shaming of children made them top students regardless of the school's standards. These children are parents now and are much soft hearted than the hardcore foreign born mothers. Rather than being the tyrant of the family they rely on students' peer pressure of an elite school to influence their children to excel.

In Cupertino a city of 50% Chinese all local high schools implemented suicide prevention programs. The local school psychologists are aware that some Cupertino students committed suicide in college when they could not cope with disappointments. "

"Asian parents have well intention to provide the very best for their children. The extremes are not always to best it it strip away an important part of children's childhood. Parents may think the children may get those thing back when children become adult but they are wrong. Things like listening to cricket sound in the yard while playing with flash light in the tent or sliding down the banister getting injured are all a part of growing up in making memories are just important as AP classes and APi scores.

It does not require the safest city or the best school district to raise a happy child. One is not depriving of their child if he can't afford to provide that without burdening the family finance to suit one's ego."


Comment from other readers:

Chinese have four categories of occupations in descending order of prestige: (1) gentry and scholars, (2) peasants and farmers, (3) artisans and craftsmen, and (4) merchants and traders. While Ms Chua was a lawyer, she is currently a Yale professor, that means she is a scholar, the highest Chinese professional level.

Ms. Chua is a actually a Filipina American. The Chinese Filipinos ancestors came from Fujian province in China and despite being in the Philippines for generations, they still speak hokkien (a/k/a Taiwanese) and are the elite of the Philippines so that may explain some of her elitist views. Phillipines ex-President Ferdinand Marcos' biological father was a Philippine judge of Chinese descent who also happened to be named Chua. Corazon Aquino was also of Chinese descent who in a state visit to China stopped by her ancestral village in Fujian province to bow to her ancestors.


Rules, order, protocol, procedure, repetition, memorization, and practice are the guiding principle of Chau's method. So what are the professions that abide by these rules: doctor, lawyer, engineer, and accountant are careers chosen by Chinese. the places which they reside also must be the same designed by template following strict formula resulted in eternal repetition.

I think white guys with yellow fever like these qualities in Chinese women: loyalty, submission and obeying commands.


Is that a joke? Loyalty, yes. Submission and obeying commands? Uh, maybe you better go back and review your protégé RC's dragon posts. Maybe that's true of some Asian cultures, I suppose --- but probably the more underdeveloped countries (Thailand, PI, etc.) Certainly not Chinese or even Korean or Japanese. If you are looking to stereotype, the opposite is probably more true with respect to who in the relationship is doing the submitting and obeying commands.

For anyone with post-WWII images in your minds of American GI's and Asian women, I suggest you wake up to the fact it is now the 21st Century. Chinese, Korean, and Japanese women in the US are every bit the equal of the so called yellow fever dudes in every socioeconomic category. They don't need us. Many days, I wonder what the heck my wife is doing with me. Other than the fact I am just so damn HAWT.

Seriously, though. I obviously know more than a few guys married to ABC, ABK, and ABJ girls. There is a HUGE difference between those relationships and these creepers who like to *vacation* in places like Thailand and PI. That's sick. Don't try to lump anything you might see around OC into that grouping. It's not the same.


lets leave the Yum Yum girls out of our discussion.

It is the Chinese women secret to have all of the above facets during dating. Once you take the bait and the hook is secured the real hidden dragon and crouchong tiger come out. Slowly they gain control and wear the pants in the family.


It find it lovely that you guys discuss all things Asian. However you forget that the only truly submissive women are actually Russian women.


I really don't understand the Western mamas. You are here for so long and have all the opportunity.

Why don't you make an effort and teach your kids? How come Immigrant kids are better in school than yours?

It's not the teachers fault, not your kid's fault, it's yours.

Get off your fat ass and take care of your kids.

And take care of yourself so your hubbies don't hit on the Asian moms. They all do.

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Postby momopi » Fri Feb 04, 2011 3:23 pm

Oh and if you think Asian kids are well behaved in school...

This is what happens when they get really pissed off at someone in class: ... asian-kid/
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Postby odbo » Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:16 am

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