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Are Chinese moms better than American moms? Weigh in after reading this article! - Page 2  

post #21 of 40

Although, I will say, from what I am seeing, most parents seem to spoil their children and expect little of them. At least where I live, that is what I see. There is a middle ground and the middle ground is what I think is best.

post #22 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by thelocaldialect View Post

While some parenting "methods" Chua talks about in her article are considered acceptable in traditional Chinese culture (shaming, criticism, name calling, harsh punishment), this woman is not a "Chinese" mother, she's a Chinese-American mother, and she shouldn't fool herself as to just how American her children actually are. For one, they are much more privileged than the average Chinese child. Chua is a Yale professor and both of her parents, while immigrants, came over here as academics. She gives far too much credit for her children's success to her strict parenting methods and not nearly enough to the culture, educational system, and privilege that her children enjoyed growing up in America. Of course not all Chinese children can be number one, that's just ridiculous, obviously. Nor, do I think, most of the parents here expect them to be. Parenting is pretty cultural -- Chinese parents parent the way they do because that's how they were raised, not because ALL Chinese mothers accept nothing but excellence from their children.

 

As for whether or not this sort of parenting is effective, I teach high school here and plenty of my Chinese students are what she would call "losers" and all of the name calling in the world does not make them any better at Chemistry or English, nor will it get them into Yale or Harvard. What happens when those students are called names or shamed is that they just give up completely. I have kids who turn in blank exams, they just don't even try!

 

I should also say that while there's a lot wrong with some of the parenting I see here in China, not all Chinese parents are like Chua. I see lots of loving families here, lots of parents who do try to treat their children with respect, who practice gentle parenting. If you look at the companion article also posted on the WSJ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059720804985228.html  , you'll see that in modern China a lot of parents are turning away from traditional parenting and adopting more gentler, child-centered approach.


Thanks for posting this localdialect.  I think it is important to remember that while some cultural practices may be implemented by some, it bugs me that this is being referred to as "Chinese" parenting.  The article didn't do anyone any service. 

post #23 of 40

I don't understand what's wrong with being in a school play, choosing one's own extracurricular activities, or playing an instrument other than violin or piano.  Never mind that there are no playdates or sleepovers. 

 

Although there is something to be said for fostering ability to stick with something even when it gets challenging, why do they have no choice in what that pursuit can be? 

post #24 of 40

Children are people, not machines. That whole article seemed down right abusive to me. I pity those children.

post #25 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigeresse View Post

I don't understand what's wrong with being in a school play, choosing one's own extracurricular activities, or playing an instrument other than violin or piano.  Never mind that there are no playdates or sleepovers. 

 

Although there is something to be said for fostering ability to stick with something even when it gets challenging, why do they have no choice in what that pursuit can be? 


I think the point was that "asian children aren't in school plays, because asian mothers don't allow them to be".

 

TBH, the article made me smile a bit-- it must be tounge in cheek, it just has to be. I wonder what the context of the book was.

post #26 of 40

I was kind of expecting it to be from The Onion.

post #27 of 40

I haven't quite decided how I feel about this author's POV.  I am inclined to say a dose of everything in moderation.  That there are some good points but obviously this is an extreme case.  I found it food for thought and discussion rather than digusting or repulsive. 

 

But I do have to point that it is a myth that most adults who were very advanced as children and have excelled academically, professionally, and often financially, are unhappy.  There have been many surveys done about this and the majority are happy, well-adjusted adults.  And this is where I would have to agree with the author that this myth clearly comes out of Western culture and I think it does give people an excuse to not push their children.  It goes along with the anti-intellectualism and "don't be too smart or you're a nerd or an elitist" sort of wave that we have been seeing in recent times. 

 

I also think you will find that more people (not all but the majority) will say that they wish they were pushed harder rather then pushed less. 

 

There is one flaw in her particular case though in that it sounds like the father is of the Western mindset.  Therefore, maybe it is the combination and not exclusively the Chinese mothering that is at work in their family. 

 

Lastly, I do think there is actually some overlap here with Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting in that the desired effect is for the child to gain their own inner confidence that is not supplied by anyone else.  She touches on the praise problem too.  Where gushing praise can be harmful and actually undermine self-esteem instead of build it up. 

 

Also has anyone read Joy Luck Club?  I think it touches on this same Chinese mothering culture and the newer generations in America.  I started the book years ago but never finished.  Makes me want to go back and read it.  They made a movie out of it too. 

post #28 of 40

I've been following this article and response blogs and was wondering when this would make it to Mothering. I thought I'd find it under Multicultural Families first as a year ago there was a very interesting discussion on this very topic about growing up with this style of Chinese parenting.

 

http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/1175144/if-you-had-asian-parents-did-your-upbringing-help-you-get-ahead-in-life

 

My personal experience with and observation of this style of Chinese parenting is that it often borders on or becomes full blown abuse. When I read Amy Chua's article I was disgusted and a little sick to my stomach, but I understood because Amy was most likely brought up this way. I wonder what Amy's relationship is like with her own parents. While I believe in being honest, direct and straight forward with kids, cruelty (and that was what Amy displayed in her parenting style) really has no place.

 

The end result of this type of parenting?

 

My very successful cousin recently unleashed 40 years of anger at my very bewildered Aunt on Thanksgiving and they both called me during the fallout because they wanted me to confirm if some of the incidents he claimed that happened were really true...unfortunately they were. My Aunt basically whitewashed all the emotional (and occasionally physical) abuse he endured from both parents because all she saw was that she did her job: her son is successful and he owes it all to her.

 

My Aunt can and does go about proudly bragging to all her friends at how incredibly successful my cousin is at her mah jong get togethers. In the very same breath she also curses him calling him ungrateful, a worthless son, and that she "bai yang" literally she wasted nurturing on him because he rarely wants to do anything with her and is not the dutiful son that he should be. In private I know she is lonely, heartbroken, and confused at what went wrong with their relationship when he is so successful.

 

I remember my father often quoting this Chinese saying to me when it came to discipline, "I yell at you because I care and I beat you because I love you" 

post #29 of 40

There's so much going on in that article that I'm not even sure where to begin.  The gross stereotyping of both western and Chinese mothers, the idea that success as defined by good grades, artistic achievement etc is the goal of good parenting, the very off-putting self-righteous tone the author uses, etc.

 

One thing that struck me was the author's proud use of name-calling and shaming to manipulate her kids.  I grew up in a strict conservative Christian home.  There were many things our peers were allowed to do that my siblings and I weren't (dating before 16, no video games in the house restricted TV/movies etc)  My parents had high expectations in regards to grades and expected diligence in extra-curricular activities.  They valued and taught us to value hard work, tenacity, and achievement just as Chua brags she taught her kids.  But they did it all without name calling or shaming.  My parents NEVER called me lazy, worthless, garbage or any ting even close to that.  Now if I was being lazy, they were honest and told me so.  But there's a huge difference between, "you're being lazy in this situation. You're not a lazy person, change your behavior." and "You're lazy garbage!"  

 

I have never once doubted that my parents love me and think I'm a good, valuable person. I know, because they've communicated it to me in words and actions since infancy, that I am a blessing in their lives and that they consider my siblings and myself the best things to have come out of their lives.  My siblings and I are all successful in terms of career or education, but we are also confident that nothing, absolutely nothing we could do would cause our parents not to love us.  We could disappoint them, hurt or anger them, break their hearts and turn our backs on everything the ever taught us, but we could never lose their love. I wonder if Chua's kids could say the same.


Edited by KristyDi - 1/11/11 at 10:21am
post #30 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by pokeyrin View Post


I remember my father often quoting this Chinese saying to me when it came to discipline, "I yell at you because I care and I beat you because I love you" 



How is your relationship with your father, if you don't mind me asking. That sounds like a pretty scary quote.

post #31 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by texmati View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigeresse View Post

I don't understand what's wrong with being in a school play, choosing one's own extracurricular activities, or playing an instrument other than violin or piano.  Never mind that there are no playdates or sleepovers. 

 

Although there is something to be said for fostering ability to stick with something even when it gets challenging, why do they have no choice in what that pursuit can be? 


I think the point was that "asian children aren't in school plays, because asian mothers don't allow them to be".

 

 


I actually thought that part was that a Chinese mother wouldn't let her kid unilaterally decide to do a time consuming activity that required the mom to do a ton of work. Like she was saying American mothers would just go "oh of course honey, whatever you need" and sew into the night and drop everything to drive their little spoiled darling here and there.

post #32 of 40

This lady reminds me so much of the moms in "Toddlers in Tiaras--" women who put their young daughters in beauty pageants.  They push, yell, demand perfection, and are generally ruthless and relentless.  The girls cry, complain, but in the end, beam on stage and look happy.  It's weird!

 

Asian students do perform better academically in the country than any other groups (in fact when i read articles about black lagging behind whites academically, I often wonder why the articles aren't about EVERYONE lagging behind asians)!  So an approach like this clearly does yield academic results.

 

I am a laid back mom because I simply lack the energy, organization or motivation to drill and push my kids.  I've also found that even when I let go, they still learn.  I limit TV and video games to a degree but other than that, they are left to their own devices.  People are always impressed with how smart, polite, well spoke my kids are.  Some of the greatest geniuses in history were self motivated and self taught.  I just don't see the point of drilling my kids at the expense of harming my relationship with them.

post #33 of 40

Y'know, I wonder how things would've gone if the article were written by a success-oriented Chinese-American mother of a boy?

post #34 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by frugalmum View Post

This lady reminds me so much of the moms in "Toddlers in Tiaras--" women who put their young daughters in beauty pageants.  They push, yell, demand perfection, and are generally ruthless and relentless.  The girls cry, complain, but in the end, beam on stage and look happy.  It's weird!

 

Asian students do perform better academically in the country than any other groups (in fact when i read articles about black lagging behind whites academically, I often wonder why the articles aren't about EVERYONE lagging behind asians)!  So an approach like this clearly does yield academic results.

 

I am a laid back mom because I simply lack the energy, organization or motivation to drill and push my kids.  I've also found that even when I let go, they still learn.  I limit TV and video games to a degree but other than that, they are left to their own devices.  People are always impressed with how smart, polite, well spoke my kids are.  Some of the greatest geniuses in history were self motivated and self taught.  I just don't see the point of drilling my kids at the expense of harming my relationship with them.


 

A few things...

 

First, to the bold part, I think that there is a also a different mentality in families of immigrants vs those who have already assimilated. Education may be more highly prized, and communities become very tight knit when there are only a handful of people in a new location that share a common language etc. I live in north Texas, and my parents came here in the late 70's. Although the Indian population is booming now, there was a time when my grandparents would know nearly every other Gujarati family, and, of course, what exactly there kids were studying to be.

 

I grew up in a very loving south Asian home and nobody made me play a song right before they would let me pee. But education was always extremely important, and there was this idea that it was your job and duty to do well in school. 'Let kids be kids' ends around the time you are 4 and 5. After that, you need to be studying! I joked with my brother and sister the last time they were here, that as much as I resisted when I was younger; I am going to have similar expectations for my son going forward.

post #35 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

Y'know, I wonder how things would've gone if the article were written by a success-oriented Chinese-American mother of a boy?



Why would it be different? I think the expectations are similar for boys as well, right?

post #36 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post


I actually thought that part was that a Chinese mother wouldn't let her kid unilaterally decide to do a time consuming activity that required the mom to do a ton of work. Like she was saying American mothers would just go "oh of course honey, whatever you need" and sew into the night and drop everything to drive their little spoiled darling here and there.



I might have had that vibe, too, if it hadn't been for the stuff about having to play piano or violin, and not being allowed to play any other musical instrument.

 

I'm still processing the article. I do think there are some points about spoiled, entitled Western (white, usually) children and over-indulgent parents, but...I keep thinking about ds1 (as he's more of a "finished product" than the younger ones). He wants to be an actor. He lives and breathes performing, in various ways. He's been in the gifted program since grade three, but his worst subject i math. His reports cards are fine with me - mostly As, a few Bs, and a very occasional C (usually in something he doesn't care about, and neither do I - such as "Planning"). But, I feel that I'd have done him a major dis-service if I'd pushed academics harder than I did. He's a multi-talented person, with gifts in many, many areas. If I'd decided at an early age that he was to play violin and not do drama, I'd have squashed him. As it is, he plays guitar...and I wouldn't dream of taking it away from him, because it's one of the few things he has as a bond to his dad (who has been largely absent for 10 years). He juggles. He acts. He sketches. He's involved in the Interact (service) Club at school. He sings. He does gymnastics, and plays Ultimate. Some of these are things he "just" really enjoys. A few of them - the acting, gymastics, and to some degree, the sketching - are things he's truly, deeply passionate about. I can't imagine deciding, on his behalf, that such-and-such is more important than one of those things. He has genuine, powerful gifts in these areas, and stomping them so that he could succeed at something I wanted him to do would be...wrong. It would just be wrong. We've pushed him a little, here and there, but more in a "don't give up" sense than a "you do what we want" sense.

 

I wasn't like ds1. I still don't have a passion. (Most members of my family of origin lack a real passion in life...we're passionate people, but it's not focused.) I excelled in school in the early grades, and went right off the skids about the time I hit puberty. Pushing me wouldn't have accomplished squat - in fact, it didn't, when my mom tried it - because my issues weren't about laziness or whatever. I had major mental health issues (mostly serious depression, but also social anxieties) and was also being bullied. If my mom had dealt with me the way Amy Chua describes dealing with her kids, I'd have suicided...my family of origin were the only thing that kept me holding on at all.

 

I don't know. It's possible that the "Chinese mom" approach from the article will work, even long-term, with her daughters, but that doesn't mean it will work with everybody, yk?

post #37 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoonJelly View Post

But I do have to point that it is a myth that most adults who were very advanced as children and have excelled academically, professionally, and often financially, are unhappy.  There have been many surveys done about this and the majority are happy, well-adjusted adults.  And this is where I would have to agree with the author that this myth clearly comes out of Western culture and I think it does give people an excuse to not push their children.  It goes along with the anti-intellectualism and "don't be too smart or you're a nerd or an elitist" sort of wave that we have been seeing in recent times. .



I have no problem with intelligence, intellectual pursuits or "nerds", "geeks", etc. I enjoyed being a "brain" in school, and have no issue with being called a nerd or geek (although, according to some website I checked out a couple of years ago, I'm not technically either). I also fail to understand any objection to someone pursuing excellence.

 

However, "adults who were very advanced as children and have excelled academically, professionally and often financially" isn't the group we're talking about. We're talking about the subset of that group who were/are all those things, because it is/was required by someone else. I've only known a few families (none of them Asian, fwiw) that have pushed their kids that hard and that blindly...and it hasn't gone well with any of them. I happen to also know a woman who was required to practice piano much as the girl in the article - not allowed to get up until the piece was perfect. She did eventually nail it. She hasn't touched a piano, and won't ever again, in over 40 years. Excellence is wonderful - but I'd rather have my child be a good piano player, who enjoys playing, than a "perfect" one who won't touch a keyboard.

post #38 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by geekgolightly View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by pokeyrin View Post


I remember my father often quoting this Chinese saying to me when it came to discipline, "I yell at you because I care and I beat you because I love you" 



How is your relationship with your father, if you don't mind me asking. That sounds like a pretty scary quote.

 

My relationship with my father is non-existent, we talk maybe once a year if that.

 

However my parents are not a good example of Chinese parents pushing for academic excellence. I was pushed but in an entirely different way then my Chinese peers, but the ideal behind the pushiness is essentially the same.

 

Parenting in the Chinese culture is not the selfless sacrifice that Amy Chua trys to portray, the motive is entirely self-serving as children are insurance for old age. "Xiao" (filial piety or the idea of taking care of your parents) is one of the most important ideals in Chinese culture the parenting styles stem from this idea of "xiao".

 

My mother became schizophrenic when I was aged 2 so the focus for me wasn't so much on education and music as it was for my peers. Instead I was groomed to make sure sure I attained just enough education to earn a decent wage, but not too much education where I would be too busy to be my mother's caretaker. The same aggressive style Amy Chua uses to push her children to academic and musical excellence was the same style used on me to ensure I understood my sole purpose in life was to take care of my sick mother for the rest of her natural life.

 

Don't get me wrong, not all Chinese parents are horrible totalitarians, but I've personally known more who are than not.   

 

As a child I spent a good amount of time living with two sets of Aunts and Uncles and while I experienced the same unyielding push to succeed it was dished out differently. The Aunt that I spoke of in my earlier post used the exact parenting style on my cousin and I that Amy Chua uses on her daughters. My relationship with my Aunt today is a reluctant one. I see her out of duty, not out of affection, love or of a genuine want to spend time with her. My cousin, her son moved across the country to get away from her.

 

My eldest Aunt and Uncle who I also lived with were just as demanding, unyielding, and pushy with high expectations. The difference was they treated their children and myself with respect and I just don't recall them ever saying anything needlessly cruel or harsh. They were tough that's for sure, but they weren't mean. The close relationship they enjoy with their adult children is proof and my memories of them are of genuine fondness unlike my other Aunt which my memories of her are not only deeply painful but the type that required some therapy.

 

The problem with Chinese parents like Amy Chua is they take the ideal of "xiao" and twist it to serve their own purpose and to excuse abusive parenting. The way Amy Chua glorified and bragged about the more abusive aspect of Chinese parenting being superior tells me she'll never get it. 

 

One day Amy Chua's daughters will grow up and like all children who mature into adults they will reflect on their childhood especially if they have their own child. Amy Chua may end up like my one Aunt looking at her "successful" children and wondering why her relationship with them is so strained, why they avoid spending anymore time then is absolutely necessary with her and like my Aunt she may still blame them thinking how ungrateful they are for all she has sacrified for them.

post #39 of 40

The "no instruments other than piano and violin" thing really threw me too. It's not like you can't be INCREDIBLY successful playing the cello, saxophone, flute or guitar... it just seems so arbitrary! I mean, yes, piano is a handy and versatile instrument, and violin has a certain classical snob appeal - but why not harp, or a traditional Chinese instrument, or something? It's not like concert harpists are known to be drooling subhumans who'll never get a husband. :p

 

The trouble with music is that - while it's certainly true that raw talent isn't everything, and practice will get you a long way - there IS a certain "musicality" factor that some kids just don't have. My little sister plays in piano competitions sometimes, and is often nearly the only non-Asian kid there. And most of the Asian kids are good - at least, they play complicated pieces and you can tell they've practiced a lot. But with a few exceptions, the pieces sound mechanical and forced. The really talented kids aren't the ones who play the hardest pieces, but the ones who have a feel for music. My sister's one of them, and she often wins prizes and gets comments from the judges that she "plays musically". I'm not sure you can teach that if it just isn't there. It's a common enough trait that there will never be a shortage of musicians, and it's pretty easy to spot. So a non-naturally-musical kid may practice 6 hours a day for 14 years, but STILL won't succeed in music. So what's the point? Why not let the kid do drama or gym instead - how come they don't "count"?

post #40 of 40

I'm locking this thread because this discussion belongs in the News and Current Events forum.  Please take further discussion of this issue to the thread that is already in that forum.

 

Thank you.

Lisa

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