Have any of you paid attention to the recent article "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior?" That was the headline of a Wall Street Journal essay excerpted from Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, the new book from Amy Chua. Battle Hymn is a memoir on Chua's experiences as a mother describing a very strict and rigid style of parenting. I must admit as I was raising my kids I wondered how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. It seemed as if there wasn’t a dumb one in the bunch They were all either math whizzes or Suzuki prodigies winning every honor at the high school awards ceremony. After reading this article and doing a bit of research, I feel I need to blog about my findings so none of you are led to believe this might be a better way to raise children.
First, I respect that Chinese parents give everything to their children and also many of their values such as a strong work ethic. I believe all good parents, Western and Eastern believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they're capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away. What I disapprove of are the methods suggested in this article used to make children successful. Amy Chua never allowed her daughters to:
attend a sleepover
have a play date
be in a school play
complain about not being in a school play
watch TV or play computer games
choose their own extracurricular activities
get any grade less than an A
not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
play any instrument other than the piano or violin
not play the piano or violin.
Western parents might believe they are being strict, they are nowhere close to Chinese mothers. They believe nothing is fun until your good at it. Practicing the piano every day for 30 minutes is what Western parents do. Eastern moms believe 2-3 hours is a must. I could continue with more examples, but this blog would be too long. I have included the link to this article if you would like to read it.
One of the reasons we live in the Western World is for our freedoms. What are we doing as parents if we take those choices away from our children? Sure our kids may not always be number one in their class. They may even fail on occasion. I happen to believe that some of the most important lessons I learned in life came from my failures.
As many of you know from reading ParentFix and this blog, I believe it is important for children to find their passions. They need to learn how to socialize with other kids. I also believe it is important for your child to try a variety of talents, not be dictated too, or forced, even belittled by their parents (calling them “fat” or “lazy”) when they fail. Not every child has the ability to get straight “A’s” . When did getting a “B” become such a bad thing?
I must admit you will find success stories with this kind of parenting. But I believe if we could track the data, there is more negative that comes from too much pressure put upon a child. There is one fact that must not be overlooked. The suicide rates for Asians are much higher, in some areas of the U.S. as much as 50 %.
The reason I chose this topic is because I would ask you to reevaluate your goals as parents. What is more important for your child? A high level of success or happiness?