Here is an excerpt from an article written by Amy Chua that appeared in The Wall Street Journal (January 8, 2011). To read the complete article, please click here.
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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?
A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:
• attend a sleepover
• have a playdate
• 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.
I’m using the term “Chinese mother” loosely. I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers, by choice or otherwise. I’m also using the term “Western parents” loosely. Western parents come in all varieties.
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The Tiger Mother Responds to Readers
Ms. Chua answers questions from Journal readers who wrote in to the Ideas Market blog.
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All the same, even when Western parents think they’re being strict, they usually don’t come close to being Chinese mothers. For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments 30 minutes every day. An hour at most. For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part. It’s hours two and three that get tough.
When it comes to parenting, the Chinese seem to produce children who display academic excellence, musical mastery and professional success – or so the stereotype goes. WSJ’s Christina Tsuei
speaks to two moms raised by Chinese immigrants who share what it was like growing up and how they hope to raise their children.
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More Parenting Videos
Despite our squeamishness about cultural stereotypes, there are tons of studies out there showing marked and quantifiable differences between Chinese and Westerners when it comes to parenting. In one study of 50 Western American mothers and 48 Chinese immigrant mothers, almost 70% of the Western mothers said either that “stressing academic success is not good for children” or that “parents need to foster the idea that learning is fun.” By contrast, roughly 0% of the Chinese mothers felt the same way. Instead, the vast majority of the Chinese mothers said that they believe their children can be “the best” students, that “academic achievement reflects successful parenting,” and that if children did not excel at school then there was “a problem” and parents “were not doing their job.” Other studies indicate that compared to Western parents, Chinese parents spend approximately 10 times as long every day drilling academic activities with their children. By contrast, Western kids are more likely to participate in sports teams.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Amy Chua is a professor at Yale Law School and author of Day of Empire and World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability. This essay is excerpted from Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, to be published Tuesday by the Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.