Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Tiger Mother

Amy Chua's memoir The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, which advocates a strict Chinese parenting style, saw furious artillery fire from those who disagree with her. So should a parent crack the whip or molly coddle to produce a successful, happy child?

An extract in the Wall Street Journal lists the things Amy Chua's daughters Sophia and Louisa were not allowed to do, including attending a sleepover; having a play-date; being in a school play; watching TV or playing a computer game; choosing their own extracurricular activities; getting any grade less than an A; not being the number one student in every subject except gym and drama; playing any instrument except piano and violin; not playing the piano or violin.

If this is something that reflects her personal choice, so be it. But when she publicly makes it known that this is the typical reason why Chinese parents like herself raise successful children, then disapproval sets in. This is stereotyping. And it leads to many people making unrealistic and even exaggerated assumptions about the Chinese. A statement like “Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it” is really over-the-top, and I am confident many Chinese Malaysians do not share this sentiment. And yet, their kids still do well.

It’s great to learn about other people’s cultural practices. But it is equally important to be wary of situations where we blindly adopt what others do, just so that we can reproduce the simplistic outcomes that were pompously highlighted. It is noteworthy to mention that cultural awareness begins by understanding yourself, then learning to understand others.

Amy is in the spotlight because she has this superiority complex about herself, and she needs to tell the whole world about it. Okay, she is a Yale law professor – so what? At the end of the day, her views on motherhood is just that – her personal opinion.

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Amy Chua should stop preaching. Chinese mothers are certainly not any more superior than other mothers. Full stop. Beijing-based IP/IT lawyer and law professor, Stan Abrams (Webpage, posted January 10, 2011) concluded that Amy is really an insufferable elitist and not a model Chinese parent as she wants the world to believe. He even quantified her misplaced beliefs as 90% crap! I cannot agree with you more, Stan!

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