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Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, or why Chinese kids are smarter

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by LongTimeListener, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Parenting being as popular a topic as it is here, I don't know how many of you have seen the debate that has been raging this week after the Wall Street Journal published a book excerpt by a Yale law professor about a parenting style that Westerners might call abusive and Chinese might call effective.


    The author, Amy Chua, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the excerpt was mashed together without her knowledge, and that it isn't a how-to book but rather a memoir, one that also details clashes with her daughters and liberties they earned that aren't highlighted in the article.


    But the basic premise is the same: Chua believes the way to raise a child is to deny him or her any individuality or freedom. Among frivolities that were banned in her house were sleepovers, sports, acting in school plays and (of course) video games.

    This is always something that gets to me when there's a debate about American kids' test scores, particularly compared with China's. (Thanks, Ed Rendell!) If we want those results, does that mean we want to treat our kids like that? I understand where the numbers are headed. But if my children have a more well-rounded adolescence, attend a state university instead of an Ivy League institution, and find a "normal" job instead of a high-powered one, I am guessing that they will be happier than if I were browbeating them for every B-plus.

    This has caused a lot of angst, particularly among Asian parents who see it as stereotyping. I don't know where norms end and stereotyping begins, but it's indisputable that Asian parents place far far greater emphasis on education and especially on the competition within education.
  2. wicked

    wicked Well-Known Member

    I heard her on NPR earlier today. I couldn't listen to her for more than 30 seconds before changing the channel. She sounded way too smug.
  3. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    One of my colleagues is a very nerdy upper mid-westerner who married a Korean secretary in his salad days. Their three children have turned out fine -- nothing over the top, but certainly not reality TV either -- and they all talk about what a hardass their mother is (and also how stingy she is). My colleague says it's worked out fine for him; he gets to be the good cop in his household. On the other hand, even though his net worth's probably in excess of a million, he rarely is allowed out of his house with more than $10 or $15.
  4. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    I'm sure this woman's children will turn out to be perfectly well adjusted adults -- except for the one who beans her with an axe.
  5. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I can think of a ton of parents who are very competitive in regards to baseball or soccer or basketball for their kid but not so much when it comes to schoolwork.
  6. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Yes, and we know those parents are on the wrong track with the wrong motives -- their own egos. This woman is no different.
  7. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I agree. It's all about being competitive in whatever the parent values. Not what's best for the kid.
  8. Dyno

    Dyno Well-Known Member

    I have a (non-Asian) relative who buys into this. He doesn't believe in playdates, sleepovers or having friends really either. His older daughter has been taking piano and tennis lessons for over 3 years. She also is on a competitive swim team. She's very serious and seems stressed out for such a little girl. She's allowed to play with other kids when he takes her to the park, but he discourages her from going to birthday parties. The mother doesn't really get much say in the situation. It's very hard to watch.
  9. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    I was just saying that to a friend of mine -- a Chinese mom, as a matter of fact. The one thing you can say in the Chinese parent's favor is at least the kids are picking up skills that will actually help them in life. Not sure what being really really good at baseball does for a 22-year-old who's looking for a job in finance.
  10. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    To me, this woman kind of "proves" the example of one of Gladwell's books, the one about expertise. (Was it Outliers?) If you force a kid to do nothing but practice thing X for years, then eventually, they'll probably get really, really good at thing X.

    That being said, the article I read about her on Slate wasn't any kinder than the two in the OP. It's a good thing to force your kids to study for an hour or two a night. It's (probably) a bad thing to tell them they'll be in a shitload of trouble if they don't earn the highest grade in the class.
  11. wicked

    wicked Well-Known Member

    The statement that really annoyed me was her saying you need to be really good at something to enjoy it, hence her justification for ruining her kids' lives.

    I mean, I don't like anything I truly suck at, such as lifting weights. But there are plenty of things that I enjoy (video games) where I know I'm not very talented.
  12. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Yeah. I see parents who spent all their time and money on Little Johnny's AAU and All-Star baseball career, and you can tell that Little Johnny is going to be an average high school player at best.
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