My husband read it first. "Kathleen, you have got to see this" he said as he handed me the Weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal. There, on the cover, was an essay by Yale Law School professor Amy Chua entitled "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior." Yikes. This is gonna be good. So, I read the article and was appalled at the lengths this woman would go to instill perfection in her daughters. The opportunities she denied them and the effort she demanded from them. I went to the web site to see if anyone had posted any comments and was amazed to see over 500 already there (when I sat down to pen this blog post, there were over 1700 comments).
I went to my Facebook page to post a link to the article only to discover several friends had beaten me to it. Throughout the weekend, I received emails and phone calls from friends across the country who had read the article and wanted to discuss it. Clearly, Ms. Chua touched a very hot button with her article. I will give her immense credit for her ability to put it all out there. Clearly, she had to know that her personal examples would not reflect well on her with her Western audiences. Also, as she has a book coming out tomorrow, she is a master marketer.
Boiled down, it is her position that Chinese parents raise more successful children than Western parents due to their unwavering focus on academic success and their ability to eliminate all competing distractions from their children's lives in order to demand that success. The author believes that there are three major differences in parenting between Western parents and Chinese parents:
1) Western parents place too great an emphasis on self-esteem. In her view, Chinese parents believe self-esteem comes with success and must be earned. If a child does not do well, the Chinese parent does not believe it is due to any lack of ability but rather because the child did not work hard enough and he or she should be punished and shamed until improvement occurs.
2) Chinese parents believe their children owe them everything and therefore should do whatever it is the parents ask or expect of them irrespective of their ability to perform said tasks.
3) Chinese parents believe they know what is best for their children in all respects and therefore can override their children's own wishes and desires. In fact, what the child wants is not a factor for consideration. Only what the parent believes the child should want and enjoy.
In her defense, which I feel she does need as the comments against her are just so mean, she does have a couple interesting points. Parents know best. Not always and in every situation but especially for the younger children, often they do. Practice makes perfect. Very few of us are born with the innate ability that matches our passion for activities be them sports or music or art or whatever else. Practicing these skills helps improve these skills which often increases our enjoyment of the activity.
So, what do you think? Is the Chinese model superior to the Western model? Is the Western model of nurturing individualism and allowing children to follow their passions misguided? Are we (Western parents) raising generations of weak, unfocused children who will not be able to compete in the 21st century marketplace?
Win a FuzziBunz One Size or Perfect Size Diaper
Well, since we are talking China, how about a diaper that used to be made there? Parenting favorite FuzziBunz. We will give away one of their very popular One Size or one of their equally popular Perfect Size (your choice) to a randomly selected entrant. Giveaway ends January 25, 2011. In order to enter:
1. Post a comment about your parenting style on this blog post
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