January 9, 2011

Chinese Mothering Involves Neither Joy Nor Luck

Woo-hoo, this just in from New Haven, aka the place where Amy Chua's kids already are, and your kids will never get, because they have lazy, weak, over-coddling you for a parent instead of a real Chinese Mother:

Uh, well, actually, that's the whole story. Chinese moms are gonna kick your parenting ass.

Chua has a new hardcore parenting book coming out in a couple of days, and it reads like a parody, Vice Magazine's Guide To Getting Your Non-Asian Kid Into The Ivies. Except that she's a Yale Law professor, her kid's a concert pianist, and the excerpt ran in the Wall Street Journal--where it's logged about 100 comments/hour. Here's the data-heavy part1:

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."

Hopefully, when it comes out, NYT book critic Dwight Garner will give it the same insane/awesome review treatment he gaveTimothy Ferriss's The 4-Hour Body.

Meanwhile, the masochists and Machiavellis out there--or should I say the sadists and Sun Tzus--can buy Chua's book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother at Amazon. [amazon]

Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior [wsj via @felixsalmon]

[1] Here's a discussion of that study, Chua referred to, complete with the following, "it is critically important to remember that these findings represent central tendencies of a group and cannot be generalized to all members of a particular group, even within the samples studied."
[2] The 1996 study by Dr. Ruth Chao, whose research focus is Asian immigrant parenting styles, is titled, "Chinese and European American Mothers' Beliefs about the Role of Parenting in Children's School Success," and is not freely available online. A related study from 2000, is available as a pdf.


the whole time I was reading that I kept thinking of the poor, disappointed mothers of the chinese men and women who used to dig through my garbage in san francisco looking for recyclables.

Like Eskimos and snow, Hokkien has 43 different words for garbage.

DWIGHT GARNER FTW. He's always good but that turned it up to 11.

"Tiger Mother," phhtthh. I am working on my own proposal: "He Had a Hat: Raising Mensches by Threatening Constantly To Put Your Head In The Oven."

Garner definitely killed the 4-hour-body review. The thing that I can't understand at all about Chua's piece is how the WSJ's editors let the excerpt get out as it is: a completely unstable voice, jumping between satire and actual statistics and back again with no warning or discipline. Hopefully she will beat her children into taking Narrative Voice classes after they've mastered violin.

Two interesting things I take away from the Amy Chua wikipedia page (seriously, I'm not making fun): Even her sister with down syndrome is a medal winning swimmer (Special Olympics) and Chua is married to a Jew and is raising her children Jewish- kids raised in Judaism with a typical "Chinese" mother- no wonder.

Sweeping generalization to follow: I see a lot of Asian/Jewish culture mixing going on in our area and others. They seem to have a lot of the same ideals and migrate to the same geographical areas/to each other.

Considering WSJ is owned by the same folks who run Fox news- unstable and delusional is in its own right a form of consistent narrative. Plus portraying Chua as semi-crazy and overly-superior has done wonders to promote her and the book.

And of course, Rupert Murdoch's wife is Chinese. It's all falling into place!

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