The blogosphere is all abuzz with a lot of women furious about an article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.” It’s an excerpt from Amy Chua’s new book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” and basically, it’s an analysis of the Asian mentality versus the Western mentality of raising children. If I had to pick one myself, I’d pick the Asian method of raising children.
Chua writes: …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…and whether they could do it too.
…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.
Despite our squeamishness about cultural stereotypes, there are…studies out there showing marked and quantifiable differences between Chinese and Westerners when it comes to parenting. In one study…almost 70% of the Western mothers said either that ‘stressing academic success is not good for children,’ or ‘parents need to foster the idea that learning is fun.’ By contrast, roughly ZERO per cent of the Chinese mothers felt the same way…..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 just go play some sports.
I’ve been complaining for three decades about Western parents and just the things Amy Chua talks about. One of the main differences I have seen between Asian families and Western families is that Asian families will put in the time. They will not go blame the teacher. They’ll work with their kid until the kid “gets” it. Western families mostly blame the teacher and the school and moon spots, because (with their dual careers, divorce, remarriage, shacking up, and love lives) they don’t put in the time.
I’m much more a believer in the ultimate benefits of strength and courage and tenacity in life that you find with the Asian mentality. However, when the kids become adults, they can choose their way. But when they’re growing up, they need to learn how to handle choosing their way.