17 January 2011

Tiger Mothers Never Retreat, They Lure You In

In the week since The Wall Street Journal published an excerpt of the new book by Amy Chua, a Yale law professor, under the headline “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” Ms. Chua has received death threats, she says, and “hundreds, hundreds” of e-mails...many called Ms. Chua a “monster” or “nuts”... _NYTimes

There may well have been days, recently, when Amy Chua wonders if people are mistaking her for Sarah Palin -- with all the death threats and personal animosity being thrown her way. When bold and independent women in public life occasionally dare to let down their guard, they are sometimes punished for it.
“It’s been a little surprising, and a little bit intense, definitely,” Ms. Chua said in a phone interview on Thursday, between what she called a “24/7” effort to “clarify some misunderstandings.” Her narration, she said, was meant to be ironic and self-mocking — “I find it very funny, almost obtuse.”

...Her real crime, she said, may have been telling the truth. “I sort of feel like people are not that honest about their own parenting,” she said. “Take any teenage household, tell me there is not yelling and conflict.”

Ms. Chua is one half of the kind of Asian-Jewish academic power couple that, as she notes, populates many university towns. Her husband is Jed Rubenfeld, also a Yale law professor, and the author of two successful mystery novels. Ms. Chua, herself the author of two previous books, was reported to have received an advance in the high six figures for “Tiger Mother.”

...“I’ve been forced to answer questions about a book I didn’t write,” she said. “It’s not saying what people should do, it’s saying, ‘Here’s what I did, and boy did I learn a lesson.’ ” All this is captured, she said, in the book’s three-paragraph subtitle, which concludes with the words, “and how I was humbled by a thirteen-year-old.”

...She was determined to raise her daughters the way she and her three sisters had been raised — which, she said, left them adoring their parents. By her account, her elder daughter, Sophia, complied, excelled and played piano at Carnegie Hall. But the younger, Lulu, rebelled. At the turning point of the memoir, Lulu, then 13, begins smashing glasses in a Moscow restaurant and yelling at her mother, “I HATE my life, I HATE you.”

Ms. Chua’s husband appears only peripherally in “Tiger Mother” — though there is one battle in which she lashes out at him after he worries that she is pushing their daughters to the point that there is “no breathing room” in their home.

“All you do is think about writing your own books and your own future,” she says to him. “What dreams do you have for Sophia or for Lulu? Do you ever think about that? What dreams do you have for Coco?” He bursts out laughing — Coco is their dog.

She concludes, “I didn’t understand what was so funny, but I was glad our fight was over.” _NYT
Yes. I, too, wonder what dreams Jed has for Coco. ;-) Honestly, if readers are unable to detect the irony and self-deprecating humour in Chua's writing, perhaps they should stick to comic books and romances.

East Asians are not the only ones who raise their children in a very strict manner. It is quite likely that most children of strict and disciplined upbringings turned out quite well -- as long as love was prominently displayed in the home as well. Children need discipline and boundaries. But the discipline should become internalised and the boundaries should be expandable with increasing maturity.

Modern western parents are negligent, as a rule, in terms of instilling practical competencies in their children. Criminally so, in many cases. And yet it may be possible for badly raised children to salvage something of their lives, in spite of their parents' neglect or over-pampering. We hope so.

Chua's book -- and the outrage it has caused -- has certainly been a revelation. Not an altogether reassuring one. Or, perhaps, more of a reminder than a revelation. Sometimes one likes to forget how screwed up his culture has become.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share


Blogger Lisa said...

Finally, I found out one different review of Chua's parenting style. I was raised in rather strict parents, but as I grew up, my mom changed also. She used different approach between to 7 year-old me and to 15 year-old me.

But, beside all those strict rules, my mom also taught me about how lucky I am in life. I can still remember one day, when we passed less fortunate children on the road, my mom told me about how lucky I am compared to them.

Some said you can learn from success and also from failure. I say you can learn the easy way or you can learn the hard way, but more rewarding.
In the end, I am the one who enjoy the fruit of my labor.

Thursday, 20 January, 2011  
Blogger al fin said...

Thanks for your comment.

The current fad of political correctness has made a lot of ordinary people stupid about what children need to succeed in life.

Modern educational and child-raising theoreticians with their fetish of self-esteem are ruining many young lives.

Friday, 21 January, 2011  

Post a Comment

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts