The tiger mother and you: Are we preparing our kids for a better financial future?

Battle Hymn of the Tiger MotherThose of you who are parents — and those of you who came from them — may have already read the Wall Street Journal article by Amy Chua (which is an excerpt from her new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother). If you haven't read it, this excerpt will give you an idea:

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, what it's like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I've done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

  • attend a sleepover
  • have a playdate
  • be in a school play
  • complain about not being in a school play
  • watch TV or play computer games
  • choose their own extracurricular activities
  • get any grade less than an A
  • not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • not play the piano or violin.

As shown in this Today Show interview with Chua — a Yale law professors and the daughter of Chinese immigrants — when her daughter gave her a plain handmade birthday card, Chua handed it back and said, “I reject this.”

We namby-pamby Western parents may cringe at such harshness, which is one of Chua's points. Western parents, she says, are too worried about their kids' self-esteem. Chinese parents, on the other hand, “assume strength, not fragility,” and thus can get away with calling their kids “garbage” or “fatty.”

The article has set off a conflagration of debate, mostly critical of Chua. However, as typical of my deliberate, contemplative nature (read: wishy-washiness), I'm not quite sure what to make of it all. If this is indeed the way most Chinese (as well as other Asians) raise their kids, and if this indeed is the reason Asians, as a group, are more academically successful, I can't help but pay attention. My job, my kids' future jobs, and my non-Asian investments all depend on being able to compete in an increasingly globalized world. Herein, I'll lay out thoughts on why Chua's style of parenting may be off the mark, and then discuss why she may be on to something.

“Yes, Mommie Dearest”
The criticism of this style of parenting falls along these lines:

A's aren't everything. A Motley Fool freelance contributor, who during the day works for one of the biggest companies in the world, recently took a company-sponsored class. One of the things the instructor said was this: “The ‘A' students typically work for the ‘B' students, but it's the ‘C' students who own the company.”

While that's very simplistic, it was somewhat confirmed in a recent interview I conducted with Thomas Stanley, co-author of The Millionaire Next Door and author of the more recent Stop Acting Rich. He said that, according to his research, the typical American millionaire “owns his own business, went to a four-year public college, and was a B or C student.” (The interview will be posted on Get Rich Slowly next month.) I won't encourage my kids to be C students, but a person's success will be determined by more than a transcript — things like interpersonal skills, self-confidence, creativity, and a certain amount of independent thought, among others.

The “Chinese” way doesn't produce innovators or entrepreneurs. If you read through the 7500-plus comments to Chua's article on WSJ.com, you'll see plenty along the lines of “Yeah, well, why does the U.S. have three times the GDP of China with one-third the people?” Or “Have the Chinese invented anything great since gunpowder?” Or “Why do the vast majority of Nobel Prize winners comes from the West?” Most of these are chauvinistic throwaways. But they do touch on a fair question: Does very rigid parenting produce too-rigid adults? Would there be a Microsoft or Apple if Bill Gates or Steve Jobs were raised this way? The Chinese themselves are wondering this.

The principal of the Peking University High School wrote (also in the Wall Street Journal):

Now that China is a market economy hoping to compete globally, it's jealous of America's ability to turn its brightest students into the world's best scientists and businesspeople.

That sounds like a miserable childhood. No Sesame Street? No drums? Sure, Chua's daughter has performed at Carnegie Hall. But is that worth not getting your hand dipped in water by your friends while you're asleep…and all the other fun stuff that happens at sleepovers?

Among the comments to her article, you'll find plenty of people who were reared this way and didn't appreciate it. One example:

I am Chinese-American and I hate the way that my parents raised me. As a child I lacked complete freedom to make my own choices. I was not able to freely hang out with friends and I was forced to study all the time.

To be fair, you'll also find plenty of comments along the lines of “I was raised that way and am thankful for it.”

Fat, Drunk, and Stupid Is No Way to Go Through Life
On the other hand, maybe we Western parents are too easy on our kids. Here are some thoughts along those lines:

American kids are getting out-worked. Whitney Tilson, a hedge-fund manager and indefatigable education reformer, has written a lot on this topic (and Chua's article) on his blog. Here's a sample:

I find what Chua describes (no sleepovers, playdates, or ability to make any decisions at all) to be extreme, but if one were to put parental expectations of/pressure on/control of kids on a 0-10 scale, with 10 being what Chua describes, I think the ideal is much closer to 10 than 0 — maybe an 8.

In a world filled with endless, cheap, mind-rotting entertainment via hundreds of TV channels (heavily weighted toward 24/7 sports, cartoons, and other junk), the Internet, video games, music and movies, I'm firmly convinced that nearly all children will spend every waking hour messing around with these activities and wasting their lives, unless their parents AND schools (but the former much more importantly) keep a very close eye on them, tightly restrict what they can do, and make them do many things they don't want to do, such as study hard, read books, have a reasonable diet, go to bed on time, dress decently, etc…

For more on how Chinese (and Indian) youth are just HUSTLING a lot more than America youth are, I highly recommend a great documentary, Two Million Minutes.

Here's the trailer for Two Million Minutes:

American kids are getting out-educated. You've likely already heard all the stats about America's flagging education system, so I won't dwell on the topic. I'll just quote one study — from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development — which found that American 15-year-olds ranked 17th in reading, 23rd in science, and 31st in math. Tops in each category: the kids in Shanghai, China.

My kids have to compete with these kids. I live in a county with a high school that is regularly ranked as the best in America. It's a public school, but you have to apply to get in, and it's tough. Among the class of 2014, 57.5% are Asian. To what extent are my kids competing against kids with “Chinese mothers” (a term the Chua explains can be applied to parents of any ethnicity who are equally strict)? And that's just for high school; what about the rest of their lives?

Maybe we do care too much about self-esteem. I have to include this quote from former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee (whom I respect a great deal):

We've lost our competitive spirit. We've become so obsessed with making kids feel good about themselves that we've lost sight of building the skills they need to actually be good at things. I can see it in my own household.

I have two girls, 8 and 12, and they play soccer. And I can tell you that they suck at soccer! They take after their mother in athletic ability. But if you were to see their rooms, they're adorned with ribbons, medals and trophies. You'd think I was raising the next Mia Hamm.

I routinely try to tell my kids that their soccer skills are lacking and that if they want to be better, they have to practice hard. I also communicate to them that all the practice in the world won't guarantee that they'll ever be great at soccer. It's tough to square this, though, with the trophies. And that's part of the issue. We've managed to build a sense of complacency with our children.

For more from Rhee, and a funny/sad snippet on American kids' self-esteem, watch this trailer for the excellent movie Waiting for Superman:

Building Better Brokamps: Project 21

My wife and I have discussed this article and our parenting quite a bit. We don't want to be overly strict; we want our children to have happy childhoods. But we also want them to be equipped to compete in the job markets of tomorrow and have their own shot at getting rich slowly.

Important note! As you know if you've read my GRS profile, my wife and I adopted a girl from China, so I don't view this as a “U.S. vs. China” thing. It's more a question of what's the best way to raise a kid. From the bottom of our sappy little hearts, my wife and I are grateful to the people of China for entrusting their little Gao An-Qiong to us.

Our solution for now is something we're calling “Project 21” (working subtitle: Raising Our Own Best Guests). We're imagining that it's several years from now, and our kids are 21-plus years old and home for Thanksgiving dinner. What kind of people do we hope to see around the table?

We've just begun this, so the list hasn't been finalized yet. But it includes a range of skills and characteristics, such having a work ethic, being financially prudent, and, yes, doing well in school (what would you expect from two parents who each have a master's degree in education?). It will also include some touchy-feely — but very important — stuff, such as being polite, being adept at the art of conversation, demonstrating compassion to others, having interests and passions that they want to share, and appreciating creativity, cleverness, and a good joke.

Last night my wife said, “Bad parenting is a major threat to national security.” I heartily agree. But the question is, what exactly is bad parenting? I'm not sure I'd want to be Chua's kid (though, in this hilarious interview with Stephen Colbert, Chua explains that her book is a bit more nuanced than the WSJ article). But I do appreciate that she's spurred a national debate about how our kids are raised.

More about...Economics, Books

Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

Subscribe to the GRS Insider (FREE) and we’ll give you a copy of the Money Boss Manifesto (also FREE)

Yes! Sign up and get your free gift
Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others
guest
120 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tobias
Tobias
9 years ago

Raising kids this way is no guarantee or “better” way of making prodigies and/or successful adults. Anyone thinking harshness and brutality will produce intelligent and talented children has simply forgotten what it is like to be a child. People like Chu sell “simple solutions” to complex problems that worries parents. These parents buy into it in some hope that they will find an easy way to make their kids successful. It doesnt work. Some kids will get great grades, some wont. I dont understand the pressure in our culture to be so immensly succesfull! Some of the happiest people I… Read more »

k
k
9 years ago

I think it’s worth looking at these differences to get at a happy medium. But, if you only read the WSJ article and excerpt, you might come away with a much more harsh view of Chua than is probably fair.

Derek
Derek
9 years ago

Wow. This article made me glad that I’m not Chinese! I think the way we Americans raise our children is terrible, but I think the best way would be a mix between the Chinese and America.

I will definitely limit my child’s television and encourage creativity. Grades will be important, but if they don’t get an ‘A’, it won’t be the end of the world. I’d rather spark their inventive mind than structural memorizing of information.

Nancy L.
Nancy L.
9 years ago

What, is this controversial topic week on GRS? 😉 First of all, the criticisms lodged against Ms. Chua are oversimplified in this article. Forcing a child to practice a piano for hours and hours with no bathroom breaks goes well beyond “parenting” into the realm of abuse, and from a music education sense does nothing towards teaching true musical expression. Many of the criticisms also bring up the extremely high rate of suicide among children raised in this manner. While I agree with the overall presumption that children can withstand greater educational and emotional challenges than are currently provided in… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago

Ditto to #3 Nancy L. And this controversy was SO LAST WEEK. I like the old Brokamp better than the new one. The one with solid well-researched articles that may not have gotten a lot of comments, but were worth looking up in the archive or bookmarking. I’m not going to engage in this one… moralizing about how other people raise their kids is dull and none of my business. (Well, except when grumpy rumblings writes a post on bullying, of course, then it’s fascinating.) I think I’m turning into one of those commenters that I hate who is always… Read more »

Inga
Inga
9 years ago

Very good comment on the article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703959104576081873998873948.html?mod=WSJ_article_related#articleTabs%3Dcomments%26commentId%3D2000775 An excerpt: “From a purely academic perspective, virtually every study ever done on the effect of negative re-enforcement in teaching, particularly children, has shown just how ineffective it is relative to well placed and consistent positive reinforcement. What I experienced were children that were being left behind because they were forced into a rigid and draconian educational system that produces people with low self esteem and an inability to cope with uncertainty. The mass predilection for acceptance in the group through status and wealth, which are unobtainable by the vast majority vs. the… Read more »

Yaryna
Yaryna
9 years ago

As a child of Eastern European immigrants I would characterize my upbringing as “Tiger-Mother Lite”. We were expected to do well in school, be respectful to others, listen to our parents, not talk back, go to college, do good deeds (yes, we were/are scouts). be fluent in two languages and generally contribute to society. While sleep-overs and birthday parties were rare treats, they were allowed, and were all the more appreciated because they were treats, not something we were entitled to… My fingers and toes are probably sufficient to count the number of times my parents out-and-out praised our academic… Read more »

Sam
Sam
9 years ago

I think that, in general, many American kids are “soft” and being raised by over indulgent parents who want to be friends with their kids. American kids, heck American adults, don’t work nearly as hard as most of the rest of the world and there is such an entitlement trend these days, everyone deserves rather than everone earns whatever the latest and gratest is. I’m all for no t.v., I was raised without one, and I think the trend of rewarding every child for effort rather than rewarding results devalues instead of encourages. Kids recognize this as well. But, of… Read more »

Everyday Tips
Everyday Tips
9 years ago

It is a tough balance. I do believe many kids I see here in the US have it way to easy, and they also have some examples for parents (in terms of the ‘you could die tomorrow’ mentality). We have a couple private schools where I live and the schools have a curriculum that Tiger Moms stereotypically are drawn to. The kids all turn out cookie-cutter basically, and they want to be doctors or lawyers. Many of these kids do very well in real life because they already have a huge network of professionals to help them start out. Personally,… Read more »

Veej
Veej
9 years ago

Please reconsider your support for Waiting For Superman. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/nov/11/myth-charter-schools

It is not a sustainable or even currently good solution for schools.

I’m not a parent nor do I want to be, but I want to live in a country with a sound educational system. It’s a sound investment that my tax dollars SHOULD go to. I’m also tired of seeing my friends who are teachers in the Chicago Public School system quit, move, or grow hard and depressed.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
9 years ago

I’m just starting to follow this debate, but as a former teacher one thing I can tell you is that many of today’s kids don’t hear the word “no” often enough. I was horrified in teacher’s college when they told us never to say no directly to students. Apparently it would harm them to be rejected. I’ve seen parents try to reason with small kids who aren’t developmentally ready for it, and parents who don’t want to be “the bad guy” after a long day at work. I can see both sides of the story, and know it’s hard to… Read more »

Diane
Diane
9 years ago

I was a teaching assistant for a college class in which the professor told me that if a student lost all the points on an exam question, to write “+0” instead of “-10”, because the minus might make them feel bad. They also got to make up any exams or quizzes they missed if they brought a written excuse, even if that excuse said “hangover”.

Jan
Jan
9 years ago

Like #9 I agree. As for one group of people being best at raising children…well there are many. Remember that the ONLY way to get ahead in China twenty years ago was education. You got educated and then you got OUT! Now, let’s compare apples to apples. What does the top 10% of our population look like in education? The high school in Shanghai is known as the best- but it is competitive to get in- thousands sit the exam. It is boarding and completely funded. Shall we compare it to Excelsior or Andover or some of those amazing high… Read more »

fantasma
fantasma
9 years ago

Play dates, sleep overs what’s that?! C’s are inexcusable, but if you did get one, you better explain yourself and provide a plan to do better. I was raised Tiger Mother Lite as well.

Adriana
Adriana
9 years ago

A few random thoughts: 1. American kids are too coddled in the name of self-esteem. When you reward the most middling and mediocre performance, you teach kids that they don’t need to work hard b/c they will be rewarded no matter what. This devalues true hard work and true accomplishment. 2. I do agree with Ms. Chua that young children, given a choice, will spend their days playing video games or the like. Part of life is doing what you “have” to do along with fitting in time for what you “want” to do. I don’t “want” to work, but… Read more »

indio
indio
9 years ago

The irony about this discussion on education is that NYTimes also recently ran an article about how the Chinese education system is trying to mimic the US style of education. The point of the article was that the US is trying to copy the Chinese rote, mechanized way of learning with Singapore math program and the Chinese are trying to copying the US style of less rote. In fact there was an article on the 25th about this, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/26/world/asia/26iht-letter26.html?scp=1&sq=learning%20methods&st=cse. There are two sides to this argument and the Chinese side wasn’t represented in totality, only the excerpts about testing scores,… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago

RE: “Controversial Topics Week”
HA! That certainly wasn’t intentional, but we may have hit two hot spots. If it’s any consolation, we’re back to boring old personal finance here in the near future: conscious spending, cost of living, cheap dates, and — of course — comic books!

Remember: Often when it seems like GRS is grooving on a particular topic or style, it’s simply an accident. It’s not part of a larger trend. That’s the case here, too.

Shalom
Shalom
9 years ago

When I read the WSJ excerpt of the book, my primary thought was: But what’s the POINT of all these rules? What is the point of taking two children, without regard to individual personalities, abilities or proclivities, and forcing them to play piano or violin? Unless a child has her own intense obsession with music, what good does this do the child or society? I absolutely agree that a good parent pushes a child toward mastery of skills. I agree with Ms. Chua that nothing is fun until you’re good at it, and that children need help to learn the… Read more »

SecondhandMoon
SecondhandMoon
9 years ago

I want to clarify my off-the-cuff comment: This article left me shaking with anger, and that is not what I expect when I check Get Rich Slowly every day. I can’t believe we’re having a serious discussion of whether denying your children a social life and the ability to make their own choices is BETTER for them because they might make more money one day! I thought one of the tenets of GRS was that there’s more to life than just the bottom line. I feel sorry for Chua’s children and every other child raised by such a tyrant. Caring… Read more »

David
David
9 years ago

Perhaps a more fitting way to work an article about the book into this website is a ‘how to get rich a-bit-quicker-than-slowly’ by writing a book, leaking controversial and somewhat out-of-context excerpts to the major press to generate massive publicity even if most is negative, then laugh all the way to the bank 😉 Seriously, though, I disagree that this article is totally out of place here. It’s good to have a twist on typical personal finance-related stuff from time to time to keep from content getting stale (though I do have to compliment JD & the other contributors for… Read more »

Yaryna
Yaryna
9 years ago

Just a quick follow-on to my “Tiger Mother Lite” comment earlier – I realize that I didn’t touch on finance. Part of being raised by folks that had survived WWII in Europe was that our household was also frugal. My parents scrimped and saved to ensure we had a roof over our heads, could go to summer camp and did not want for the essentials – and they made sure to give to charity as well. Unfortunately because they were so cautious they were not smart about money. Their IRA’s are invested in CD’s (try to explain real interest rates… Read more »

Jeremy Walter
Jeremy Walter
9 years ago

Wow – so much to think about on an already overwhelming agenda of thoughts. But great, great article. My issue is this: what if our kids, for some terrible reason, don’t ever make it to adulthood? There’s a balance of meeting definite present day needs with planning for potential future day wants. We could easily steel their childhood, which can never be replaced, all for nothing. Thinking of money, it reminds me of someone who lives on rice and beans for 40 years, to save up for retirement, planned for 20 years, and dies 1 year into retirement. Wasted life.… Read more »

Raghu Bilhana
Raghu Bilhana
9 years ago

Yes as someone raised in India, I can affirm to what Robert says, Asian (Indian and chinese in particular) upbringing and parenting style puts a lot of pressure on the child to excel only in academics and nothing else. Absolutely nothing else. Although the child may excel initially in academics, do you know what it does to the child in the long term. The child would absolutely have no self-confidence. No confidence that he/she could do something. How many children from India and China can confidently speak in front of a group without feeling shy? Very minimum. More than losing… Read more »

Ash
Ash
9 years ago

When I was younger I began to feel that achievements in school were pretty much worthless because they were handed out to everyone. If everyone gets a medal, no one gets a medal.

I really think US public education has gone too far in the direction of over-encouraging everyone. There’s a difference between telling someone that they are crap and not saying anything. What is there to strive for if everyone is rewarded regardless?

Sushi
Sushi
9 years ago

As an immigrant Indian parent who grew up Tiger Lite, we struggle every moment to not be on either extreme. My child does not get to go on sleepovers often, but knows they are special occasions. I feel Special Occasions in the US have become like Desserts/sweets. A little bit goes a long way in making you happy.We’ve forgotten the serving sizes now. I’ve had American friends look at me in horror when I say that my child gets to eat ice cream only in summer. Also, don’t discount the fact, if there weren’t any A students to work for… Read more »

Ash
Ash
9 years ago

Whoops, one more thing.

“…which found that American 15-year-olds ranked 17th in reading, 23rd in science, and 31st.”

31st in what? Math?

J.D.’s note: Oops. I think I edited that out. Yes, math.
Sushi
Sushi
9 years ago

[email protected]:As someone also raised in India, my parents gave us the opportunities to learn music, dance, do social service and most of the freedoms that American kids have growing up. But we did have strict limits. Not all of us are successful like, say Bill Gates.But what percent of the coddled children grow up to be Bill Gates? But I can tell you, that most the Asian(Indian, Chinese, etc) children grow up to be reasonably successful in that they are not financial burdens on their parents/society.

retirebyforty
retirebyforty
9 years ago

I’m raising my kid to be the class clown. 🙂

Allen
Allen
9 years ago
31st in completing sentences.

J.D.’s note: Highlighted because it made me laugh. (And again, it’s 31st in editing sentences. I think Robert had this right, and I broke it.)

E
E
9 years ago

First of all, I like this post. There’s a lot of debate about how education is tied to earning power, and earning power is a big part of personal finance, so I think it is a good topic for Get Rich Slowly. I’ve been following a lot of the articles about the whole “Tiger Mother” controversy. Robert did a great job summarizing arguments on both side of the issue. I wish my parents had pushed me a little more, but I certainly think Amy Chua is way over the top. My husband and I were not raised anything like the… Read more »

Anne Keckler | ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
Anne Keckler | ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
9 years ago

I think everyone should read about the Sudbury Valley School to see a different side of this coin. Here is an excerpt from their FAQ (http://www.sudval.com/01_abou_09.html): Daria: Tell us a little bit about the boy fishing, because I think it’s really important. How did he get there and what happened to him? Mimsy: Well, there were two boys who fished all the time. The first one had been in a public school, but he wasn’t very old — he was eight or nine — and he was not comfortable with being told what to do, which is true of most… Read more »

Sarah J.
Sarah J.
9 years ago

My mother is a teacher at a Catholic school, and she was almost fired last year because she failed some students who were actually failing. If she continues to fail students who deserve to fail (do not even turn in their homework, etc.) she will lose her job. She offers numerous opportunities for students to succeed, but they have to put in some effort too. The principle says he supports the teachers, but the parents are the ones paying the tuition, and if their children don’t succeed, whether they deserve to or not, they will put them in a different… Read more »

kim
kim
9 years ago

Jan @ #13 makes a point that the media consistently ignores. In the US, all of our children are required to participate in education, and the kids with developmental issues or crummy home lives that interfere with their ability to learn, or who are just not academic by nature test along side our best and brightest, which does bring our test average down. In many countries these kids would not make it through the door of a secondary school and instead be sent out to work in laboring situations or find their own way in extreme poverty. Thank God our… Read more »

Yaryna
Yaryna
9 years ago

AMEN to Sarah J’s (#27) comment!

Patangy
Patangy
9 years ago

I come from an Asian background and my parents were also Tiger Mother Lite. We were allowed to watch TV, go to sleepovers, etc. but when it came to school and grades their expectations were high. Anything below a 90 would be considered “OK” and below 75 was pretty much a fail. 98 was “Good”. Praise was never given unless it was deserved. As a child, they constantly told me (in the car, while eating dinner, etc) that getting a good education was the key to success in life, or else I would end up as the garbage man picking… Read more »

akajb
akajb
9 years ago

As a grad student, I’ve interacted with many students who’ve got into a very good university in Canada. I’ve talked with friends about these students. All of us agree that it’s not that students seem to be getting stupider (in fact, it’s more likely they haven’t changed much) but that students are much more entitled. And this is a result of both parenting, schools and sports – the everyone gets a medal and praise. Students think deadlines don’t apply to them. That they should be able to re-do any assignment until they get perfect. That trying is worth complete marks.… Read more »

gwyneth
gwyneth
9 years ago

being half-chinese and being raised with what I consider a healthy mix of the two systems, I have to say I loved my childhood, and look on both extremes of parenting with dislike. I think this article really relates well back to the one of the missionary raising their kids in Papua New Guinea. The “keeping up with the Jones” of parenting is rough, even before you get your kids into school, at which point it becomes extreme. You don’t want your kid to watch 7 hours of TV a day like their friend, but you fear the resentment that… Read more »

Sandy
Sandy
9 years ago

Although parenting includes educating, for me the Tiger Mother issue is really dealing with two distinct subjects: education and human relations. I do believe our kids are being out-educated, and we need to step up our system, expect more from our students, and value our educators more. I also believe that being a parent, and indeed, being in any relationship with another requires love,kindness,compassion and respect–assets that Ms. Chua clearly lacks or else has not demonstrated. We don’t need to coddle our kids, but we also don’t need to insult, belittle, or terrorize them either. If it’s inappropriate to treat… Read more »

naughtysecretary
naughtysecretary
9 years ago

I can`t believe anyone would entertain the Tiger Mother concept. It`s simply going from one extreme to another. Children in North America have too many freedoms that need to be regulated, not removed entirely.

honeybee
honeybee
9 years ago

When I saw the title I rolled my eyes and thought “not again on the Tiger Mother stuff” but this was well-written and typically interesting to read like everything Brokamp writes. I will check out that documentary, looks fascinating. Very interesting notion about raising the guests you’d like to have at dinner. Thanks for the article.

ali
ali
9 years ago

I’d say a big problem is that Americans don’t value funding public education. And not just on a K-12 level, funding is cut at the univeristy level too. I live in Florida and one thing I see and hear quite often are people complaining about how they have to pay for schools when they don’t have kids. The attitude is often – I’m done with kids so I shouldn’t have to pay a dime towards public education. (Florida has a lot of retirees) I don’t have kids, don’t plan to, and it’s still important to me that public schools get… Read more »

Cara
Cara
9 years ago

@EverydayTips (comment #9) “The kids all turn out cookie-cutter basically, and they want to be doctors or lawyers.” No, their PARENTS want them to be doctors or lawyers (or engineers). I’m a child of Chinese immigrants, and thankfully they weren’t as hard-core as Amy Chua, but on the other hand I was told when I was in 4th grade that I would be an engineer. There was no room for argument or discussion. Any other field of study, any other career, was for “losers,” and I didn’t want to be a loser in my parents eyes, did I? It didn’t… Read more »

Emmy
Emmy
9 years ago
There’s a great article by Jeff Yang of the SF Chronicle about Chua’s book, including an interview where she explains the backlash that has occurred since the Journal article. Check it out:

http://articles.sfgate.com/2011-01-13/entertainment/27026230_1_chinese-parents-asian-american-jeff-yang

I’d also ask everyone to think carefully about what they want to say before commenting, since a lot of the discourse around this book (not here, but certainly in the type of comments Robert quoted) has been…er, off-putting, to me and other Asian Americans. There’s also a great post on the blog Disgrasian about the book:

http://disgrasian.com/2011/01/battle-hymn-of-the-tiger-mother-you-hated-the-excerpt-now-read-the-book/

Erika
Erika
9 years ago

Nice take. In my opinion we’re surrounded by such a wealth of escapism because our interpretation of the Protestant work ethic leaves us emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. Speaking from a Gen X perspective, after hauling myself straight through from grade six ‘gifted’ to a doctorate with no break I burned out entirely. More of my colleagues than not have done the same. Therefore my also ‘gifted’ 8-year-old is home today reading comics and folding origami. Not because he’s sick, but because occasionally he needs space to think, and I grant that. This is how he achieves straight As –… Read more »

AC
AC
9 years ago

I think there are two variables here at play: spoiling children and expecting them to be academic achievers. There are a lot of parents out there who have kids who make high grades, but are spoiling them with expensive activities, frequent sleep overs on school nights, and poor money habits at the same time.

Kevin
Kevin
9 years ago

Nice reply by David Brooks about a week ago in his NYT column: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/18/opinion/18brooks.html?adxnnl=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&adxnnlx=1296144368-7fvjd4bTjDxkCdMeQWEQ3g. It’s interesting to note that, while I was never any good at playing an instrument or other such things Chua required, I feel I’m in a better position, now in college, than those who were raised that way. In talking to recruiters on campus and during interview session, once you meet their baseline GPA, it’s all about connected with people and showing that you’re a good person to not only get the work done, but also be around 40-60+ hours/week. I’m sure there are more students… Read more »

SecondhandMoon
SecondhandMoon
9 years ago

Hmm…seems like my previous comments didn’t make it through moderation. I thought your readers might like to know that Asian-American women ages 15-24 have the highest suicide rate of women in any race or ethnic group in that age group. Just a thought.

J.D.’s note: Just a reminder that from 6am to 8am Pacific every weekday, I’m at the gym. If your comment gets trapped in moderation, it’s not going to get rescued until after I get home. But it will get rescued. Be patient.
Cara
Cara
9 years ago

@Kevin (#46): thanks for posting the link to the David Brooks article. I never thought of it that way, but it’s so true!

chris
chris
9 years ago

As a teacher (high school) and as a parent with kids in school (elementary and junior high) I know that there is so much wrong with our schools. It is true that teachers who do their jobs get punished. It is also true that there are teachers who are looked highly upon who do nothing but build student self esteem – and who do not teach or build accountability. My daughter also has teachers who regularly make errors when entering her grades which causes her to lose points and get lower grades than she should. The solution? I have no… Read more »

Elaine
Elaine
9 years ago

Absolutely! Great article!

Both are extremes the “American way” and the “Chinese way,” I love that you highlighted how the Chinese way doesn’t traditionally produce innovation.

However, the biggest thing Americans could employ “assuming strength, not fragility” (great quote by the way!). That doesn’t mean raising kids with totalitarian rules, but it does mean to have expectations of your kids and make them significant.

shares