Hyphen magazine - Asian American arts, culture, and politics


'Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior': We'll See

Much as I hated having to read the entire smug business that is Amy Chua's book-promoting article, there was no way around it.

And much as I hate giving the writer more press, it's not an option to say nothing as, dangerously, she proselytizes to others her "Chinese mothering" strategies. Her piece opens like this:

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.

Oh look, that's my childhood. No, really. Point for point, that is my childhood.

And you know, for a long time it worked. My parents had one daughter acing calculus in tenth grade. Another graduating top of her class. True, school's not that hard when you have Nothing Else to Do.

That was a number of years before I tried to step off a bridge, though.

So here's the thing: I thought about writing a lengthy rebuttal to this article but you know, it's not all that. It's not even all that original. Model minorities have been playing the support role in this Save the Doomed Western Family drama for some time now.

Moreover, if you're reading this column, odds are you're already thoroughly familiar with the potentially horrific effects of Chua's parenting style. It's all around you in your community, and you have friends who are falling apart. But perhaps you are currently too traumatized to explain, for other people's benefit, why they should not purchase and follow her childrearing manual.

If so, I'll try to help by providing a few pithy rejoinders.

Rejoinder number one: It's a high-stakes gamble.

Sometimes this gamble pays off in the long run. And when it does, as another blogger's response has pointed out, it makes you rich. Neurosurgeons, corporate attorneys, and investment bankers have plenty-rich parents, you betcha. And let's be honest here, Asian America does have a disproportionately high number of MDs, JDs, and MBAs. Like I said, school's not that hard if.

But sometimes you lose this gamble, and when you lose, you lose big. Because you've gone all-in. Left the kid no room to make friends, no identity outside of your ambitions, no tools or skills with which to make his or her own decisions in life without you -- and no margin of error.

You have raised this kid to believe that the kind of kid who fails at something is not the kind of kid you want. You have most likely said so to him or her, in no uncertain terms. If you can't have a child worth rubbing in your friends' faces, you'd rather have no child at all. And, your kid believes this of you. Because -- not every day, and maybe never all of you -- but in some part of your heart it's true: you would throw your child away.

Kids can't be bluffed, you know. The threats only work if, in some terrifying corner, you mean them.

As others have pointed out, Chua's kids are still young.

Which leads me to rejoinder number two: We'll see.

* * *

More responses (embedded above: Betty Ming Liu, Nikkei View, and Resist Racism):

Angry Asian Man

Racialicious

Quora (Christine Lu)

Rice Daddies

8Asians

Asian Pop

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Disgrasian

not that kind of asian doctor

Asian Am lit fans

 

p.s. Thanks to our readers for sending the article this way.

Ask a Model Minority Suicide is a Hyphen series on mental health. Introductory post here. Resource Guide here. Go here to see all posts in this series.

Comments, questions, or stories can be posted below -- or sent privately to Sam at aamms[at]hyphenmagazine[dot]com.

 

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Andre M. Smith wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

Professor Chua is a woefully

Professor Chua is a woefully ill-informed parent, one ignorant of just what is happening in some parts of education in America. Fully confident in her presumed success as a writer with an editorial staff at Penguin shadow boxing for her and unapologetically wearing her signature plastic smile for public appearances, the Lawyer Chua is trying to persuade and convince; on both counts controversially, but with enough negative reactions to cause her subsequently to attempt a dilution of the intensity in her initial self-congratulatory tirade by latterly asserting that her writing is merely one person’s experiences of some trying times in motherhood. To gain working points among the Old-Boy network, the prime lubricant of Yale, Professor Chua initially claimed that she is a Tiger Mom as Chinese maternal type; Fierce! When that showpiece veneer didn’t sit well with mothers who are the real thing, i.e., mothers from China, this faux cat altered the validity of her claim to violence by stating that she is a Tiger Mom because she was born in 1962, a Year of the Tiger. That a tenured Professor of Yale can – must? – openly justify her self-classification with superstitious underpinning should provide anyone what is needed to draw a conclusion about the level of intellect afoot in Yale Law School. Professor? Indeed!

Any of Chua’s public statements of the purposes of her work evolve to fit the tenor of the evolving criticisms directed at it. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/10/amy-chua-tiger-mom-book-one-yea... It has passed, in her own words, from (1) practical handbook for parenting to (2) tongue-in-cheek (whatever that’s supposed to mean), to (3) memoir, (4) satire, (5) parody, (6) “a coming of age book for parents” (7) “the book is about a journey”; and who knows what else as she makes the rounds of the book circuit trying to snare yet more unsuspecting purchasers into her net. That she can, without blushing, class a single work with such a range causes me to wonder what kind of grade she got at Harvard for her command of the English language. She’s Trollope (the author), Pope (the author), The Wicked Witch in Hansel und Gretel and Gullible’s Travels all penned together into one oversized Pamper. Anyone who can’t read the monetary cynicism driving the kaleidoscope of this whole Tiger Mom scam and its spurious, unproven claimed insights into parenting, with variant latter-day reflections by the author herself, deserves to have paid full retail price for this book.

“What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it.” http://bettymingliu.com/2011/01/parents-like-amy-chua-are-the-reason-why...
Stamp collecting, fishing, lazing about on a summer day, science club, Brownie Scouting, baseball, birthday parties, church annual picnic, kite flying, visiting relatives, kissing, jumping rope, student council, insect classification . . . Away with this woman! “Fun” must be one of the more overused, misunderstood words in the American lexicon. Chinese parent = The Model Minority? In China?

“I’m happy to be the one hated.” http://bettymingliu.com/2011/01/parents-like-amy-chua-are-the-reason-why...

“If I could push a magic button and choose either happiness or success for my children, I’d choose happiness in a second. http://amychua.com/

That’s it perfectly stated in Tigerese: Either / Or; not both. Amy Chua is a chameleonic con artist. PT. Barnum certainly was right, one “. . . born every minute!”

Andre M. Smith wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

I believe some useful purpose

I believe some useful purpose will be served by offering here, what the lawyers might like to call, but will seldom welcome, a healthy second opinion; a collective opinion that will demonstrate in abbreviated form the absolute folly of any attempt to teach music to children in the manner advocated by Amy Chua and her supporters.

These titles, with a few accompanying comments, should be read only as an introduction to a vast, interesting subject. There is one observation one can make about them all, and many more on this same subject, if needed to prove the point: Their attempt at an inherent humane understanding. I shall let the individual writers speak for themselves. To wit:

C. C. Liu [fellow at the Centre of Asian Studies, The University of Hong Kong]: A Critical History of New Music in China, Columbia University Press, 2010.
By the end of the nineteenth century, Chinese culture had fallen into a stasis, and intellectuals began to go abroad for new ideas. What emerged was an exciting musical genre that C. C. Liu terms “new music. With no direct ties to traditional Chinese music, “new music” reflects the compositional techniques and musical idioms of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European styles. Liu traces the genesis and development of “new music” throughout the twentieth century, deftly examining the social and political forces that shaped “new music” and its uses by political activists and the government. http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-962-996-360-6/a-critical-history-of-new...
___________________

Brahmstedt’s China travels bring recognition: TTU [Tennessee Technical University] trumpet professor “Outstanding foreigner.” http://www.tntech.edu/pressreleases/brahmstedts-china-travels-bring-reco...
___________________

Music Education in China: A look at primary school music education in China reveals numerous recent developments in general music, band and string programs, and private lessons. Music Educators Journal May 1997 83:28-52, doi:10.2307/3399021. Full Text (PDF)
___________________

Howard Brahmstedt and Patricia Brahmstedt: Music education in China. Music Educators Journal 83(6):28-30, 52. May 1997.
___________________

Joseph Kahn and Daniel J. Wakin: Classical music looks toward China with hope. The New York Time, 3 April 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/03/arts/music/03class1.htm?pagewanted=all
___________________

Ho Wai-Ching: A comparative study of music education in Shanghai and Taipei: Westernization and nationalization. A Journal of Comparative and International Education 34:2, 2004.
___________________

Yuri Ishii and Mari Shiobara: Teachers’ role in the transition and transmission of culture. Journal of Education for Teaching 34(4):245-9, November 2008.
There are some common trends, which indicate that certain values are now shared among music education policies of many Asian countries. These are an emphasis on the purpose of education as the development of children’s total human quality rather than mere transmission of skills and knowledge by rote learning, the encouragement of a learner-centered approach, the introduction of authentic assessment, the integration of existing subjects, and the assertion of cultural specificity.
___________________

Chee-Hoo Lim: An historical perspective on the Chinese Americans in American music education. Research in Music Education May 2009 vol. 27 no. 2 27-37.
___________________

Howard Brahmstedt: Trumpet playing in China. P. 29. International Trumpet Guild Journal, February 1993.
___________________

Richard Curt Kraus: Pianos and politics in China. Middle-class ambitions and the struggle over Western music. Oxford University Press. New York, 1989.
___________________

From Shanghai Conservatory to Temple University
Yiyue Zhang holds both Bachelors and Masters in Music Education from Shanghai Conservatory of Music in China. Currently, she is pursuing a Master’s degree in Music Education at Temple University. Ms. Zhang is from a family of music. She first learned Chinese classic dance from her father at the age of 3. She then started to learn accordion at the age of 5 and piano at the age of 6. During the close to 20 years of piano training and education, she has also been learning saxophone, cello, vocal music and percussion instrument of Chinese ethnic nationalities. In addition to piano solo, Ms. Zhang has rich experiences as a piano accompanist for vocal and chorus performances. When she served as the accompanist for the female choir of Shanghai Conservatory in 2006, they participated in the Fourth World Chorus Competition and won the gold medal for female choir, silver medal for contemporary music and another silver medal for theological music. Before came the United States, Ms. Zhang taught general music at Shanghai Hongqiao Middle School and Shanghai North Fujian Rd. Primary School as her internship in 2006. From 2006 to 2008, she taught piano and music class in Shanghai Tong-de-meng Kindergarten while held Chinese Teacher Qualification Certificate. Ms. Zhang is currently the piano accompanist of Chinese Musical Voices located at Cherry Hill, NJ as well as the assistant conductor of Guanghua Chorus located at Blue Bell, PA. While holding Early Childhood Music Master Certification (Level 1) from The Gordon Institute for Music Learning, she is also actively engaged in the educational and cultural activities with the networks of local Chinese schools in the Philadelphia area. http://www.temple.edu/boyer/music/programs/musiced/MusicEducationGraduat...
___________________

Li Ying-ling: Essential study on the function of children’s music education.
Music education is beneficial in the comprehensive development of children’s healthy personality, helpful to enlighten the children’s creative thinking, helpful to educate the regulation senses of children, helpful to develop the children’s language and good emotion. It has certain social effect and realistic meaning for the growth of children. Every teacher should pay attention to the functional character of children music education, consciously meet the demands for music education of the children nowadays, strengthen the socialization function of music education, promote socialization proceeding of children. Music Department of Kunming University. Journal of Kunming University 2:2009.
___________________

André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
Formerly Bass Trombonist
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

Andre M. Smith wrote 2 years 13 weeks ago

Amy Chua

Continuing to follow the saga of what may be one of the more outrageous examples – and there are similar examples aplenty! – of the child abuses of Amy Chua, I think it timely and prudent to provide a healthy, humane counterpoint by way of a much different kind of example of adult guidance to a young stranger. To wit:

ADVICE TO A YOUNG PERSON INTERESTED IN A CAREER IN THE LAW

In May 1954, M. Paul Claussen, Jr, a 12-year-old boy living in Alexandria, Virginia, sent a letter to Mr Justice Felix Frankfurter in which he wrote that he was interested in “going into the law as a career” and requested advice as to “some ways to start preparing myself while still in junior high school.” This is the reply he received:

My Dear Paul:
No one can be a truly competent lawyer unless he is a cultivated man. If I were you I would forget about any technical preparation for the law. The best way to prepare for the law is to be a well-read person. Thus alone can one acquire the capacity to use the English language on paper and in speech and with the habits of clear thinking which only a truly liberal education can give. No less important for a lawyer is the cultivation of the imaginative faculties by reading poetry, seeing great paintings, in the original or in easily available reproductions, and listening to great music. Stock your mind with the deposit of much good reading, and widen and deepen your feelings by experiencing vicariously as much as possible the wonderful mysteries of the universe, and forget about your future career.
With good wishes,
Sincerely yours,
[signed] Felix Frankfurter

From THE LAW AS LITERATURE, ed. by Ephraim London, Simon and Schuster, 1960.
__________________

I knew that a Paul Claussen had been a major figure (1972-2007) in the Office of the Historian of The United States Department of State in Washington, with an abiding interest in The Great Seal of The United States. http://diplomacy.state.gov/documents/organization/101044.pdf
An obituary of Dr Claussen is on page 47 in http://2001-2009.state.gov/documents/organization/86414.pdf
and http://www.thefreelibrary.com/M.+Paul+Claussen,+history's+friend%3A+office+of+the+historian+suffers+a…-a0167843232

So, wishing to determine whether or not the elder Claussen was, indeed, the boy writing to Justice Frankfurter in 1954 I wrote to his former colleague at State. The reply received today follows.

—– Original Message —–
From: PA History Mailbox
To: ‘Andre M. Smith’
Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 10:11 AM
Subject: RE: Chris Morrison

Dear Mr. Smith,

Copied below is the response I received from one of Paul Claussen’s long-time colleagues here in the Office of the Historian.

Yes it is. The young Paul wanted to be a lawyer and so decided to write Felix Frankfurter and ask for his advice. Frankfurter evidently was taken with his letter and wrote back at length…Frankfurter of course kept a copy and the text of the letter has been published in collections of Frankfurter’s writings.

Please contact us of you have any additional questions.

Best regards,
Chris

Christopher A. Morrison, Ph.D.
Historian, Policy Studies Division
U.S. Department of State
Office of the Historian (PA/HO)
_________________________________

Dr Claussen did follow the advice of Justice Frankfurter. And he came out of that advice none the worse for it. The world is much bigger, richer, more tolerant, and more laden with opportunities than the blinkered view of Amy Chua would have her daughters and fellow fear-laden mothers without Ivy League tenure believe.

For a very well-balanced alternative to the mania – and it is nothing less – to which the many Chuas of the world subscribe, read the refreshingly informed reports on http://orient.bowdoin.edu/orient/article.php?date=2009-12-04&section=3&id=2, http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/09/28/china, and http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/10/16/liberalarts
________________________

André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
Formerly Bass Trombonist
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

P.I.K wrote 2 years 14 weeks ago

Amy Chua are you that close minded as a Ivy League Professor?

Lets set things straight. Amy Chua has basically tired to shut down Asian American progression in the United States.
As an Asian American, I see that her views are very close- minded. I am surprised how a Harvard graduate in both the College and Law School and now a Yale professor would celebrate this type of teaching and would not be proud of people who don't follow traditional values(to name a few: Jeremy Lin with basketball, Wong Fu Productions with Internet Entertainment, and etc.)
Its so hilarious to see how people like me who is passionate about acting and singing would be frowned upon. That is why many stereotypes of Asians come up and gives us a hard time with trying to establish ourselves as a new uprising group in America.
Other than that, this type of teaching is actually ruled by fear and have been responsible for almost destroying my family's relationship with each other. For families to have great relationships with one another, it needs to be through understanding and progression.
-Progression is Key.
P.S. Even though her child got into Harvard. Just look at Amy Chua's history and her husbands history and you might look at why her child got in. This method of teaching does is truly a gamble to others.

Andre M. Smith wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Amy Chua

Why is the art of music required to endure the ill-informed antics of such inartistic imbeciles as Amy Chua? Her lust for fame as an old-fashioned stage mother of either a famous violinist (yet another mechanical Sarah Chang?) or a famous pianist (yet another mechanical Lang Lang?) shines through what she perceives as devotion to the cultivation of the cultural sensitivities of her two unfortunate daughters.

Daughter Lulu at age 7 is unable to play compound rhythms from Jacques Ibert with both hands coordinated? Leonard Bernstein couldn't conduct this at age 50! And he isn't the only musician of achievement with this-or-that shortcoming. We all have our closets with doors that are not always fully opened.

And why all this Chinese obsession unthinkingly dumped on violin and piano? What do the parents with such insistence know of violin and piano repertoire? Further, what do they know of the great body of literature for flute? For French horn? For organ? For trumpet? Usually, nothing!

For pressure-driven (not professionally-driven!) parents like Amy Chua their children, with few exceptions, will remain little more than mechanical sidebars to the core of classical music as it's practiced by musicians with a humanistic foundation.

Professor Chua better be socking away a hefty psychoreserve fund in preparation for the care and feeding of her two little lambs once it becomes clear to them both just how empty and ill-defined with pseudo-thorough grounding their emphasis has been on so-called achievement.

Read more about this widespread, continuing problem in Forbidden Childhood (N.Y., 1957) by Ruth Slenczynska.
______________________

André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
Formerly Bass Trombonist
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
Leopold Stokowski's American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

good chinese mother wrote 3 years 10 weeks ago

I have read Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother

The book could very well be Amy Chua's self-assessment of her parenting. Instead of doing it in private, she chose to do it in public by writing a memoir.

Now, when one's children are barely out of high school, writing a memoir extolling the virtues of a particular way of parenting can have very serious consequences for the author's children. There is now the expectation for the children to be successful according to the parent's definition of success, and that expectation is no longer coming from the parent alone, but from the readers as well.

People who have read the book will be watching the children closely to determine if the suggested parenting method has indeed been effective or not. For example, will her eldest daughter be offered admissions by Ivy League colleges?

Whether they like it or not, Amy Chua's daughters now have the burden of either proving their mother right in how she chose to raise them, or of demonstrating that her methods did not do them any lasting harm.

Either way, it must be no picnic being Amy Chua's daughters.

www.the goodchinesemother.wordpress.com

Not Ibid. wrote 3 years 11 weeks ago

Response from the child of more moderate Chinese parents

Thank you for your thoughtful, honest post. I believe there are a range of "Chinese" parenting styles, some totally extreme and some echoing Amy Chua's perspective while not going quite so far. As for me, I was raised by relatively moderate Chinese immigrant parents, and I still ended up with a lot of feelings exposed by Chua's memoir (duty, guilt, doubt). My blog response is here if anyone is interested: http://notibid.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/the-wrawyer/

Maggie wrote 3 years 11 weeks ago

Hello! I read your first post

Hello! I read your first post and this one (and am meaning to read the other ones when I get a chance). I hope this link provides some useful information for the debate about whether/not the data concerning suicidal ideation amongst young Asian American women are skewed: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090817190650.htm.

Ask a Model Min... wrote 3 years 11 weeks ago

thanks, Maggie

Looks like I need to devote a whole post to this soon.

Anonymousse wrote 3 years 12 weeks ago

Asian American suicide statistics

This is in reply to the comment. http://hyphenmagazine.com/blog/archive/2011/01/why-chinese-mothers-are-s...  (I don't see a comment reply button.)

Thanks for your reply.

On the topic of the suicide statistics, I would ask people to please fact check and not be misled by how statistics are framed.

The statistic that's being much publicized and passed around like a bad telephone game from many articles that do not even cite sources, about the suicide rate of Asian American females ages 15-24 being high or highest, is misleading and even false.

http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/content.aspx?ID=6476

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/hus.htm (Table 42)

Asian American females ages 15-24 have similar rates of suicide as white females ages 15-24.  Some years it is lower.  Some years it is higher.  Not significantly different.  Native American females have the highest rate among females ages 15-24.

Female suicide rates are much lower than male suicide rates across the board.  Asian American males ages 15-24 have a suicide rate that is 2-3 times higher than Asian American females ages 15-24.  So why is everyone focusing on females?

However, Asian American males ages 15-24 have the lowest suicide rate for males ages 15-24.

On the other measures of mental health, such as psychological distress and depressive symptoms, Asian Americans have lower rates than average across the board.

Of course, any suicide rate or depression is not acceptable.  It doesn't have to be higher than average or highest among races to talk about it.  We as a community should have this discussion without misrepresenting the statistics in terms of race and gender.

Ask a Model Min... wrote 3 years 12 weeks ago

Important.

Thanks for calling this to my attention, A.  The discrepancies are confusing and in discussions like these, it is in fact important to get the claims straight.  I'll look further, ask around, and check back in.

Anonymousse wrote 3 years 12 weeks ago

Wall Street Tabloid

Yes, we were ill-used in this publicity stunt.  Whether Amy Chua had a hand in it or if it was just between the WSJ and the publisher is not clear.  The "excerpt" was edited very intentionally, line by line, section by section, to remove all the lines that were there for comic effect that indicated it was satirical.

The WSJ ran a piece of racial trickery, negative stereotype, took the entire nation for a ride, wasted our time and energy, and their Life & Culture section has read like a tabloid this past week, capitalizing on China-phobia crossed with Mommy Wars.  While everyone is winding down the angry buzz over Amy Chua's book since we now realize it was misrepresented, think about how much you used your voice on that, and are you now going to go quietly and let the WSJ screw Asian Americans around like that?

Some commenters below were calling for a boycott of the book before.  Well, I am no longer reading the WSJ.

Ask a Model Min... wrote 3 years 12 weeks ago

true, but.

I agree with your stance, and certainly think a boycott is not out of order, to send the message that it is unacceptable for the various publishing industries to play fast and loose with their readers like this.

Agreed, too, that the broad trend of exoneration Asian Am media (especially! less so non-Asian responders) seem to have given Chua is dismaying: many seem to have let her entirely off the hook. I continue to hold her accountable for her part -- and do not buy her "naive Yale lawyer and previously-published author victim" pose. 

But, this column is not about Chua. And so I'd like to get back to the larger issues that the column *is* about -- and that her piece has been, admittedly, useful in igniting in public discourse. Asian Am mental health is front of mind in the community now, and even a blip on the mainstream radar, because of controversy over her piece. The CDC announcement of suicide statistics started this conversation, but it's been ramped up quite a few notches in the last week. As some of the other AsAm bloggers are now saying (http://www.k12newsnetwork.com/2011/01/dear-asian-america-forget-chuas-book-this-is-our-it-gets-better-moment/), and as this column was itself set up to do, let's address Asian families/parenting, overachievement/the model minority mold, and their impacts on the 2nd generation now -- quite aside from Chua.

My mission here is to help people who've been on the striking end of that parenting stick (whether or not they're now thinking of being parents -- often not, precisely because of their upbringings), talk and think and make sense of their experiences, and maybe find a way to live better.

And I'd like to see us tackle these issues, for the first time please, without the gag order against making "our community" look bad. Sometimes "our community" demands that we protect the wrong people. I'd rather my friends live than that their parents (or progressive Asian America) save face.

If there's a boycott or other form of protest you want to organize around Chua/WSJ, you have my support. But she doesn't get to take over this column; it's a more important space than that.

 

a wrote 3 years 12 weeks ago
BettyMingLiu wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago

beyond amy chua - we've been conned by confucius

thank you so much for including a link to my rant on this superior chinese mothers issue. based on the reaction, i've moved onto the larger problem in my new blog post: "forget amy chua. bigger fish to stir-fry. i've been conned by confucius."

http://bettymingliu.com/2011/01/forget-amy-chua-bigger-fish-to-stir-fry-...

hope you'll have a look. instead of focusing our attention on her, this is a marvelous time for us to address deep, deep tough love problems in our culture. at least, that's how i'm personally dealing with it! thanks again for the support.  :-)

Ask a Model Min... wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago

book vs. essay

Hi, everyone.  I've just obtained a copy of the book to check out for myself, and will come back with a report.  But Jeff Yang's take on things is pretty steady; I expect I'll find something not too far off from his description -- and so yes, probably more nuanced, funnier, more human and with a different, more tempered message.

However, that doesn't mean that the WSJ piece should not have been judged on its own merit.  It was edited into a piece to be circulated and read as a stand-alone; in other words, whatever mysterious entity shaped it did so with the knowledge that a great many (if not most) readers of the article would never buy and read the book.

If there is a major disconnect between the book and the article purported to represent it in excerpt -- that disconnect is not the READERS' fault.  We were, if anything, somewhat ill-used in this publicity stunt.

 

Ask a Model Min... wrote 3 years 12 weeks ago

no change

Alright, so I've finished the book and it's as expected. Descriptions from Yang et al. are accurate. And though the responses rage on, I've nothing new to add that 12 other people aren't already saying.

But I stand behind my comments above and this blog post itself as fair and valid responses to the essay. 

M wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago

READ THE BOOK!

Her essay IS tongue-in-cheek.  It's the first chapter of the book, which I'm reading now. 

First, the book's subtitle reads: "This is a story about a mother, two daugheters, and two dogs.  This was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones.  But instead, it's about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how I was humbled by a thirteen-year-old."

The language instantly reveals that this book is much more subtly nuanced than the WSJ article leads us to believe.  This isn't a parenting guide, self-help, or advice.  It's a memoir of Chua's parenting struggles, and it's pretty well done--so far in the portions that I've read.

The WSJ article was taken out of context of the rest of the book.  That first chapter is meant to be outrageous.  It's where Chua started her parenting philosophy, and the rest of the book chronicles her failures and ultimate change in parenting style.

Please don't call for book boycotts when you haven't read it!  The book is much more nuanced, self-critical, self-depricating, and reflective than the WSJ article would ever let on.  It seems now an obvious publicity stunt to stir up controversy, conversation, and book sales. 

I know the topic and the essay raise hugely painful issues for so many Asian American children raised by super strict, emotionally detached, demanding, and bragging parents.  I myself felt outraged thinking about my Chinese mom when I read this, and realized I haven't gotten over some of her parenting choices.  I think readers who give the book a chance will find it doesn't reinscribe their pain, but actually validates it, and tries to show a mother struggling with her parenting in ways mine never did.

Anonymous wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago

Check out the article from

Check out the article from Jeff Yang, who actually talked to Chua. Seems there's a bigger issue with how the Wall Street Journal chose to cover the book: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=%2Fg%2Fa%2F2011%2F01%2F13%2Fapop011311.DTL

Anonymous wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago
good chinese mother wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago

Challenging Chua

Dear Ms. Chua, I am a Chinese mother, but unlike you, I encouraged my daughter to enjoy all the activities you prohibited. And still, she scored 2340 on the SAT, 60 points off perfect, and got accepted by Harvard, Princeton and Yale. It will be interesting to see if your methods can produce the same results. Good Chinese Mother www.thegoodchinesemother.wordpress.com

Hugo de Naranja wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago

Crazy

I always start feeling very very crazy whenever people bandy about terms such as "Asian" or "Chinese" as if their meaning were self-evident.

And I think feeling crazy is the healthy, normal response when we're required to pretend that something's true when we know it's demonstrably false.

I can but wonder at the mysterious workings of Ms. Chua's inner life that allow her to apply "Chinese" to her parenting style when she's no doubt aware of the vast cultural, geographic, religious, historical, and linguistic diversity contained in that one simple adjective.

A far more interesting book would have been one in which Ms. Chua carefully dissected the reasons why she believes her parenting style to be "Chinese."

And this dissection would have certainly revealed a great many specifics about the particular multi-generational journey that, so far, has brought Ms. Chua to Yale, and to a part-time career as advocate for Martinet Mommy child-rearing practices.

And the many specifics of this journey would have given Ms. Chua's readers, Chinese and non-Chinese, a fascinating and valuable glimpse of the incredible depth and texture of all the possible meanings contained within the word "Chinese."

But Ms. Chua instead opted for self-contradiction and self-betrayal.

While ruthlessly imposing perfectionist self-discipline on her daughters, Ms. Chua opted to publish a shallow, poorly reasoned work that shows no respect whatsoever for rigorous scholarship, or even for the minimal self-discipline necessary for giving honorable testimony in a popular format.

I fear Ms. Chua isn't aware that the example she's setting for her daughters is somewhat at odds with what she believes it to be.

 

 

 

Anonymous wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago

Chua's book

Can we organize a boycott of this book?  I personally don't even intend to order it from the library;  I don't want anyone anywhere to have any incentive to give this woman a dime.

I work with lawyers and judges, many of whom have adult children who are highly successful, and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM  agrees that Chua's methods are abusive.  I reduced a judge almost to tears when I told them about how Chau told her daughter she was garbage and threw a birthday card back at her.

beep wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago

This definitely rings a bell

This definitely rings a bell to my own childhood and relationship to my family. The thing is, I'm not Asian-American at all, nor with Russian parents. Any parent who is sufficiently unhappy with their own life can project their aim at success on their children and go through the EXACT same principles.

As others have said, beware of what becomes your mother/child relationship once your child is grown-up...

Cynthia wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago

Amy Chua's Book on Model Minority Parenting...

Tempest in a Green-Tea Pot?

Asian American feminist "mom-blogger" here (yes, there are some), and my big question is: Why would you parent exactly like your own parents did when there are better tools now at your disposal?

http://technorati.com/women/article/amy-chuas-book-on-model-minority/

But then again, isn't that so "Model Minority"? Book smart, but with an Emotional Intelligence Quotient of 3?

Ask a Model Min... wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago

excellent question

Hi, Cynthia.  Enjoyed your post -- esp. the last page.

And agreed:  one of the most dismaying things for me when I first read the essay was the realization that Chua is SECOND generation, not first.  I'd hoped this kind of parenting was specific to the hardship immigrant generation -- but apparently not.  That "we" in the 2nd gen are just as capable of it, is a terrible thought.

Anonymous wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago

So glad you wrote this rebuttal

I guess the only grain of interestingness in this new book is the contrasting between parenting styles. There is indeed a difference, and I'm a mixed race kid and I know my (Asian) mom's somewhat strictness helped me.  Have manners, be responsible, look after myself, see the consequences of my actions. 

HOWEVER, my mother was raised SUPER strict and she sought some balance in my upbringing.  While I had to study, happiness was valued too. My self-worth was not based on Ivy League acceptance (thank God, cuz I didn't even try, haha).  Now, meeting many of the children of those super driven nutty crazy east Asian new immigrant parents as my peers... they're hurting and suffering inside. Sometimes the remembered cultural values get all distorted and made more extreme.  Sometimes I'll venture to say that people are taking their stress of emigrating out on their kids.  That's not right. You gotta be happy at some point. 

 

Elise wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago

I wanted to think her essay

I wanted to think her essay was somewhat tongue-in-cheek (though poorly-executed). I think it was valuable in many ways for exploring a different framing of how high expectations can lead to success.

But I was also horrified when I read the piano story... because that happened to me, and to my younger brother. And in a sense it worked -- I learned to play the piano although i never loved it (or even liked it). I got straight-As. I'm mostly happy, sane, and mentally healthy -- but I see your point. And I see how the piece becomes scary when read as fact instead of humor.

I don't know if we can say that this kind of parental pressure usually causes (or is likely to cause) mental illness is most AA young people, though. That's a really strong claim. Do you have national-scale statistical information about mental health outcomes?

Ask a Model Min... wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago

statistics

Hi, Elise.  Unfortunately there's not a whole lot of research demonstrating this yet -- but I suspect there soon will be.  The figures about the alarming suicide rate among Asian American women 15-24 came out only a few years ago, but since then the topic has been getting attention it needs and never saw before.  Check out the comment threads on the various websites responding to Chua, though, and you'll see pressure and depression paired over and over again.  See also this: 

http://www.sfwar.org/pdf/Suicide/SUI_CNN_05_07.pdf

Thanks for reading.

grace wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago

Asian American parents, this is NOT a how-to book!

As an second gen Asian American and parent of young children, I'm so sad that some people will inevitably take this book as a parenting manual, just as many people (my smart, advanced degree AA peers) read Malcolm Gladwell's 'Outliers' as sort of an advice book.

However, as an Asian who is also married to a mainstream white American, I do think there are some positives to the stricter style of Chinese parenting... it is effective in instilling work ethic and trying for goals, but too often at too great an emotional toll.

Before, I get too far into this, I will read the book (hoping to get a copy from Penguin Press, as I'm not really sure I need to add to the coffers of a Yale lawyer) before I make a judgement. Then again, she might have a lot of therapy bills in the future.

Grace Hwang Lynch blogs about raising mixed race Asian kids at www.hapamama.com

Ask a Model Min... wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago

Glad you'll be getting a free

Glad you'll be getting a free review copy, Grace.   :)

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About The Author

Ask a Model Minority Suicide

Sam is an alias, of course, but for a real person. Feel free to contact her directly at aamms[at]hyphenmagazine[dot]com.

 

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