|Amy Chua and daughters. Photo taken by Erin Patrice O’Brien for the Wall Street Journal|
Unless you were a young mom, exhausted from lack of sleep, barely aware of the outside world except for valued Facebook updates that make you feel a little connected, you probably heard about the Tiger Mom during the early months of 2011. Amy Chua is the Tiger Mom and a law professor at Yale. She boldly chronicled her mothering techniques in a book called Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother. In the book she explains why Chinese parenting is different and even incompatible with western parenting, making statements like, “I’ve noticed that Western parents are extremely anxious about their children’s self-esteem. They worry about how their children will feel if they fail at something, and they constantly try to reassure their children about how good they are notwithstanding a mediocre performance on a test or at a recital. In other words, Western parents are concerned about their children’s psyches. Chinese parents aren’t. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.”
Chua took a beating from horrified parents who didn’t like her parenting style. While I would not adopt some her techniques, reading her book was inspiring. It reminded me to push my kids toward excellence, especially in areas they have natural skill. It reminded me that sometimes, I focus too much on the feelings of my girls and not enough on giving them the skills and hard work ethic they need as adults. Though Chua wasn’t motivated by faith, her philosophy reminded me of Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men,” Unless we push them, kids growing up in current American culture will learn that half-hearted efforts at unpleasant task are acceptable; their peers will encourage it and most adults will accept it. Our culture needs more of Chua’s philosophy in its approach to kids. Tiger Mother is an engaging read, worth your time. If you don’t love Chua’s personality, remember she is a different person now than when she began mothering. The same will be true for us, unless we are so arogant that we refuse to admit mistakes.
The fueling article today is an article Chua wrote in the Wall Street Journal right before her book reached the stores. I’ve also included an article her oldest daughter wrote in response to all the criticism her mother received after the book was published.
Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior by Amy Chua
Why I Love My Strict Chinese Mom by Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld
Amy Chua Responds to Readers a Q &A style article