That's the title of the Wall Street Journal's most e-mailed article for the past week — which has received nearly 4,000 comments and nearly 200,000 Facebook "likes." But not without some serious questioning of the parenting techniques described.
"A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids," Amy Chua, a professor at Yale University Law School, said. "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."
So Chua is kind enough to share what she believes worked for her in her parenting techniques. They include "never" allowing her daughters to:
• attend a sleepover
• have a playdate
• be in a school play
• watch TV or play computer games
• choose their own extracurricular activities
• get any grade less than an A
• play any instrument other than the piano or violin
Sound stringent? Chua argues that "What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it." She writes that she knows that she is supporting stereotypes, but the data also proves it. "In one study of 50 Western American mothers and 48 Chinese immigrant mothers, almost 70% of the Western mothers said either that 'stressing academic success is not good for children' or that 'parents need to foster the idea that learning is fun'," she writes. "By contrast, roughly 0% of the Chinese mothers felt the same way."
Students from the Alhambra Source Youth Feed read the essay, and gave feedback based on their experiences with mothers, Chinese and not.
Alan Tam: It describes pretty accurately the methodology of Chinese parenting skills I saw growing up. Every day I had to come home and memorize Chinese characters. I tried to find every excuse not to do it. Every weekend my mother would sit me and my siblings down at the dining room table. She would sit across from us sewing clothes and make sure we were memorizing our multiplication tables. It backfired: it just taught me to really hate math and I did terrible in Chinese class.
Victoria Gavia: I think that this piece is very comical in some aspects because it’s a really typical portrayal of what both Asians and non-Asians consider to be an “Asian parent”. But, I have to say that it may be an over generalization that this kind of behavior is unique only to Asian parents. I say this because my mom exhibits some of the same “qualities” of caring very much about good, perfect grades and strict on behavior.
James Ho: What I think she missed is that many Chinese parents are immigrants, and fall into the typical immigrant experience. Chinese parents have a deep-seeded belief that education will improve your life and make you successful and that's compounded by the fact that they didn't have opportunities. That's why they're so strict and feel it's necessary to use those methods. They sacrificed a lot to get to America and offer their children opportunities. If you're not focusing your time studying, it's one of the biggest wastes.
Yvonne Lee: Chua’s explanation behind the motives of these Chinese mothers really describes my mother’s behavior: I firmly agree that Chinese mothers or parents think being blunt and candid is the best way to approach a situation.