Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior

The Wall Street Journal
The Saturday Essay
JANUARY 8, 2011

Can a regimen of no playdates, no TV, no computer games and hours of music practice create happy kids? And what happens when they fight back?


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.

I’m using the term “Chinese mother” loosely. I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers, by choice or otherwise. I’m also using the term “Western parents” loosely. Western parents come in all varieties.

All the same, even when Western parents think they’re being strict, they usually don’t come close to being Chinese mothers. For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments 30 minutes every day. An hour at most. For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part. It’s hours two and three that get tough.

Despite our squeamishness about cultural stereotypes, there are tons of studies out there showing marked and quantifiable differences between Chinese and Westerners when it comes to parenting. 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.” By contrast, roughly 0% of the Chinese mothers felt the same way. Instead, the vast majority of the Chinese mothers said that they believe their children can be “the best” students, that “academic achievement reflects successful parenting,” and that if children did not excel at school then there was “a problem” and parents “were not doing their job.” Other studies indicate that compared to Western parents, Chinese parents spend approximately 10 times as long every day drilling academic activities with their children. By contrast, Western kids are more likely to participate in sports teams.

What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences. This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up. But if done properly, the Chinese strategy produces a virtuous circle. Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America. Once a child starts to excel at something—whether it’s math, piano, pitching or ballet—he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun. This in turn makes it easier for the parent to get the child to work even more.

Chinese parents can get away with things that Western parents can’t. Once when I was young—maybe more than once—when I was extremely disrespectful to my mother, my father angrily called me “garbage” in our native Hokkien dialect. It worked really well. I felt terrible and deeply ashamed of what I had done. But it didn’t damage my self-esteem or anything like that. I knew exactly how highly he thought of me. I didn’t actually think I was worthless or feel like a piece of garbage.

As an adult, I once did the same thing to Sophia, calling her garbage in English when she acted extremely disrespectfully toward me. When I mentioned that I had done this at a dinner party, I was immediately ostracized. One guest named Marcy got so upset she broke down in tears and had to leave early. My friend Susan, the host, tried to rehabilitate me with the remaining guests.

The fact is that Chinese parents can do things that would seem unimaginable—even legally actionable—to Westerners. Chinese mothers can say to their daughters, “Hey fatty—lose some weight.” By contrast, Western parents have to tiptoe around the issue, talking in terms of “health” and never ever mentioning the f-word, and their kids still end up in therapy for eating disorders and negative self-image. (I also once heard a Western father toast his adult daughter by calling her “beautiful and incredibly competent.” She later told me that made her feel like garbage.)

Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight As. Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best. Chinese parents can say, “You’re lazy. All your classmates are getting ahead of you.” By contrast, Western parents have to struggle with their own conflicted feelings about achievement, and try to persuade themselves that they’re not disappointed about how their kids turned out.

I’ve thought long and hard about how Chinese parents can get away with what they do. I think there are three big differences between the Chinese and Western parental mind-sets.

First, 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.

For example, if a child comes home with an A-minus on a test, a Western parent will most likely praise the child. The Chinese mother will gasp in horror and ask what went wrong. If the child comes home with a B on the test, some Western parents will still praise the child. Other Western parents will sit their child down and express disapproval, but they will be careful not to make their child feel inadequate or insecure, and they will not call their child “stupid,” “worthless” or “a disgrace.” Privately, the Western parents may worry that their child does not test well or have aptitude in the subject or that there is something wrong with the curriculum and possibly the whole school. If the child’s grades do not improve, they may eventually schedule a meeting with the school principal to challenge the way the subject is being taught or to call into question the teacher’s credentials.

If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A.

Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn’t get them, the Chinese parent assumes it’s because the child didn’t work hard enough. That’s why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child. The Chinese parent believes that their child will be strong enough to take the shaming and to improve from it. (And when Chinese kids do excel, there is plenty of ego-inflating parental praise lavished in the privacy of the home.)

Second, Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything. The reason for this is a little unclear, but it’s probably a combination of Confucian filial piety and the fact that the parents have sacrificed and done so much for their children. (And it’s true that Chinese mothers get in the trenches, putting in long grueling hours personally tutoring, training, interrogating and spying on their kids.) Anyway, the understanding is that Chinese children must spend their lives repaying their parents by obeying them and making them proud.

By contrast, I don’t think most Westerners have the same view of children being permanently indebted to their parents. My husband, Jed, actually has the opposite view. “Children don’t choose their parents,” he once said to me. “They don’t even choose to be born. It’s parents who foist life on their kids, so it’s the parents’ responsibility to provide for them. Kids don’t owe their parents anything. Their duty will be to their own kids.” This strikes me as a terrible deal for the Western parent.

Third, Chinese parents believe that they know what is best for their children and therefore override all of their children’s own desires and preferences. That’s why Chinese daughters can’t have boyfriends in high school and why Chinese kids can’t go to sleepaway camp. It’s also why no Chinese kid would ever dare say to their mother, “I got a part in the school play! I’m Villager Number Six. I’ll have to stay after school for rehearsal every day from 3:00 to 7:00, and I’ll also need a ride on weekends.” God help any Chinese kid who tried that one.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s not that Chinese parents don’t care about their children. Just the opposite. They would give up anything for their children. It’s just an entirely different parenting model.

Here’s a story in favor of coercion, Chinese-style. Lulu was about 7, still playing two instruments, and working on a piano piece called “The Little White Donkey” by the French composer Jacques Ibert. The piece is really cute—you can just imagine a little donkey ambling along a country road with its master—but it’s also incredibly difficult for young players because the two hands have to keep schizophrenically different rhythms.
Lulu couldn’t do it. We worked on it nonstop for a week, drilling each of her hands separately, over and over. But whenever we tried putting the hands together, one always morphed into the other, and everything fell apart. Finally, the day before her lesson, Lulu announced in exasperation that she was giving up and stomped off.

“Get back to the piano now,” I ordered.

“You can’t make me.”

“Oh yes, I can.”

Back at the piano, Lulu made me pay. She punched, thrashed and kicked. She grabbed the music score and tore it to shreds. I taped the score back together and encased it in a plastic shield so that it could never be destroyed again. Then I hauled Lulu’s dollhouse to the car and told her I’d donate it to the Salvation Army piece by piece if she didn’t have “The Little White Donkey” perfect by the next day. When Lulu said, “I thought you were going to the Salvation Army, why are you still here?” I threatened her with no lunch, no dinner, no Christmas or Hanukkah presents, no birthday parties for two, three, four years. When she still kept playing it wrong, I told her she was purposely working herself into a frenzy because she was secretly afraid she couldn’t do it. I told her to stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic.

Jed took me aside. He told me to stop insulting Lulu—which I wasn’t even doing, I was just motivating her—and that he didn’t think threatening Lulu was helpful. Also, he said, maybe Lulu really just couldn’t do the technique—perhaps she didn’t have the coordination yet—had I considered that possibility?

“You just don’t believe in her,” I accused.

“That’s ridiculous,” Jed said scornfully. “Of course I do.”

“Sophia could play the piece when she was this age.”

“But Lulu and Sophia are different people,” Jed pointed out.

“Oh no, not this,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Everyone is special in their special own way,” I mimicked sarcastically. “Even losers are special in their own special way. Well don’t worry, you don’t have to lift a finger. I’m willing to put in as long as it takes, and I’m happy to be the one hated. And you can be the one they adore because you make them pancakes and take them to Yankees games.”

I rolled up my sleeves and went back to Lulu. I used every weapon and tactic I could think of. We worked right through dinner into the night, and I wouldn’t let Lulu get up, not for water, not even to go to the bathroom. The house became a war zone, and I lost my voice yelling, but still there seemed to be only negative progress, and even I began to have doubts.

Then, out of the blue, Lulu did it. Her hands suddenly came together—her right and left hands each doing their own imperturbable thing—just like that.

Lulu realized it the same time I did. I held my breath. She tried it tentatively again. Then she played it more confidently and faster, and still the rhythm held. A moment later, she was beaming.

“Mommy, look—it’s easy!” After that, she wanted to play the piece over and over and wouldn’t leave the piano. That night, she came to sleep in my bed, and we snuggled and hugged, cracking each other up. When she performed “The Little White Donkey” at a recital a few weeks later, parents came up to me and said, “What a perfect piece for Lulu—it’s so spunky and so her.”

Even Jed gave me credit for that one. Western parents worry a lot about their children’s self-esteem. But as a parent, one of the worst things you can do for your child’s self-esteem is to let them give up. On the flip side, there’s nothing better for building confidence than learning you can do something you thought you couldn’t.

There are all these new books out there portraying Asian mothers as scheming, callous, overdriven people indifferent to their kids’ true interests. For their part, many Chinese secretly believe that they care more about their children and are willing to sacrifice much more for them than Westerners, who seem perfectly content to let their children turn out badly. I think it’s a misunderstanding on both sides. All decent parents want to do what’s best for their children. The Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that.

Western parents try to respect their children’s individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions, supporting their choices, and providing positive reinforcement and a nurturing environment. By contrast, the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they’re capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.

—Amy Chua is a professor at Yale Law School and author of “Day of Empire” and “World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability.”

  1. #1 by delon85 on Wednesday, 12 January 2011 - 10:55 pm

    Email this to Ibrahim Ali, hes a big fan of Amy Chua

  2. #2 by good coolie on Wednesday, 12 January 2011 - 11:33 pm

    Many good points of parenting were brought up in this article, but the dreaded word “superior” makes me cringe! Before long, we might contract the title, excising “Mothers” to generate, “Why Chinese are Superior”. Nevertheless, allow me to toast the culture of industry that is a general characterestic of overseas Chinese.

  3. #3 by drngsc on Wednesday, 12 January 2011 - 11:40 pm

    It is call discipline. Something lacking in our society nowadays. Without discipline, ‘chinese’ mother or not makes little differerence. In some segments of our society, discipline is severely lacking. The easy come, easy go culture of the subsidy mentality don’t help. Even ‘chinese’ mother should beware of the dangers of giving your children too much. Easy come easy go is bad for character building.

  4. #4 by waterfrontcoolie on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 12:07 am

    Though I may not subscribe to her approach in total she does tell a good degree of truth in a typical Chinese environment. The word ‘ superior’ is not what one has in mind. It is used to reflect certain amount of not wanting to give in easily. Well, without tenacity the Community may not fair so well in a competitive world. It is the norm in our perception that sufficient drilling will help, something like practice makes perfect! As an ex-teacher in the secondary schools, I have no doubt that the Community do have the ‘spatial intelligence’ where figures are concerned. I used to remember a friend of mine,he was so poor in school in practically every subject, including Maths; but when he played cards with us, he had no such setback. A look at the three cards he held he knew exactly the score though he could not add those 3 figures in his exercise book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. #5 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 12:08 am

    With all due respect to the Yale Law School Professor (Amy Chua) and the prestigious Wall Street Journal that publishes what she said, I don’t agree at all with her first generalisation that “Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids” (in the context of comparing against mothers or kids who are Western or Asian of other races….) or the reasons she gave for how the chrildren of Chinese mothers become “successful” whatever she meant buy the word “successful”.

  6. #6 by tak tahan on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 12:19 am

    Don’t be afraid good coolie,be tough and cool.Ask cintanegara more on this,he is so .so. immune to this even within their community.It’s norm la.This pendatang virus spreaded by mamak tetek and gangs since then till now is so ..so..great but littlely affected cintanegara inthe name of NEP.Remember he’ll still get the rambutan fruits even if bolehland shall be bankcrupt by 2019.We are the superior one to eat durians,pork steak,american pork or beef steak and the species of crabs they don’t eat.But he doesn’t know his superiors eat them and even mabuk this and that wains.Pathetic fellow.Shall we leave him alone-by celline dion.Trust me,just don’t bother him but ridicule him and go on with usual life.He is just like perkosa to provoke but nothing else matters-Metallica

  7. #7 by monsterball on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 12:27 am

    I do not agree that Chinese mothers are more superior than others in Malaysia…right now.
    This subject sucks and not important to discuss…asI have witness the vast superior up bringing of many Muslim mothers toward their children today…with joy to know……these will be the Malaysians that will vote change of Govt…as they are also unselfish mothers…besides being equally smart to the Chinese mothers.
    Do not lump racists idiotic Muslims parents with the Muslims that are not UMNO B members at all..ad even withing UMNO B members..many parents are seeing the double standards they do not like. They know…they their children will have no true free personalities and mentalities…if they continue supporting racists crooks.
    What about MCA mothers?

  8. #8 by HJ Angus on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 6:21 am

    monster ball’s comments are correct and we should not turn this discussion into “superior Chinese” and “inferior non-Chinese” mothers.
    Raising kids this way may create a few “successful” adults but I suggest the majority will be traumatised and some will even jump off that tall building.
    Disciplining children is important but it must be tempered with LOVE and not ANGER.

  9. #9 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 7:39 am

    Bill Gates’s parents had a law career in mind for their son. They thought that a legal career would be more challenging for their son’s intellectual drive and curiosity.

    Now had Bill Gate’s mother been a Chinese mother in Amy Chua’s terms Bill might have become a reasonably successful attorney/lawyer like his father William Henry Gates Jr.

    But would he have followed his own interest to tinker with computer technology, create virus and debugging (eliminating errors from) programs etc at early age, dropped out of Harvard in 1975, ending his academic life so that he could begin his career as a software designer and together with his ex class mate Paul Allen, co-founded Microsoft, with the rest being history how he became the world’s richest man???

    The world especially Westerners are still agape with wonder how China has arisen like proverbial phoenix from ashes (country wise) not just economically but also technologically and militarily.

    Also the Chinese people have excelled from sports to many other fields of endeavour. Today Ferraris line the Bund in Shanghai on Friday & Sat nights. Hordes of Chinese tourists have replaced Japanese to flood the world with tourist dollars. Besides sending a Rocket – manned by real astronauts not space tourist – up to the stratosphere the world learns China also has a fleet stealth bomber fighters….China ‘s Shanghai Composite Index overtook Nikkei as second largest stock market capitalisation after Wall street. China’s corporations like Chjina Petroleum or China Mobile are amongst the world’s biggest in terms of market capitalization seeking to give Exxon a run.

    With China this and China that, the Occidental Western educated mind is confounded and seeks explanations, comes out with all kinds of fanciful explanations to explain the phenomena. Amy Chua’s Chinese mothers explanation is one. I have heard more fanciful theories from some of these Westerners – for eg Chinese more intelligent than the rest because they think in “civilisational terms” with thousands of years wisdom embedded in layers and layers of the conscious and sub-conscious, putting Western businessmen in disadvantage when they negotiate and do business in China etc After all who but Deng Hsio Peng would have thought of one country two system so contrary to Western concept of nationhood and national polity???

    Amy Chua must explain why Chinese mothers whilst producing so many math whizzes and music prodigies have also produced so many con men and corrupt officials in China and China Dolls without; how before they built the stealth bomber some former Northrup B2 design engineer was arrested for selling highly classified data about the B-2 and its stealth design to China; how Chinese violated all kinds of intellectual property to come out with their Looi Wantan (Louis Vuitton) Lacoste Polo etc

    I am not saying we deride China and not give the wondrous achievements of the Chinese and their industriousness and ingenuity the due but rather take exception to all kinds of fanciful & dubious theories & explanations from Western fans with rose tainted perception.

  10. #10 by Winston on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 7:51 am

    “Once a child starts to excel at something—whether it’s math, piano, pitching or ballet—he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun.” – End of quote

    In fact, that’s how they train dolphins!
    Do what the trainers want and they get a fish immediately.
    However, really, I mean really, great geniuses are born, not made.
    Some of the greatest geniuses never have any formal schooling.
    They are hot-wired to be one of a kind in their field.
    If anyone were to ask them how they became so extraordinary in their field, they just cannot answer that!

  11. #11 by k1980 on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 8:06 am

    Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids mainly because they are concentrating on the few kids (2 or 3) they have. If they have 14 kids in their family, the kids would be left to scavenge for themselves with little education and parental guidance. Those unguided kids will grow up to be social miscreants such as Botak Chin the Horrible, Kogan the car thief or Mamat the Mat Rempit, oops I mean Mat Cemerlang. And even if all those 14 kids should do well in school, their parents know that umno is not going to provide them with access to maktab science rendah boarding schools, scholarships and other financial incentives.

    There are reports that India is going to have 1.9 billion people soon, 500 million more than China. These 500 million people account for more than the entire population of the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand combined. Where and how are they going to find the resources to feed, house and nuture these 500 mouths?

  12. #12 by monsterball on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 8:22 am

    If anyone knows Botak Chin history…he was not a social misfit.
    His wrongdoings are out of no choice.
    He was an insurance salesman…but being harassed so many times by police…as a suspected gangster…so much so…he turned to robbery and made a legend for himself.
    He robbed the rich and gave to the poor exactly like Robin Hood.
    He had so many opportunities to kill police officers…but he did not.
    When he was hanged….so many policemen cried.
    And today…his grave is always with flowers…and his die hard supporters are still with bald heads.
    Kindly get your facts right…before grouping Botak Chin….into so call social miscreants.
    One like Chin Peng being misquoted is enough.

  13. #13 by waterfrontcoolie on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 8:46 am

    Amy Chua is writing an article based on a general theme. To quote example like Bill Gates; may I ask if there is more than one Bill Gates around? There are always exceptions to the general rule and that makes life more interesting and challenging. Of course, we have plenty of BOSSES who didnot even have primary education so are you going to use them as the pathfinders to tell your children to follow? I also think that some may read this from a racist point of view and I doubt the learned professor has that in mind. What she meant to say is because of a Chinese mother’s confuscian up-bringing, she tends to be a lot tougher on her children than many mothers in the West, including those “Chinese Mothers’ who have accepted the so-called superior western style education. Agreed, today we have plenty of mothers who have tried to follow the Western style and have children with behaviour which we abhor. If the sum total of the so-called western “psycho” approach is that good, they would be much more competitive today than their fore-fathers. Just witness their crumbling environment and people who refuse to work because of free social support from bankrupt Gomens!

  14. #14 by monsterball on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 8:56 am

    Well said…waterfrontcoolie

  15. #15 by undertaker888 on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 9:13 am

    i believe, as a parent, we should just build the right foundation of life for our kids. after that let them finish the house. or else when they grow, they will be asking for 30% quota and NEP for the rest of their useful life.

    but parents like amy chua is building the foundation and the house for them and dont know when to stop. it is called over-kiasu.

    i find young people nowadays are afraid to make decisions in life and at work. but our old generation can make decision in a snap of a finger. maybe this is due to their over protecting parents making all the “right” decisions for them since birth up until now.

    to train my kids, i let them make the decision does not matter right or wrong, as long as it is not life threatening. this way they will learn to be confident and take responsibility. anyway, life is full of decision makings.

  16. #16 by dagen on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 9:32 am

    Yeah yeah. Just give the child a pair of clutches and watch him move ma’am. Parenting the umno way is the best way in the world. Dont you know? And the umno trained child will grow up as owner of rambutan trees and suzuki cups. Yes!

  17. #17 by sotong on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 10:35 am

    Amy, a professor, you are testing us to see how we response.

    Like other mothers, you raised good kids.


  18. #18 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 11:32 am

    Whilst there is some truth that Western style parenting tend to produce children with behaviour which we abhor – it self quite contentious a view as it implies giving child responsbility to decide for himself may degenerate discipline – Amy’s view that Chiense mothers’ stricter ordering of their their kids to get straight As and making them excel in subjects that on their own they are not inclined (for eg maths music) and after getting the As, that itself will build interest and make the kids math whizzes and music prodigies – this line of thinking is contentious.

    I cited the one and only Bill Gates just for dramatisation effect of the fact that, just like the many lesser bill gates everywhere, many have found and developed their interest and attained excellence on their own quicker and easier precisely because their parents did not follow Amy’s version of imposing strict do’s and don’ts and pushing them by piling on them expectations to do well in everything whether they are inclined or not.

    Its one thing to encourage the young to follow their own lights to do what they do best, and another to say that by stricter discipline on children to exert strenous effort in everything to score the As that is the most expedient route in helping them find that particular niches to make them math whizzes and music prodigies.

    Just take an example like John Lennon: mother did not encourage him to apply study in music but perhaps just bought him a quitar that kindled his interest. To teach children to apply effort in everything to inculcate the habit of excellence, thinking from them he would find his place in the world, is often to block that very genius latent in some obscure area beyond the parent’s contemplation and the child not permited to explore on his own his innate interest, will lose the essential focus.

  19. #19 by cemerlang on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 11:43 am

    What motherf business is this ? mmm I wonder … Now I see. Or not see.

  20. #20 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 11:48 am

    ///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.” By contrast, roughly 0% of the Chinese mothers felt the same way///

    Sorry I agree with the Western mothers. The niche of Jimmy Choo in shoe design, Pavarotti’s tenor, Bryan Adam’s genious in hard slow rock, Bill Gate’s early interest in computer technology com, even Einstein M2, the greatness of military strategies learned by Churchill or General Maccarthur the talent of being a great cook and an inventor, Maradona’s or Pele’s skills on the football field are not exactly the kind of genius horned and nurtured by Chinese Mothers.

    The Chinese ‘Confucian’ mothers did not teach their Mandarin children to enquire question, explore and start the Industrial Revolution.

    The Kwei Lo did and in spite of their short 300-400 yrs of history, a blip compared to China’s 5000 years, they invented cannons and gun boats and used the gun powder invented by Chinese themselves to bombard them from the Yangtze River in the Opium War! What does that tell you?

  21. #22 by tak tahan on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 12:53 pm

    Result speaks for itself.It doens’t need a bigot and a liar to shout and twist around the fact.

    • #23 by cemerlang on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 4:38 pm

      Let’s look at the Chinese world beginning from where if not China. Back those days when there were queens. These days there is the communist party with all the party members. Look no further than our neighbour herself. Somehow a strong man or woman had or has to be there because without him or her, everyone will just be doing their own thing. Call it gila kuasa but without this kuasa, everything will go haywire. You ask a typical Chinese student any question, according to the type described by Amy Chua. 100 % is he or she will keep quiet. She will smile. She will exhibit some body language. But no verbal response. Of course she will pass in her exams. I would like her to verbalize her thoughts. Even one spoken word is good enough for a start. Not just keeping quiet and thinking that this is what is expected of a kwai kwai girl. This is not kwai kwai. This is fear. Fear of being punished for saying the wrong thing. What sayeth you, oh ye Chinese parents ?

  22. #24 by boh-liao on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 2:46 pm

    Dis Amy Chua a professor?
    So proud 2 b a super kiasu “Chinese mother” n condemn all “Western parents”?
    Order their kids to get straight As?
    Must b first in everything d kids do?
    First in class, first in dis n dat, first 2 beat d red light, first 2 jump Q, first 2 go 2 heaven?
    “That’s why Chinese daughters can’t have boyfriends in high school and why Chinese kids can’t go to sleepaway camp.” – What bullsh!t is dis?
    No heard of pre-teen sex n abortion committed by Chinese girls ah?

  23. #25 by on cheng on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 3:26 pm

    While Chinese mothers may have their plus points, but of course, they are NOT perfect !!

  24. #26 by PoliticoKat on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 4:01 pm

    Basically a “chinese mother” produces a laser. Strong, powerful and focused light. A knowledge base an inch wide but a mile wide. It also produces someone that can work on a project and be focused until success is obtained. There is talent, but hard work will always beat talent, mentality.

    The “western parent” produces a diffused, all encompassing glow. A knowledge base, a mile wide but an inch deep. It also tends to produce people who move from one thing to another, once their interest fades. There is also the tendency to think success requires some innate talent.

    On a larger scale, we tend to see that new ideas generated by children of “western parents” but the idea is developed by children of “chinese mothers”.

    The former has the vision, and the latter the knowledge and tenacity to make it better.

    From my experience, I have to agree with Amy Chua, the “chinese mother” model is in many ways superior to the “western parent” model. However, a practitioners of “chinese mother” model, must be able very very careful to gauge where the limit is. Too much and the child collapses under pressure. A poor chinese mother cranks up the pressure without care. A good one knows how much pressure to apply to challenge the child. Furthermore a “chinese mother” is in constant danger of stifling the child’s ability. They have to know what the child can do, and not be blinded by what they think the child can do.

    Practitioners of the “western parent” model, have to realise, that all the talent in the world will not amount to anything if a lot of hard work is not paid first. And most of that hard work is very unpleasant to an adult let alone a child.

    Nevertheless a children needs to learn that hard work does pay off eventually and almost anything can be achieved by hard work. It is a very hard lesson, even some adult never learn. They should also realise that children are very robust creatures.

    A good “western parent” leave space for the child to explore but maintains discipline and ensure the child always finishes what he starts. A poor “western parent” just leaves the child effectively unsupervised.

    • #27 by cemerlang on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 9:36 pm

      Amy Chua is a Chinese no doubt but an American Chinese assumably which makes her different from other Chineses. It is not right to stereotype all Chinese mothers to be like her. She is a professor. Not all Chinese mothers are professors. She is a working lady. Not all Chinese mothers are working. And there are Chineses all over the world which means that they are different. Chineses are hardworking but there are lazy Chineses as well. The first generation Chineses in US were very hardworking because they had to send money back to their families in China and they tried to be accepted by the white people there. Today’s US Chineses will be different and they are more like their Caucasians counterparts in that country or their Black counterparts. They are as American as any other American and would feel left out if they visit China. They might not even want to be known as a Chinese like a Chinese in China. Because US is superior.

      • #28 by PoliticoKat on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 10:59 pm

        Amy Chua did not literally mean a chinese mother ie a mother of ethic chinese origin. She was referring to the stereotype “Chinese mother” character.

        This “Chinese mother” stereotype would well be found in a woman from Germany of Caucasian origin. And to be frank the “Western Parent” stereotype is mainly associated to the US and maybe a little in the UK. You won’t find that kind of parent in Europe all that much.

  25. #29 by burn on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 10:55 pm

    amy chua lu mana mali punya!
    please keep ur article to urself.
    do not overdose too much, nanti jadi cuckoo doddle doo!

  26. #30 by tak tahan on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 12:15 am

    The passion…lah that counts whether professional mother or not..with some instinct inquisitive about how to lead her/his child and let him/her to choose their part.Lead the way and monitor his/her chosen destination lah..aiyoh..What la mother lesson here and there.monsterball.Where are you when people talk serious stuffs here?

  27. #31 by boh-liao on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 2:16 am

    Wonder what Sufiah Yusof (or Shilpa Lee as she called herself) thinks abt Amy’s article?

    Sufiah is a dream child of all super kiasu “Chinese mothers” – she did everything her mother n father wanted her 2 do (home school, maths, tennis, no TV or computer games) n became a child maths genius who won a place at Oxford University aged just 13, WOW
    Can imagine HOW PROUD her parents were when Sufiah was a world’s sensation @ 13
    UmnoB then even claimed her 2 b a Malay Malaysian, glorifying d Malay race

    Amy Chuah would certainly love her 2 daughters [Sophia (O dear, sounds like Sufiah) n Louisa] 2 follow Sufiah’s path – CHILD GENIUS n wow her ancestors

    Sufiah is still famous n doing maths (counting £) as Shilpa Lee now d brainy hooker
    She boasts her measurements as a ‘”very pretty size 8, 32D bust n 5ft 5in tall”
    She advertised herself as “a sexy, smart student” who preferred “older gentlemen”

    Good luck 2 all “Chinese mothers”, carry on pushing your kids day n night 2 fulfil your dreams, then praying hard dat they live your kind of life, not theirs

  28. #32 by boh-liao on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 2:23 am

  29. #33 by Jeffrey on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 6:57 am

    It is difficult to really generalise which – “Chinese” mothers’ or Western mother style of parenting yields better results for children because the result depends on too many variables.

    Variables include: the education/common sense and socio/economic level of the parents themselves, the level of intelligence of their kids and how fast they mature; level of communication/relation between parent & kids, the home school or peer environment and even the society in which the children are in etc.

    As Amy’s “Chinese mothers” is generic term representing a style of stricter and more focused and direct parental style, the parent/mother itself may be Chinese, or may be any other race and vice versa Western mother will include a mother of Chinese descent if she follows western style….

    In Amy’s case her daughters are in US, a white environment. Like our children here in Malaysia they’re not in white environment but if they read internet, western books, see western Hollywood movies and parents are English educated or Western biased, then the kids here also talk about kids’ rights etc like some Western kids. If they were only child here or in Republic of China then, depending on parents, they may be spared an otherwise stricter authoritarian parenting regime so that if they don’t on their own learn importance of discipline from parent’s gentle exhortations, they may actually become ill disciplined, a negative on whatever they do, whether scholastic duties or other responsibilities whether at home and to others whom they interact.

    In white society like (say) in Australia, Asian migrant children tend to exert harder and do better than their white peers partly because of Chinese mother’s approach but also the other reason is that they feel as minority working strnously to compete gives the edge and help survivability. At least their better academic achievements level a bit the ground against their White peers and competitors later in job market etc. Same is the case in say Malaysia when Non malay kids feel that they have to work harder to level playing field against the marginalisation. In S’pore every mother is a Chinese mother to their kids because it’s a pressure cooker society driven by meritocracy and intense competition.

    Whilst there’s good that comes from such parenting style, something else may also be lost that is good in the western parenting style of letting the child discover his own interest, and then supporting his interest.

    The western approach is more gentle indirect guidance than Chinese mother’s foisting a blanket doctrine of strenuous exertion on the kids for all things from academic duties to sports….

    This type of approach believes that working hard is prerequisite – but the hard work must be derived by the children’s innate interest to want to do it out of interest (inner driven) than enforced discipline from parents (outside driven), whereas Amy’s thesis is that children tend not to work hard, not to be disciplined (too many distractions, face book is one), so outside driven discipline must be enforced so that they do well, develop pride and confidence from success and from there develop the inner driven interest on their own to work hard and compete.

    It is difficult to say which yields better result because too many variables but in my example cited of the school Australia, many Asian parents would prefer a school of balance mix between whites and their more competitive migrant peers so that hopefully the kids are too veered to one side without the other’s influence.

  30. #34 by Jeffrey on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 7:36 am

    The other aspect Amy brings up is Confucian filial piety. She says “Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything”. Her western husband Jed holds opposite view – “Children don’t choose their parents,” he once said to me. “They don’t even choose to be born. It’s parents who foist life on their kids, so it’s the parents’ that owe kids unconditionally.

    Some understanding must be given to Chinese (or Asian) parents who believe kids owe them if one’s talking about parents of yesteryears. If they were not educated or well to do and have invested whatever money they have in kids, they naturally look to kids for economic support when they’re old and money wise lacking.

    But what if parents are well to do and educated? Today’s yuppies whether in Malaysian cities or Singapore hardly have much left after minus of mortgage payments to house and car, tax deduction and minimum life style requirements in Star Buck and latest hand phones. They depend on parents to give down payment for house and cars if not the whole payment even after parents have spent so much on their education. It is already like Jed’s style of parents owes the kids.

    In Singapore some children neglect their parents so bad that the government has to pass the Maintenance of Parents Act The Act provides for Singapore residents aged 60 years old and above, who are unable to subsist on their own, to claim maintenance from their children who are capable of supporting him but are not doing so. Parents can sue their children for maintenance, in the form of monthly allowances or a lump-sum payment.

    So let us put it this way in the Jed vs Amy debate of whether Parent owes kids or kids owe parents. This Confucian piety is based on blind piety to parents even if parents are scoundrels and derelict their parental duties.

    Anyway Confucius is long dead, and we are not that interested in his philosophy of why or how filial piety is cornerstone of society because it fosters blind citizens’ loyalty to their rulers as well in a hierarchical feudal society!

    On this issue of who owes who, Tun Dr Mahathir once said, if parents took care of us when we were young it’s only right we take care of them when they are old and disabled. Implicit in this statement is reciprocity. If Parents have not been derelict in their duties to children and have nurtured and brought them up well, it is simple basic human reciprocal decency on children’s part to pay that debt of gratitude to parents by taking care of them even if natural love and affection were not the predominant motivation in that particular set of relationship!

    I mean if one is not even grateful to care for one’s parents when they are closest and have nurtured and have been good to you since young, and all the success you have and even life itself is owed to them in bringing you forth in this world, how fair and grateful can one expects of you to be in relation to others who have been good and kind to you whether those significant others are spouse, relatives, friends, colleagues, business associates etc? As a point of ethics you are no good and no use in the world to anyone – a bum no matter how rich you are- and one does not need Confucius to tell you that.

  31. #35 by boh-liao on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 9:27 am

    Many parents view their kids as fixed deposits
    Just as MMK views Sabah, Sarawak, n poor Malays/Bumis as UmnoB/BN’s fixed deposits
    Give them pittance (leftover fr corrupted $$) n expect them 2 hv paternal + filial love 4 UmnoB/BN n vote 4 UmnoB/BN forever, QED
    NR’s infamous “I know what U want, I give U, n U know what I want”

  32. #36 by good coolie on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 10:50 pm

    Stand Up, Chinese fathers!

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