Amy Chua’s new book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” has skyrocketed in sales and public attention lately with the Wall Street Journal’s excerpt of some of the book’s most controversial pages on “Chinese” versus “Western” parenting. The article prompted a deluge of outraged reactions and debates in the blogosphere, with one thoughtful response piece from a “Western” mother — and even Chua’s own daughter spoke up in defense of the way she was raised. Last week, Chua sat down with Alison Stewart to elaborate more on her own evolution as a parent, emphasizing that “Tiger Mother” is “not a how-to book; it’s a memoir.”
Some of the heated discussion surrounding Chua and her views on parenting gave way to a broader conversation about which methods are effective in modern parenting. On our website, one reader, Denise, supported Chua’s strict policies and high standards:
Rules, expectations, lessons, molding: These are my takeaways from the few interviews I’ve heard with or read about Chua this week. She says we should assume our children’s strength, not tiptoe around their presumed vulnerability and fragility (I’m paraphrasing). To which I say, right on!
My 4 boys have thanked me time and time again for their strict childhood. I did not place as many restrictions upon them as Amy Chua placed on her children but there were definite guidelines. They had to do things they didn’t like. If you are to succeed at anything you have to learn to do the hard things you don’t want to do. Being permissive is not loving it is taking the easy way out – it isn’t done for our children it is done for us so we can be their “buddies” instead of their parents. Each of my sons have expressed their frustration with those that work for them whose parents never taught them responsibility or self discipline. There has to be a median between permissiveness and harshness.
Another commenter, Rojobahr, stressed the importance of praising children for their successes in addition to pushing them to do their best:
There is nothing wrong with having high expectations of your children. I believe that they should be able to choose their own activities – but I also think that they should BE involved in an activity. I push my own children to be the best they can be – but I also counter that with encouragement and praise for a job well done. I think that her ultimate conclusion that a blending of parenting styles is best is correct. I found it refreshing and admirable to read something so honest about parenting — both the good and the bad. Anyone who thinks that they are the ‘best’ kind of parent is [delusional], IMO.
GK Sushi, on the other hand, cautioned against the negative effect that such rigorous standards might have on children’s social functioning later in life:
What tiger moms miss is that there is HUGE disconnect between the elder generations and the younger. They may feel obligated to maintain their relationships to a certain point, but it comes with no small amount of derision from the children and ruins their lives in other ways. Sure they have great careers, but they constantly lament that they never were allowed a social life and are often socially dysfunctional. The fact is that your kids are NOT you, an error many parents take, western or “eastern,” and living vicariously backfires most of the time.
Are American children being “coddled” by parents trying to be their friends rather than disciplinarians and motivators? How much focus should parents put on their children’s self-esteem and social skills? Keep the conversation going — Need to Know will be continuing this discussion in an upcoming show.