A Yale law professor named Amy Chua has the internet buzzing with an essay called Why Chinese Mothers are Superior, which appeared on the Wall Street Journal opinionjournal.com website. It begins with this proposition:
‘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.’ (end of excerpt)
One of the pictures accompanying the essay shows a stern Chua watching over her daughter practicing the violin.
Thus Chua is advocating an extremist type of parenting with a joyless childhood. Yet if this parenting is so superior, where are all the great innovations emanating from China? Why is China today powered only by Western technology? Where are the breakthroughs like computers or electricity or the internal combustion engine or satellite communication that came from this wonderful family system in China? Where are the great symphonies or the complex and beautiful instruments like the violin or piano?
Answer: There are none. All these ideas come from European/American culture. China is a mimic culture today, just as Chinese students today are mimics who do well only by rote, surely because they have tyrannical parents who starve their children of youth. Asian students are like electronic calculators: They get the right answer and can play the right notes, but have no creativity or personality. Because their parents are creeps like Amy Chua.
Isn’t Chua’s choice of words telling: ‘A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids’.
Yes, stereotypical indeed. Because these children are like cookie cutouts of stereotypical success, not real successes.
‘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.’ end of excerpt)
This is such arrogance. Then again, Chua is a professor at Yale so she knows a thing or two about arrogance. Or a thousand things.
‘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. … 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.’ (end of excerpt)
Uh, professor Chua, there is a thick line between criticism and cruelty. Apparently Chinese parents are very cruel even to their own children. Which must explain why China has had more mass murder than any other nation in history, and has contributed virtually nothing original to the world today. Because ‘fortune cookie’ does not count. Or ‘pork fry rice’.
Did Andrew Carnegie change the world because his mother made him study steelmaking 15 hours a day? Did Bill Gates excel because his father forced him to take thousands of hours of computer courses at Harvard?
No, they were self-made in the individualistic Western mold, not in the cookie-cutter Chua mold. Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, was told by a college professor that his idea of overnight package delivery was stupid. So you wonder what slavemaster Chua would have said about Smith’s idea. Probably something like: “You go room! You bad boy! No ovah-night package!! Ovah-night gah-bage!! You learn piano! All day!”
‘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.” (end of excerpt)
Yes, because we American/European parents know a concept that nasty Chinese people like Amy Chua apparently do not. It is called “parental love”.
‘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.’ (end of excerpt)
Man, am I glad my mother wasn’t Chinese. If I grew up believing that I owed everything to Amy Chua, I’d be in a mental hospital by now. Or I would have jumped off the balcony.
Chua has a photo with the article of her daughter Sophia playing at Carnegie Hall. (By the way, Saint Sophia is the name of the most famous Christian martyr in history. Even Chua’s choice of her child’s name is Western.) These Asian child music prodigies are a dime a dozen. Here is what Chua writes about her other daughter Louisa (Lulu) learning an instrument:
‘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.’ (end of excerpt)
Chua is obviously some kind of thug in the Maoist mode. But then again, she teaches at Yale and Yale is full of academic thugs looking for someone to dominate. Like their own children or their students. Playing at Carnegie Hall? Yeah, right… Lindsay Lohan starred in The Parent Trap at the same age and she is a basket case now.
Then you have to ask: What are Chua’s political leanings?
Let’s assume she is a super-liberal Yale professor with all the leftist “ideas” for society like undermining the family structure with feminism, and ruining the education system with teacher unions and propaganda from Al Gore. If so, her little gulag at the Chua house is just a dictatorial world within a dictatorial mind. Frightening…
And finally, think about it: Everything Chua does apparently is intended to impress people. Look! My daughter at Carnegie Hall!
Indeed, a hall that would not even exist if Andrew Carnegie’s mother were anything like Amy Chua. Andrew probably would have become an opium addict.
Can American parents be more demanding of their children? Are we slipping too far into mediocrity and permissiveness?
Absolutely. We need major reforms and to get away from the left’s destruction of our society through nihilism and apathy, and that is another story entirely. But the extremes of Amy Chua’s prescription are hardly the answer. This female is a menace to American society and to her children. She should go back to China where she belongs. And leave the kids here so that they can salvage something out of their lives.
Please visit my website at www.nikitas3.com for more. You can read excerpts from my book, Right Is Right, which explains why only conservatism can maintain our freedom and prosperity.