An article in the Wall Street Journal called “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” has American mothers (and others) in a furor.It’s written by Amy Chua, a Yale Law professor, whose daughters Louisa and Sophia are clearly, well, superior–presumably due to the parenting methods that Chua describes (methods that would appall many American parents).
Are Chinese mothers superior? Read Amy’s article (excerpt below) and you be the judge.
If the goal is efficiency, excellence, and success, it would seem that this Chinese mother, at least, has most American mothers beat. And it’s not hard to extrapolate that superiority toward a future world in which China wins and Americans dream of glory days when we were hungry, committed, and self-disciplined, too.
(Of course, Amy Chua is an American mother, and her kids are Americans, but leave that aside for a moment…)
A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many maths 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.
Read the whole thing here. And definitely read it. Because it goes on to show how unbelievably soft and flaky and indulgent most western parents are relative to their “Chinese” counterparts.
“Chinese mothers,” on the other hand, understand how hard it is to be good at something, how intense the competition is, and how–of course–a child doesn’t WANT to put in the work necessary to truly excel.
Are “Chinese mothers” just creating successful robots? Or a generation of extraordinarily talented and disciplined adults who know what it takes to succeed and, therefore, will inherit the earth?Similarly, are “western mothers” just coddling complacent, lazy kids, rearing a generation that will do nothing more than stick their hands out and wait to be rewarded for–well, for just being? Or do kids need their play time?
More broadly? Are America’s best days behind it? Have we just gotten fat and lazy and un-disciplined? Are we an empire in decline?
Weigh in below…
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