News / USA

Tiger Mom Triggers Parenting Debate

Memoir recounts strict Chinese approach to raising children

Multimedia

Audio
Faiza Elmasry

A new memoir by a 48-year-old Asian American Yale professor has ignited a controversy about parenting styles.

Amy Chua admits she was hard on her two daughters. In her best-selling memoir, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," she writes about the time one of them came in second to a Korean classmate in math. Chua made the girl do 2,000 math problems a night until she regained her supremacy. She also threatened to burn all of her daughter’s stuffed animals unless she played a piece of music perfectly.

In 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom,' Amy Chua details her own extreme 'Chinese' style of parenting.
In 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom,' Amy Chua details her own extreme 'Chinese' style of parenting.

Chua says that’s the way her Chinese immigrant parents raised her and her three sisters in the American Midwest.

"I was, you know, kind of  trying to do what my parents did." Chua told NBC news she had a very strict list of what her daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were not allowed to do.
"Attend a sleepover, have a play date, watch TV or play computer games, be in a school play, get any grade less than an A."

But Chua changed her way of parenting, slightly, when her younger daughter rebelled, yelling, "I hate my life! I hate you!"

"I decided to retreat when it seemed like there was a risk that I might lose my daughter," she says.

In the book, even as she mocks her own extreme "Chinese" style of parenting, Chua criticizes Western parenting. She says American parents lack authority and raise spoiled children who aren’t expected to live up to their potential.

"One of the biggest differences I see between Western and Chinese parenting is that Chinese parents assume strength rather than fragility."

Chua’s views have stirred a nationwide debate. She was bombarded by hundreds of e-mails criticizing her parenting style, describing it as abusive, and worse. But, the Wall Street Journal published an excerpt of her memoir, under the headline: "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior."

"It’s inflammatory. I think, obviously, that kind of title sparks off a debate," says Stacy DeBroff, who has written four books on parenting. "The stirring of this intense debate has to do with what does it mean to be a successful parent and what does it mean to be a successful child? So if you take away freedom and choice and the more nurturing aspects of parenting, are you raising a child who we think is going to be a successful adult? Or are they going to be an accomplished - but not a very happy adult - or secure or socialized in their interactions with other people?"

Chua’s style of parenting, DeBroff explains, is not limited to some Chinese families. It represents a traditional immigrant parenting model.

"Across a lot of different cultures, when people came to America as immigrants they knew that education and achievements were a way to solidly move their way up into the middle class, the upper middle class, to really have a future for their kids. So what I’ve seen even today in American high schools is a continuation of some of that immigrant mentality. There is no time to be social, you have to get great grades, you have to focus, because we’re counting on you to sort of have a future that extends beyond the options that were offered to us."

While those expectations are understandable, DeBroff says spending all their time on academic pursuits prevents children from developing other skills they need to succeed in life.

"The thing what’s troubling about this philosophy is that there is no room to raise ordinary kids. Like, if a kid doesn’t achieve, what does that mean? And also, if you are in a peer group where everyone has cell-phones and has I-pods and you’re denying it, then your kids are going to have a really hard time making friends and being social."

She believes the American way of parenting is more flexible - and positive - than Chua’s.

"Today, our parenting philosophy is to try to raise our kids with some of the same core values and the things we passionately believe in, but also give them the freedom to follow passions of their own. We tend to be fairly accommodating to try to bring out what we consider to be the best in our kids."

With so many outside influences today, DeBroff believes raising kids in the 21st century has become more challenging than ever. Instead of just repeating the way they were raised, she urges today’s parents to develop their own style to mold their children into the kind of adults they hope to become.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid