News / USA

Tiger Mom Triggers Parenting Debate

Memoir recounts strict Chinese approach to raising children

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid