The text “Why Chinese Moms Are Superior” is written by Amy Chua, a professor at Yale law school. The article is an excerpt from her book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”, which were the cause of much discussion because her methods of raising her kids to many “Western parents” were too strict and almost inhumane. The article deals with the differences between Chinese and Western perception of how to raise a child seen from the perspective of a Chinese mother.
Although the Chinese tends to end up with more success than the western, the question is whether the end justifies the means or not? This essay will first of all account for Amy Chua’s perception of upbringing as seen in the text. Secondly it focus on the way the writer, Amy Chua, engages the reader. Her argumentation and modes of appeal will therefore also be analyzed. Third this paper will be discussing the possible consequences of adopting Amy Chua’s values and methods of upbringing. In the article Amy Chua starts of by writing that “A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids.
” Throughout the article Chua answers this question with her perception of the differences between a Western and a Chinese upbringing and her first hand experiences being a successfully, Chinese-style raised woman. According to Chua’s philosophy on upbringing, a set of rules must apply for the child to reach success. No extracurricular or social activity is allowed, and they have to be the best in every subject with the exception of physical education and drama. A Chinese child is not allowed to attend a sleepover or even watch television. There is no time for that.
Chinese mothers believe that the key to success is rote repetition. This is because “Chinese parents understand 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.”
The Western parents that consider themselves strict may have their child practice an instrument for thirty to sixty minutes a day, while a Chinese parent like Chua pushes her children to practice for three hours a day. She argues that once the child starts to excel at anything, praise and admiration will follow, building confidence and making the activity fun for the child. This makes it possible for the child to get even better. The confidence is essential to the child’s success and also makes it possible for the Chinese parents to “[…] get away with things that Western parents can’t.”
This includes condescending remarks said to the child in order to make the child feel ashamed. This seems damaging to the child in Western thinking, but according to Chua – it does not damage their self-esteem because they know how much their parents love them. Chinese parents can also say things straight to their kid. Things like “Hey fatty – lose some weight” are not considered to be damaging to the child in Chinese philosophy. By contrast Western parents have to “tiptoe around the issue”. In the article there is mentioned a few situations where the Western and the Chinese perception of the ideal upbringing differ. First off, “Western parents are concerned with their children’s psyche. Chinese parents aren’t.” this is because the Chinese parents believe in their children.
If a Chinese child comes home with an unacceptable grade, the parents will be angry and will mock the child – followed by intense exercising in the given subject. By contrast the Western parents “[…] will express disapproval, but they will be careful not to make their child feel inadequate or insecure […]”. According to Chua, the Western parents have secret doubts in their child and maybe even in the teacher, curriculum or the school. Secondly, the Chinese parents believe that their child is in eternal debt to them. The child repays the debt by spending the rest of its life obeying the parents – and by making them proud.
By contrast, most Westerners, like Chua’s husband, Jed, don’t have this view. Instead they think that it is the parents’ duty to provide for their kids and that “Their duty will be to their own kids.” Third, the Chinese parents believe that they know what is best for their child, and that their child’s desire therefore should be overwritten, whereas the Western parents more or less let their child do what it wants to do.
This difference is seen when Chua forces her daughter, Lulu, to learn a very difficult piece on the piano. Throughout the article, Chua engages the reader with a provocative yet intelligent style of writing. A look on the tittle “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” clearly captures this provocative style as the article is intended for Western parents in general. In the article, Chua describes how the Western upbringing is worse than the Chinese. As the philosophy of upbringing is composed of the values that exist in a given society, Chua’s article could be perceived as an attack on the Western civilization in general.
The article has a constant focus on the contrast between the “ideal” Chinese way of upbringing and the ineffective Western way. This contrast as seen by Chua is clearly seen by her response to her husband, Jed’s comment on her being too rough on their daughter Lulu when she is not able to play a complicated piano piece. “”Sophia could play the piece when she was this age.” “But Lulu and Sophia are two different people,” Jed pointed out” “oh no, not this,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Everyone is special in their special own way,” I mimicked sarcastically.
“Even losers are special in their own special way. […]”” In this quote, Chua critically references to the way Western parents acknowledge their kids even though they do not excel at anything. This would never happen for Chinese parents. Instead, they would push the child to practice over and over until perfection would be reached, which is the ideal solution according to Chua. The strict, Chinese upbringing with everything it includes can almost seem inhumane to the Western reader. Most Western people would probably feel sympathy for the unfortunate child, which youth is being spoiled by its strict parents. So how would things work out if the West were to adopt Chua’s values and methods on upbringing, the so-called authoritarian parenting? Would our children be more successful? First of we would have to determine “success”.
In the article, Chua refers to a study of fifty Western American mother and forty-eight Chinese immigrant mothers. The majority of the Chinese mothers said that “academic achievement reflects successful parenting”. If we assumed that the Western mothers had answered the same as the Chinese immigrant mothers and that more Chinese children become academics – then yes, our children would be more successful. But this authoritarian parenting style will backfire if we were to consult Cristine Travis, a featured contributor in Women’s Health for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
Travis has looked into multiple researches studying the connection between parenting style and how the kid actually turns out1. According to her, the studies were able to find clear and consistent results that prove that the authoritarian parenting style has multiple consequences. Children raised by authoritarian parents are more likely to engage in aggressive behavior, struggle with self-sufficiency and have difficulty cooperating and making friends. Furthermore they have difficulties making moral decisions and taking initiative as adults because of the constant supervision they have received from their parents as child.
They lack independence. The main problem with the authoritarian parenting style is that it is built upon fear, which is far from optimal according to Travis. Instead parents should go for the authoritative parenting style: “Adopting a cooperative and authoritative approach with a child, while still upholding family rules, has been proven time and again to be a much more effective parenting strategy, and one that equips children to go out into the world as adults.”2 For parents to answer the question, “whether the end justifies the means or not”, they must decide what their goal for their children’s life is. If they decide that “academic achievement reflects successful parenting” like the forty-eight immigrant mothers, then an authoritarian parenting style might be the answer.
If they instead decide that a socially intelligent and independent child is more important, then an authoritative might be the answer. Ultimately the end does justify the means, you just have to decide what you want the end to be.