In Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua argues that traditional Chinese mothers are better at raising children who excel than Westernized mothers, who are softies. In the Wall Street Journal, Chua, a Yale law professor, brags:
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.
Chua rejected her daughters’ handmade birthday cards because they weren’t good enough. Her description of how she forced her younger daughter to keep practicing a difficult piano piece with no water or bathroom breaks sounds like child abuse by American standards.
Chua, the daughter of immigrants, claims her version of Chinese parenting stems from faith in her children’s abilities. There’s no need to fear failure because success is just a matter of working harder.
The Journal links to reviews in the San Francisco Chronicle, EW and Washington Post. All the reviewers seem to be fascinated and appalled by Chua’s parenting.