‘Tiger mother’ retreats

Chinese mothers aren’t really superior, says Amy Chua, complaining her Wall Street Journal piece, as edited and headlined, didn’t reflect her real views. (She took herself out of context!)

High expectations must be “coupled with love, understanding and parental involvement,” Chua writes in a response to readers.

This is the gift my parents gave me, and what I hope I’m giving my daughters. I’ve also taught law students of all backgrounds for 17 years, and I’ve met countless students raised the “tough immigrant” way (by parents from Pakistan, India, Nigeria, Korea, Jamaica, Haiti, Iran, Ireland, etc.) who are thriving, independent, bold, creative, hilarious and, at least to my eyes, as happy as anyone. But I also know of people raised with “tough love” who are not happy and who resent their parents. There is no easy formula for parenting, no right approach.

In Mother, superior? in the San Francisco Chronicle, Jeff Yang agrees that Chua’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, is a “riveting read” written in a “slightly rueful, frequently self-deprecating” tone.

“The Journal basically strung together the most controversial sections of the book,” Chua told Yang.  “But the worst thing was, they didn’t even hint that the book is about a journey, and that the person at beginning of the book is different from the person at the end — that I get my comeuppance and retreat from this very strict Chinese parenting model.”

“Tiger mother” is not a term used by young Asian-Americans, Yang adds.

. . .  for many Asian Americans, the path to adulthood is a sustained, multi-decade-long three-legged race, in which mom drags offspring through a furious gauntlet of piano lessons and college prep, violin lessons and more college prep, disappointment and anger and blowups and reconciliation and then more college prep.

We survivors commonly call this the “Crazy Asian Mom” phenomenon.

Always lovingly, of course. And never to her face.

He links to Erick Liang’s YouTube video, titled “Crazy Asian Mother,” which explains what happens when a Chinese-American student gets a B+ in English.

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  1. Shouldn’t that be Engrish?

  2. What an incredible discussion Amy Chua started around our country. Clearly, we are concerned about how we raise children and many of us are concerned that we may not be on a good path. But, which way to go? The fact that this article generated the most comments ever received by the Wall Street Journal tells us all we need to know, really. I say, keep the conversation going. It’s raising huge and important issues for us.

  3. Ms. Chua has already backed down from many of her statements. She wasn’t ready for the bright lights of being a diva.