Tiger parents-A A +A
Saturday, January 29, 2011
AMY Chua has caused an uproar. Her essay entitled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” published Jan. 8, 2011 in the Wall Street Journal and excerpted from her book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” has drawn flak and even death threats from Western parents.
I was prepared to hate Amy Chua even before I had read her essay or her book. Having heard about her parenting style of no sleepovers, no playdates, no TV, no computer games, no participation in school plays, no complaints about no participation in school plays, no grades less than A and no excuses for not being the number one student in every subject except gym and drama, I was prepared to label her an ogre.
And so did millions of Americans. Read their scathing remarks about Amy on the internet.
Amy Chua shocked us all with her harsh and unbending parenting ways. Her own husband, Jed Rubenfeld, a non-Chinese, initially objected to her methods as well. But I say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Check out Amy’s 18-year-old daughter, Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld’s letter to her tiger mom in the New York Post (Jan 18, 2011).
Amy has said in the various interviews she has given that the Wall Street Journal excerpts do not present a complete picture of her book. And she clarifies that her book is a memoir, not a “how to” book. I have read only the excerpts but even then, I courageously conclude that despite Amy Chua’s unorthodox parenting ways, she is not a bad parent. For while I do not subscribe to her parenting methods, I completely understand her.
Parents struggle daily to maintain a balance between freedom and control, spontaneity and discipline. If there was a parenting school, I would go in a heartbeat. But there is none. as such, we have to learn along the way, do the best we can and hope and pray the kids won’t need therapy one day.
Like Amy, I too, have had my moments of tiger parenting. Unlike Amy, though, I have yet to know if one day my niece will have become permanently damaged by my tiger ways or if she will pen a letter similar to Sophia’s entitled “Why I love my strict Chinese aunt.”
I continue to hope it will be the latter. Like Amy, I am prepared to be hated as a parent so long as my tiger ways will one day contribute to the character of my ward. I do not have to be around when she realizes it. The important thing is that I will have succeeded in making her a better person.
And I thought I was a Western parent. Deep down, I am Chinese, after all. I still believe in sacrifice as the ultimate form of love.
I always thought that Western ways were better. Now I know that’s not true. But Chinese ways are not necessarily superior. Neither way is better or worse. All parents (of sound minds) only want the best for their children. They just have different ways of going about it.
Amy Chua was born in Champaign, Illinois but her parents who are of Chinese descent originally came from the Philippines. Read Amy. Whether or not you agree with her parenting style, reading about it will compel you to think about your own and about whether or not you’re doing the right thing. (Tiger parents 2 coming up next week.)
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Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 30, 2011.