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The Mass Media

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Tiger Mother’s Book Raises Controversy

 

When does strict parenting become too strict? This is the question we are faced with when we hear about Amy Chua, the self-proclaimed “Tiger Mother” and her controversial methods. In Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Chua makes it very clear that the best way (in her opinion) to raise a child is the Chinese way which sometimes involves harsh treatment, including verbal abuse, as opposed to the Western way which, in her opinion, is far too lenient. Once going so far as to call her daughter “garbage” when she was being disrespectful, it isn’t too hard to see how many parents who use less colorful language when it comes to their children would be offended. According to her, westerners promote the idea that education should be stress-free and fun, and this is something she does not entirely disagree with. However, it is the belief that nothing can really be fun until you are good at it that separates the East from the West on this particular issue. The most important thing is to get one’s child to understand this is by dictating what they should be doing (whether or not the child agrees is a non-issue) and then implementing a strict schedule in which they work, work some more, and finish with more work. No matter what the child has found a talent for (and hopefully it is a number of pursuits as opposed to just one) the goal is to get that child into a kind of rotation in which they practice vigorously until they become not just proficient, but excellent. This accomplishment of goals then leads to praise from the parent and, most importantly, self satisfaction on the child’s part. He or she now enjoys the activity that was at first simply something they had to do and now seeks to continue to be excellent and perhaps even further their recent successes. Mrs. Chua is especially careful to emphasize that everything a Chinese parent does when it comes to rearing a child is done for his or her benefit. Listening to her talk about the things she as a parent has done with regards to raising her two daughters (who to this day do not resent their mother) the word “confidence” comes up quite often. Pushing a child hard in order that she may become excellent is done towards fostering belief in herself that will help her in every facet of her life as an adult, especially in a professional environment. She will recognize early, that if she focuses and puts all of her energy into working on becoming better she will accomplish all of her goals. Now we must ask ourselves, are Amy Chua’s methods of harsh treatment, sometimes involving verbal abuse and strict schedules really all that bad? For that matter do Chinese parents place too much emphasis on goals and academic excellence? On one count we cannot argue with results. Foreign students who come over to the U.S. (especially Asian students) and test often perform at a higher level and this has long been an issue that our education system has sought to improve. Her daughters are also accomplished musicians, just so you know. I wonder if Amy Chua may actually be on to something here.