27
   

Why Chinese Mothers are Superior

 
 
Linkat
 
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 08:21 am
When it comes to parenting, the Chinese seem to produce children who display academic excellence, musical mastery and professional success.

Just a small part of a very interesting article -

Things a Chinese mother never allows their child 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.

The vast majority of the Chinese mothers believe their children can be "the best" students, that "academic achievement reflects successful parenting," and if children did not excel at school then there was "a problem" and parents "were not doing their job." Chinese parents spend approximately 10 times as long every day drilling academic activities with their children.

Chinese mothers can say to their daughters, "Hey fatty—lose some weight." Chinese parents can say, "You're lazy.

This is an extremely interesting article about how/why Chinese children seem to be more successful than the average Western child.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html
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Type: Question • Score: 27 • Views: 17,253 • Replies: 132

 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 08:24 am
@Linkat,
Quote:
What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it


BLECH.

(Still reading.)
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 08:25 am
i remember seeing a chinese mother superior once, but it turned out she was from the philippines
Linkat
 
  2  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 08:26 am
@sozobe,
I actually think there are some good points, obviously it is a bit extreme. But many of us Westerners do not push our children enough and I agree with the whole self-esteem thing that we often take things too far as well.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 08:26 am
@djjd62,
The article does state that other cultures have this same philosphy - like the Philippines.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 08:34 am
@Linkat,
It's extreme, yes.

I've read way too many books from the products of these Chinese mothers to think that it's all fine and dandy.

Plus the suicide rates of Chinese students who do badly.

I just Googled "Chinese student suicide" and got a bazillion hits. Which to choose. I'll go with this one:

Quote:
Three Chinese-American students at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have killed themselves in the last three months. Two died by helium asphyxiation and the cause of death of the third student, though deemed a suicide, is yet to be determined. Their stories have been covered in the Chinese language media, but remain virtually unreported in the mainstream.

These suicides are anything but isolated incidents. Popular opinion may project Asians and Asian Americans as super achievers, scoring high on the SAT, dominating prestigious colleges and working as high-paid professionals, but the dark side of that narrative is that they are much more likely than the average American to commit suicide, according to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At Cornell University, for instance, 13 of the 21 student suicide victims between 1996 and 2006 were Asians or Asian Americans. That picture is not complete unless you consider that Asians make up of only 14 percent of the total Cornell student body. Cornell is so concerned that in 2002 it formed a special Asian and Asian American Campus Climate Task Force to look into the reason behind the high number of suicides.


http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=c2b8f3a43bbe3e0445f23274028d24a7

After all, if EVERYONE is hellbent on being "the best," then there are going to be some who make it and some who don't. And if "the best" is all that's acceptable, what about the ones who don't?

I think there's a pretty huge chunk of middle ground between torturing your kids into succeeding (that "Little Donkey" story seemed to have a happy ending but holy crap) and being so concerned about their self-esteem that you never challenge 'em.

I wonder what the author would make of my super-achieving kid? I make sure she's challenged but other than that I parent NOTHING like she describes. Geesh.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 08:36 am
@sozobe,
And it would be nice if they could be children sometimes...
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 08:38 am
@sozobe,
One more thought...

My husband is a science professor. He chooses students to work with. It's come up before that with some exceptions, the super-smart, high-achieving Chinese students tend to really lack in the creativity department. They know a lot but that only gets you so far... you have to be able to reach outside the drills and think creatively too to get to the next levels in science.

(By the way my annoyance here is directed at the author of the article, not you, linkat. I get that she seemed to be purposely overstating for effect but a lot of it is just blaeioraghhd??!!.)
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 08:39 am
@Linkat,
Exactly.

No sleepovers? No school plays? Gah.
0 Replies
 
PUNKEY
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 08:39 am
The importance of education in the family is evident, but I don't know if they are any happier or creative. Suicide rates are up for Asians, so is alcoholism and drug use. There is much emphasis on "family honor" in the actions of all family members.

Home schooled children in the US often get the same kind of attention as Chinese student.

I suspect that there many Chinese children who go to work instead of going to school. They are not in the system. So we are seeing the cream of the crop.

0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 08:42 am
@sozobe,
Didn't take it you were annoyed with me. The moms do seem over the top proud of themselves. The one thing that strikes me is that even though they say this is the best for their children and that they are most important, there seems an awful lot of pride for themselves involved - it seems a bit more self centered.

Not that I don't frequently brag about my kids and am proud of when they accomplish something, but it almost seems that this is the most important thing.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 08:45 am
@Linkat,
Good point.

I do think that's part of the whole picture... I know things are changing but I think that it's historically been a big part of how Chinese women get status. What their kids (especially sons) amount to. Not sure about that part.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 08:53 am
@Linkat,
What a sad article, both in terms of what is says about parenting and its poor logic. On the logic, this is the opening sentence.
Quote:
A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids.

People wonder that because they only see the successes that rise out of the pack. What about the vast majority of the Chinese population that does not come out number one? The number ones make it out of China and make it big in their chosen fields, but where are the other 1.3 BILLION Chinese citizens? If you focus only on the successes, of course you can paint a rosy picture. Those are the people you show to the rest of the world. If you try as hard as you can and come out in the middle of the pack, I'd rather be in the West.

As to the parenting - never allowed to have a playdate? Never be in a school play? Never to choose their own extracurricular? Never to play an instrument other than the violin or piano? The article makes some good points about setting high standards and parental involvement but it makes some scary statements as well. I'm glad the author is proud of her children, but I'm not going to mimic her parenting.

This seems to be more of the "The Chinese are coming" scare mongering that press enjoys engaging in. In the '80s it was "The Japanese are coming" or "The Germans are coming." I've seen several articles in this vein recently. "The Chinese do things this way and we better change our easy, permissive ways or we will all be speaking Chinese in ten years." I think there are multiple avenues to success and if the Chinese have a good model that works for them, great. I think the Japanese model, the German model, the American model and all the other models out there have strengths as well.
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  2  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 08:56 am
@Linkat,
Quote:
This is an extremely interesting article about how/why Chinese children seem to be more successful than the average Western child.


If you define success as turning them into hard working, obedient robots then I guess this is the way to go. The Chinese admit they have problems inspiring creative thought in their students and this article gives an indication as to why. American parents and children may have other extremes that need to be tamped down, but I don't consider this a good recipe for child rearing.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 09:10 am
@Linkat,
I'm glad you posted this. I started reading it yesterday and was sufficiently horrified that I couldn't finish it. You forced me to go back and read the whole thing and I thank you for that.

What bothers me is that she seems to think that ALL Chinese mothers are one way and all Western mothers are another way. I don't think this is true at all.

What she really seems to be describing (at least to me, and I'm probably choosing the wrong words so someone correct me) is immigrant culture -- families that came to America with children wanting a better life. They worked hard. Their kids worked hard. It was a HUGE deal if their kids graduated from high school. The next generation set their sites higher -- their kids would go to college. Instead of working in the family business the kids job became education and the whole family was focused on the kid's success.

I think you were right on the money with your comment about the whole ordeal being about the parent's bragging rights. I can completely understand that in the context of immigrant culture. Having a successful child meant that the parent's had worked hard and been successful themselves.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 09:10 am
@Green Witch,
Here is a blog from a Chinese-American stay at home dad about the article and book

A summary of some items:
Positive of these raising - acknowledgment that many Asian kids seem to excel in academics has little to do with genetics and a whole lot to do with practice and culture. Chua credits her children’s success to the parenting techniques and not to some inborn abilities. I think there is some truth to the Eastern idea of “practice makes perfect”—compared to the Western idea of innate talent. (I don’t deny there is such a thing as talent or prodigies, but I also believe that practice goes a long way toward developing those early aptitudes.)

The deeper issue is how we think about “success” when it comes to our children—or more importantly, when it comes to our parenting. For Chua (and many parents, Chinese or Western), it seems that she feels her children’s behavior is a direct reflection of her parenting skills. Also, Chua’s opinion on what constitutes success is quite stereotypical: academic achievement, musical excellence. Excelling at sports is seen as unimpressive, and school plays are completely laughable. Emotional maturity and personal passions? Forget it. The true measure of success here is “math whizzes and music prodigies.”

It also touches on how many Chinese-Americans actually do not support this "tiger" mothering.
http://www.geekmom.com/2011/01/the-truth-about-chinese-mothers/
Linkat
 
  2  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 09:15 am
@Linkat,
The whole practice, practice thing has some personal touch to me. My daughter really wants to excel in basketball - her choice - she loves it. To be honest I wasn't much of a basketball fan until she began playing. She has talent, but no matter how talented you need to practice and if you want to be really good - college and/or pro level you really need to practice.

She plays on travel and AAU teams and asks to - the one thing I saw is the lack of disclipine and practice on many of the girls. Many have talent, but few really practice to be very very good. These are supposed to be competitive, but these girls do not even know how to run their basic plays. And many of the parents do not encourage practice, do not show up to games, etc.

I do think we could learn something about dedication and practice.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 09:22 am
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
What she really seems to be describing (at least to me, and I'm probably choosing the wrong words so someone correct me) is immigrant culture -- families that came to America with children wanting a better life.


I know what you mean, but I think that the immigrant culture thing interacts with the native culture as well. This was one of my Google results for "Chinese student suicide":

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/5907368/Wave-of-suicide-sweeps-Chinas-graduate-class.html

Quote:
July was supposed to have marked the start of Liu Wei's new life.
With more than six million other students across China, the 21-year-old was due to graduate from college this month.
For Miss Liu, the daughter of poor farmers, a degree was to be her passport out of a life of poverty, a way to escape working in the fields, or toiling as a humble migrant worker in a far-off factory in southern China.
But her dream of making the huge leap from farm girl to college graduate will never become reality. Deeply depressed and ashamed about her failure to find a job to take up when she graduated, and consumed with guilt about the financial sacrifices her family had made for her, Miss Liu brought her studies and her life to a premature end by drowning herself in a ditch full of freezing, filthy water.

[...]

Miss Liu's reaction to her predicament was extreme, but not unusual. In April, a report by the Shanghai Education Commission listed suicide as the leading cause of death among students.


boomerang wrote:
What bothers me is that she seems to think that ALL Chinese mothers are one way and all Western mothers are another way. I don't think this is true at all.


I agree with this. I think there are cultural trends but also a lot of variation.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 09:33 am
@boomerang,
Quote:
boomerang wrote:
What bothers me is that she seems to think that ALL Chinese mothers are one way and all Western mothers are another way. I don't think this is true at all.


she's describing a parenting style, not necessarily the ethnicity of the parents

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/family-and-relationships/confessions-of-a-tiger-mom-why-chinese-parenting-is-best/article1864813/

Quote:
Millions of people raise their children this way. It’s not just Chinese people. It’s really an immigrant thing. I know Indians and people from Nigeria and Ghana and Jamaica. Even some Irish. I did not write this book to promote the Chinese model. It’s as much about mistakes as it is about successes.


this part makes a lot of sense to me

Quote:
I haven’t done a study but I think that, ironically, although Western parents are the ones that worry so much about self-esteem – and Chinese parents don’t, they assume strength rather than fragility – I wonder if the Chinese approach isn’t better at creating self-esteem. You can coddle your child and tell them, “You’re the best no matter what.” But in the end, when they go out into the real world, I think it’s pretty tough out there and other children are cruel. When your child doesn’t do so well at school or make the team they’d wished they’d made or can’t get the job they want, that’s when people really lose self-esteem.

The happiness question is up for grabs. I definitely don’t think that one approach leads to happier children.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 09:46 am
@ehBeth,
Thanks for the link. A lot more nuance than in the original article.

(Interview with the author, bold is the interviewer.)

Quote:
Lulu rebelled on a family trip to Russia. It started with you calling her an “uncultured savage” for not trying the caviar in Red Square. It ended with her calling you a selfish, terrible mother and saying she hated the violin and you.

I felt, “Oh my gosh. Is my family falling apart?” At that moment I thought nothing is worth the possibility of losing my daughter. I needed to change. I went cold turkey.

But as rebellions go, Lulu’s isn’t earth-shattering. She scaled back the piano and took up tennis.

We’re in a much better place now. It’s still painful for me to be honest. I know that her violin is not at the same level any more. I know that she can never be as good a tennis player as she was a violin player. You just can’t start at 13. But the other day she said her most favourite thing was playing violin. That makes me happy.

I don’t think I’ve retreated on the academic front at all. We’re in hybrid mode right now. My daughters have so many more choices right now. They do have sleepovers and hang out with their friends now. Sophia just went to a rap concert.


Hybrid sounds much better to me than what she espouses in the article.
 

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