Why this Chinese mother says she is better than the rest of us

CAU coverI don’t usually look to the Wall Street Journal for a dose of parental perspective-skewing, but they printed a doozy over the weekend: an essay by law professor and mom Amy Chua explaining, for the record, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior. I never felt like they were, necessarily; I can’t say I gave it much thought at all. But Ms. Chua is here to tell us moms like her (Chinese or not) are right, and the rest of us are wrong. To wit:

The fact is that Chinese parents can do things that would seem unimaginable– even legally actionable– to Westerners. Chinese mothers can say to their daughters, “Hey fatty– lose some weight.”

Don’t you wish you could do that, Western moms? Isn’t that so clearly superior to the way you might do things?

By contrast, Western parents have to tiptoe around the issue, talking in terms of “health” and never ever mentioning the f-word, and their kids still end up in therapy for eating disorders and negative self-image.

Right. Whereas if you just berated and shamed your child yourself, rather than letting society do it, she’ll still have an eating disorder but your own personal shame will prevent her from getting that embarrassing therapy, yet she’ll be skinny enough to be perceived as perfect. Can you not see how much better that is?


How about grades? Are you screaming and tearing your hair out when your child comes home with B’s? Well, WHY NOT? Get on the superlative Chinese program: 

If their child doesn’t get [A’s], the Chinese parent assumes it’s because the child didn’t work hard enough. That’s why the solution to sub-standard performance is always to excoriate, punish, and shame the child.

This essay is full of bons mots like these that will have you flipping back to the front of the paper to make sure you aren’t reading The Onion. Yes, Ms. Chua’s daughter has played Carnegie Hall. She also never went on a playdate or watched television. EVER. Not once. According to Ms. Chua. Wonder if the kid thinks it was worth the cost.


But let’s not make the Chinese mother the enemy, because Ms. Chua thinks that’s totally unfair: 

There are all these new books out there portraying Asian mothers as scheming, callous, overdriven people indifferent to their kids’ true interests.

Yeah, you authors, stereotyping Chinese mothers! Cut it out!  There’s no need for you to vilify mothers like Ms. Chua. She seems to be doing a pretty good job of it herself.


Thanks to sheposts.com for including this blog in its roundup of the blogosphere’s response to  Ms. Chua’s essay. Check it out- more interesting reading…