Her fellow parents have described “Tiger Mother” Amy Chua’s child-rearing methods as “beyond extreme” and abusive, but Chua’s daughter Sophia is thankful for certain aspects of her strict upbringing.
In a letter to the New York Post, Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld responded to the critics of her mother’s recent Wall Street Journal piece, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” which details the numerous restrictions Chua imposed upon her two daughters during their childhood. Among many other things, Chua has been blasted for forbidding her daughters from attending sleepovers and calling one of her girls lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent, and pathetic for playing a piano piece incorrectly.
In “Why I Love My Strict Chinese Mom,” Chua-Rubenfeld says outsiders don’t know what her family is actually like.
“[Outsiders] don’t hear us cracking up over each other’s jokes,” Chua-Rubenfeld wrote. “They don’t see us eating our hamburgers with fried rice. They don’t know how much fun we have when the six of us — dogs included — squeeze into one bed and argue about what movies to download from Netflix.”
Though it was “no tea party” growing up under all Tiger Mother’s rules, Chua-Rubenfeld claims to be more independent as a result of her rigid upbringing.
“I pretty much do my own thing these days — like building greenhouses downtown, blasting Daft Punk in the car with Lulu and forcing my boyfriend to watch ‘Lord of the Rings’ with me over and over — as long as I get my piano done first,” Chua-Rubenfeld wrote.
Chua-Rubenfeld may have thicker skin than her mother’s critics think. Chua has received lots of flak for rejecting the “not good enough” birthday cards her daughters made, but Sophia writes that she wasn’t all that offended.
“Funny how some people are convinced that Lulu and I are scarred for life. Maybe if I had poured my heart into it, I would have been upset. But let’s face it: The card was feeble, and I was busted. It took me 30 seconds; I didn’t even sharpen the pencil. That’s why, when you rejected it, I didn’t feel you were rejecting me. If I actually tried my best at something, you’d never throw it back in my face.”
Chua-Rubenfeld revealed that her mother enabled her to break free a little in high school.
“All the girls started wearing makeup in ninth grade. I walked to CVS to buy some and taught myself how to use it,” Chua-Rubenfeld wrote. “You were surprised when I came down to dinner wearing eyeliner, but you didn’t mind. You let me have that rite of passage.”
An earlier version of this article misstated the title of Chua’s Wall Street Journal article.