Last week, Chua published an excerpt of her memoir in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” which argues that rigid upbringings produce valuable members of society and that Westerners are too soft on their kids.
In the second paragraph, Chua claims her two daughters have been successful because they were never allowed to attend sleepovers, have playdates, participate in school plays, complain about not being able to do school plays, get anything less than an “A”, play any instrument other than the piano or violin, or opt out of playing the piano or violin, among other things.
“What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it,” Chua wrote. “The fact is that Chinese parents can do things that would seem unimaginable…to Westerners. Chinese mothers can say to their daughters, ‘Hey fatty—lose some weight.’ 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.”
When one of Chua’s daughters kept playing a piano piece wrong, Chua told her “to stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic.”
Catherine Connors, a writer and award winning parenting blogger, told The Daily Caller that Chua’s parenting methods are “beyond extreme” and could result in children becoming sick.
“When I heard about this article, my first reaction was that this had to be satire,” Connors told TheDC. “But obviously, it wasn’t, so my second reaction was that this is a borderline abusive parenting style. If these kids are shamed and harangued into performing well, what you end up seeing is they end up being sick.”
On the other hand, Connors said it’s important to have a certain amount of discipline in raising children, citing her own childhood upbringing as a positive example of how to grow up.
“I had a ‘mountain lion’ mom who had fair discipline,” Connors told TheDC. “My parents didn’t impose extreme discipline, nor have I on my kids. They’re small and I hope as they get older, there will be room for them to grow and fail. Learning that failure is something to be expected is also okay.”
Connors said Chua was wrong to forbid her daughters from joining activities that she didn’t select for them.
“She decided what activities they would do, and she said they couldn’t be part of school plays,” Connors said. “Chua decided their interests, which I think is unhealthy. It’s great to encourage children to do the best they can with hobbies, but children should have room to have passion, and they’re more likely to be happy if they do what they enjoy.”
Alice Bradley, a renowned mom blogger and co-author of “Let’s Panic About Babies!,” told TheDC that Chua’s article has some merit.
“If her focus is on creating high-achieving kids, she seems to have done that,” Bradley told TheDC. “Despite all the flak she’s getting, I think she had some valid points: The amount you practice a given instrument or sport is a much better predictor of later success in that subject than raw talent.”
Bradley added that Chua’s work is a memoir and not a how-to parenting guide, as many critics are treating it.
“It’s a book in which she fully admits to making some pretty big mistakes as a parent,” Bradley said. “It’s clear to me that ‘Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior’ was a search-engine optimized title created by the Wall Street Journal, I’m sure to increase the controversy. I think if the piece had had a different title, people’s hackles wouldn’t have been raised quite as much.”
Though Bradley doesn’t follow Chua’s parenting style, she sympathizes with Chua for getting such a negative backlash.
“As much as I differ with Ms. Chua’s parenting style, I have a lot of sympathy for her right now, given all the hate that’s been spewed toward her over the past week,” Bradley said. “She might not be a perfect parent, but she’s no monster.”