So much rawr-ing in the last few weeks about Amy Chua’s shocking mothering memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother!
The explosion began with Chua’s piece in the Washington Post called “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” where she proudly announced her strict parenting regimen of three-hour violin and piano practice sessions, shame-inducing insults and a no-sleepovers-or-anything-fun-EVER policy for her two daughters. Chua insists that the kind of cruel discipline present in first and second generation Chinese (and other immigrant) families is necessary to produce skilled, responsible adults—or at least avoid raising the kind of bratty, entitled shmucks who seem to be overtaking our country.
Folks, especially Jewish mothers, are pissed. The New York Times reports Chua has been called a “monster” and received death threats for her provocative support of a parenting style that’s put many into therapy for life.
Personally, I’m impressed Chua has enough confidence in her parenting skills to share them as if they’re actually working. I mean, how do you know? When they get into a good college—but then binge drink and screw the debate team? When they score a fat job after graduation but develop a secret heroin problem? I want my kids to be happy, productive citizens, and all I know is that they absolutely cannot be trusted to figure how do this on their own.
While I worry terribly over their self-esteems, and El Yenta Man cannot seem to give up his penchant for getting a little too involved in science fair projects, I kind of believe in Chua’s philosophy of demanding they do their homework, respect their elders and work their little tushies off to excel:
What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences. This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up.
Fundamental stuff, no? Not that anyone would ever accuse us of being Tiger parents: Last night at 10pm, one kid had literally have his iPod pried away from him because he said he wouldn’t go to sleep until he surpassed Level 16 on “Angry Birds” while the other one was riding a broom around the house in her underwear pretending to be Witchy Lady Gaga.
You’d think we could count ourselves as doing something right since Yenta Boy practices piano for hours a day without being asked. Yet this does this not puff my pride up like a mother peacock whose progeny has scored with every hen in the yard. Why? Because instead of tackling the simple arrangement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” that his teacher assigned him months ago, he gleefully bangs out the same damn jaunty three chords of Cee Lo Green’s “F*ck You.”
At least he sings the clean lyrics?