2.04.2011

Chinese mother



Did you read the recent "Chinese mother" articles in the Wall Street Journal? One article praised strictness, saying that children need to be pushed and guided in their activities in order to develop new abilities. Learning to play the violin, for example, is really hard and unpleasant in the beginning. But once the child can play the Bach double, he probably secretly enjoys playing and certainly feels a sense of accomplishment which then increases self-esteem. The author stated that kids need to be pushed passed that hump of difficulty. After reading the first article my husband and I thought, yes, that's it, our kids need to develop more discipline. We shall be Chinese mother and Chinese father. So we tried it for many days. Can I just tell you, it was not fun. The tiger parent approached provoked tears, crumpling to the ground, stomping away and slamming of doors.


This article criticized the tiger mother, saying a more relaxed approach to parenthood is healthier.

What kind of parent are you? Are you Chinese mother?

28 comments:

Ana Degenaar said...

I am not Chinese mother but my mom was, I took ballet lessons from 3-16 and hated it for the most part but after I passed my teens I realized how much discipline and skills I got from performing that little task. I think I am more relaxed with my daughter but I still believe that sports and art give children a discipline base they will need then and in the future.
I loved this post. Thanks for sharing!

soisses said...

no i am not!

of course it is very very important to be consistent and authentic as a mother/father. and the child should have respect... BUT a child is a child and it`s very important, that the childhood is something lovely, funny and interesting... to become a fantastic human!

have a nice day, yours dani

Angeline said...

I love this issue - because it pushes all of us to examine "how" we parent - which is so important - we need feedback, advice and suggestions fro improvement anytime we practice a skill- I admit to be tyrannical about school work and skill practice - I also admit to indulging our "lazy" daydreaming sides.

Angeline said...

Oooh -fro - so not in the dictionary - apologies!

lynne said...

Oh, I'm so glad you wrote this! Steve and I just read the Time article about this and had a big discussion. He's more of a Tiger dad while I am as it turns out a Lamb mom. I definitely need more Tiger in me!

Bethany Hissong said...

In her book she says that she's had too make concessions and I saw her interviewed and she ended up letting her younger daughter quit the violin and she is now taking tennis lessons! So it really doesn't work for every child. High standards are good and we uphold them, but there is a vastly wider list of opportunities that we want our children to consider.

Stephanie said...

I guess I'm somewhere in between. I picked up my daughter today from her dance lesson to find that she had excused herself from the class to wait for me in the waiting area. She's 4. I was not happy and I told her so. I'm not forcing her to take dance lessons so I feel like if she asks for them and I pay for it and haul her all the way over there... that, barring something unforeseen, she should dance. I felt like other parents were secretly thinking that I was being too hard on her but really I have no idea what they were thinking so I guess part of me thought that was true.

kelly mccaleb said...

it is so against my nature to be strict as a mom, especially in extra curricular type stuff. but it was BECAUSE of that that i recently made some goals to help my daughter learn to do hard things. although i am a pianist, i detest helping her practice and she desperately wants to quit. i made this one of my goals. not even for piano's sake, but for both of our growth. it's working! but it's hard! but we are learning discipline.

the hooligan said...

i just wrote about this on nmy blog too (http://www.wabisabimama.com)! very interesting and provocative article - it has generated so much buzz and discussion, which i think is a good thing.
i have decided that i am not a tiger mother, though i would like to incorporate some aspects ot chua's disciplined method into my own. but mostly it just doesn't mesh with what feels intuitively right with me.

Jamie said...

Everybody's talking about this Chinese mother thing lately!

I definitely think we should expect a lot from our kids, but sports and music lessons are not necessarily it, in my opinion. I don't want my kids to grow up to be disciplined performers--in sports, or music. (Although those are nice hobbies.) I plan on training my kids to be responsible adults--to take care of their house, cars, finances, and pay for college.

Read Merilee Boyock's book, The Parenting Breakthrough. She has smart ideas on this topic, and plus she's really entertaining!

jamie said...

woops-- it's Boyack, not Boyock! typo. :)

Jennie said...

My kids aren't yet old enough for this to be an issue for us, but I've thought a lot about the topic. My own mother (whom I love dearly) was the opposite of a Tiger. I could convince her to let me quit anything that I wasn't enjoying at the moment, felt remotely uncomfortable with or perceived as difficult. As a result I went through half a dozen instruments without really learning to play any of them very well.

I know it's a cliched thing to say, but I now (never having experienced it, of course) wish that my mom would have forced me to stick to an instrument and practice consistently. It's not that I have unfulfilled dreams of being a world class violinist, but it would be quite satisfying to be fairly good at an instrument (in addition to to the other areas in my life that having learned discipline and dedication would have been helpful). Would I be glad if I had, indeed, grown up that way? Impossible to know, of course.

But since mine was the opposite experience, I lean more toward a strict approach to helping my children develop their talents. We'll see once I actually get started, though...

objectsofwhimsy said...

sometimes holding ground when there is practice to be done is not a bad thing particularly since the presence and temptations of mind numbing activities such as watching the TV can seem more enticing. On saying that I think it is more about the type of child you have mine was self driving and it was evident even as a baby. I never and I mean never had to tell her to do her homework she just did it and loved it. She wasnt perfect she wasnt into sport and never learnt to ride a bike obstinately refused my opportunities to learn. My sister has 3 children one is self driven, one has to be encouraged and the other flatly refuses to do anything without a battle. All receive the same love and attention. So some respond to chinese mother some may even respond to the occassional tiger mum but it is up to them to decide really.

Jennifer said...

Oh, please read this:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/18/opinion/18brooks.html?_r=1&ref=davidbrooks

I work at a school, I am raising an almost-13-year-old boy (who plays piano, goes to sleepovers and plays video games). Understand the points in the editoral, above -- SO much of what children REALLY need to learn comes from life experiences, not drilling facts or blind repetition.
What's important is parenting your child, in the way only you can for this person whom no one knows better than you, and what's important is growing up with the utter, constant, unfailing assurance that you are loved and valued, and that your mother's love does not hinge on *achievement.*

lynne said...

I love that David Brooks piece.

The other thing that I keep thinking about is Chua's statement that she assumes strength in her children rather than fragility - and thus pushes them hard because she knows they can do it. I thought that was really thought-provoking.

I also have been thinking about how I was/continue to be bad at math. My mom could've pushed me a lot harder to do better but she didn't, and while I didn't get fabulous grades in math, I have lots of sketchbooks full of drawings, etc. It's hard to say that math worksheets would have been a more valuable childhood experience.

This is such an interesting thing to think about -

hillary said...

I would like my daughter to learn perseverance, as I did not. It's easy, as a reasonably bright and well-behaved child, to go through life with everyone patting you on the head and saying, "Good job!" I didn't learn to keep trying when something was difficult. I didn't realize that practice DOES improve my ability to accomplish a task; I figured I was good at something (schoolwork) and not good at other things (sports) because I was born that way. I didn't understand that those kids who were better at t-ball than me had spent summer after summer playing the game every day. I thought they just came out of the womb that way! So while I don't employ the high pressure Tiger Mother techniques, I try to point out the hard work that leads to accomplishment, both in my daughter's life and in fictional or celebrity examples.

A corollary: my parents paid for my piano lessons for 12 years. They did not make me practice, and therefore I practiced as little as possible. I did have some natural musical talent that let me squeak by all those years, but I wish my parents had made me practice more. I think it would have been appropriate when I was in middle school to approach music lessons as a contract, where my parents promised to pay for lessons and transport me if I promised to put in a certain amount of time studying/practicing. I wanted to be an accomplished pianist, but I literally did not make the connection that putting in time would give me better results.

Carissa said...

I think if a child has made a commitment to learning something: sports, instruments, science, whatever, it is the parent's job to make sure that they follow through with it. My parents expected us to earn good grades and learn to play the piano, yet they never made us do our homework or practice the piano. Thus I had varied success with school and the piano. I know if my parents had pushed me at all I could have done much better.

I make sure my kids develop good studying habits by sitting with them and helping them with their homework (they are 8 and 5). They both take swimming lessons and I push them hard to do well.

Eva said...

yup, I am. My girl has just passed the hump with her Cello. The first one, anyway. I suspect that there will be more of them in the future.

Sandy said...

I think the violin is one of the most beautiful sounding instruments. I often cry when I hear particularly moving pieces. I used to play and now both my children are learning how to play (ages 4 and 6). In respect to the violin, I am more of a tiger mom but not as extreme as Chua is made out to be. I agree with you that the violin is a difficult instrument to play and most people give up before they even really start to appreciate it. I feel like a drill sargeant--your wrist is not straight!, your thumb is not curved! you're playing too close to the bridge!, etc. But I know that it is necessary to get the technique right and get over the hump (I think it's 3 years) before music is a joy, not a pain. All of this cannot happen without a lot of guidance and I have to say it--pushing. So far my children both love the violin even though it is tough instrument.

Asha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ostriches Look Funny said...

I will say that the method that was used in that article seemed to be against creativity and independence. I think it's important to instill discipline, but sometimes a child should be allowed to color outside the lines. Maybe that's my chemistry set talking...
disclaimer: I was an art major.

Liz R. said...

i've been thinking a lot about this article since i read it a few days ago! i wish that my mom would have pushed me a little harder. i was a self motivated child, but also am a person who likes to take short cuts (even as an adult). i liked getting A's in school, so I made sure to never challenge myself so hard as to take a class where i might, gasp, get a B...

i think the lady in the article is too harsh though, but i do agree that we need to push our children (and ourselves) to do things that we do not think we are capable of doing. (and i wonder how many kids raised like this need therapy if they don't meet up to their parents expectation!)

i wonder if "western parenting" correlates with christianity in the sense that there is more to life than the "wealth" and "power" that may eventually come from harsh discipline and perfect grades. that the life skills we learn from being kind and charitable to others through our social interactions be it sports, church, or friendships help us to not be so self centered.

there is obviously a balance, as there is in all things for sure!

Bethany Hissong said...

I came back to see what others wrote and it is really interesting to read the varied experiences. It seems though that we all are pretty much in agreement. Smart women!

Catherine said...

I would like to be but I'm too lazy. When I was teaching, the Chinese (actually) mother of a perfectly behaved Chinese girl came to parent-teacher interviews. She insisted that I tell her if her daughter misbehaved and enthusiastically informed me that they had a "big stick" at home. I guess that must do the trick. ;0)

Emily said...

My husband is the product of tiger parenting and I am not. We are both good at completely different things. I must say, he is amazingly capable at almost everything he sets his mind to. He is very efficient. I am more laid back and get things done (eventually) at my own pace. I wasn't pushed to accomplish a particular list of items, but rather just expected to do my best overall, in whatever that may be. Both methods, we feel, had positive and negative effects. So, I think the combination of our two experiences has created a pretty good hybrid parenting style. The funny thing is, my husband now pushes ME to do things that I don't think I can do! Let's talk about the 1/2 marathon I'm running in a week... ha ha ha!

Paloma said...

Chinese parents.. tell me about it. That approach can, almost carelessly, destroy the person that a child was born to be. I know it... by experience.

Jen @ The Gifted Giver said...

Funny! We just got back from Beijing and I talked to a few Chinese mothers about this. They all said (unrelated) that it is a big crock of bull.That it is not the norm in China to be a Tiger Mother and that this woman is not the norm. Interesting that it is a big deal here in America.

www.madrid-3d.com said...

It won't truly have success, I consider this way.