Monday, January 10, 2011

Are Chinese Mothers Really Better? (Toddler-Teenager)

Amy Chua’s “Why Chinese Mother’s Are Superior” in her new essay, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was an interesting read to say the least.  There were times I wanted to throw the paper (my copy was in the Wall Street Journal) into the trash and other times that I laughed out loud because I have done the same thing!   According to her, the Chinese way of mothering is better than the Western way of mothering because they have figured out how to give their children true success while we western mothers are clueless.  She delightfully and spitefully shares her secrets with us.   

Her mantras are NO to: sleep overs, playdates, video games, being in a school play, t.v. watching, getting any grade less than an A, being the number one student in every class, and any instrument playing except the piano or violin.  And you may wonder how she enforces these mandates onto her two beautiful young girls.  Well apparently she threatens, coerces, and yells a lot.   She even mentions one yelling spree when she lost her voice because of her intense decibels.   Another time she would not let her daughter off of the piano bench even to go to the bathroom, until a difficult part of a piano piece was mastered.  This would be a nightmare for any child.

However, as much as I am disgusted by Mrs. Chua’s methods, I believe she has touched on a couple aspects of mothering that all of us need to implement.  

Eliminating The Distractions
While I don’t completely take away all t.v. video games, sports activities, drama, and social engagements, I do control them with a tight fist.  We don’t let our children play any video games, watch t.v. or movies Monday through Thursday.  We also only allow one extracurricular activity at a time.   We let friends come over during the week, only after their homework is done.  And if one child is still working on homework, no one may have a friend over.  They all have to be done.  And they do their homework as soon as their snack is over right after they get off the bus!  This gives them plenty of time to finish.  

Encouraging Hard Work
While Mrs. Chua enforced hard work, I encourage it.  We have a system of rewards and consequences for everything from grades to behavior.  We use something called Hinton Bucks and a Hinton Store to reward the good stuff.  We take away privileges for bad choices. 

Do It Together
Even while I am writing this I notice that I keep putting “we”, because I do not parent alone.  My husband and I are not at odds with each other as Mrs. Chua is.  We try to back each up and to privately talk if there is something we are concerned with.  We present our children with a united front.

If you would like to read Mrs. Chua’s essay piece for yourself go to: .  The entire essay will be published by Penguin Press and released Tuesday, January 11th.  
 What philosophies of mothering  do you hold?   What resources do you use to motivate your children?


  1. Interesting you asked about motivating children. Just wrote about that in one of my blogs today. We must parent a lot like you when it comes to extra-curricular activities, work, and video games. Glad we're not the only "weird" parents out there.