Sunday, January 9, 2011

Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior

I found this article to be fascinating.  One, from the perspective of just how phenomenally well this woman fits into a stereotype that I had in my mind; two, from a sense that in and among a great bit of really, really over the top stuff here--there is goodness in what she says; and three, just how inconsistent her approach is with a desire for well-balanced children.  

Professor Chua and her children
We have become a nation of coddlers, bumper sticker purveyors who prop up our addicted children with endless validation and paeans to inflate their precious self-esteem.  We elevate student loans to a natural right, and we mandate dependence on parental healthcare until an age long associated with having families of one's own.

Into this situation strides confident, lecturing Amy Chua, Yale Law professor and the anti-Christ to a generation of indulgent, guilt-ridden American parents. 

I am often accused of being hard on children.  I am consequence driven and patient and hard enough to outlast most of their histrionics.  Much of what Professor Chua laid out seemed to me to be common sense, and yet, I came away with a nagging sense that something was missing.  I now know what it is.

Joy.  While I'm sure Ms. Chua's kids have acceptable instances of joy in their largely regimented lives, I find her prescription to be one designed--implicitly or explicitly--to destroy many of the joy-making opportunities to which children in America are routinely exposed.  Is a sleepover really evil?  Is a playdate really going to knock the little one off her rise to Julliard or MIT?

Ms Chua's plan seems perfectly suited to producing human equivalents of racing greyhounds--performance bred beings for whom larger social structures are ill-suited, and who ultimately find little place of comfort outside the realm of competence for which they were trained.  I'm sure Professor Chua's little girls are wonderful creatures.  But how different they must now feel from the world in which they live--with little prospect for that ever to change. 

I see at work here something I see in the home schooling movement, or at least among some of its adherents--and that is, disdain for the larger culture and an impulse to isolate from it in order not to be infected by it.  I don't like this.

Additionally, while I criticize our society for its over-indulgence in the artificial propping of the self-esteem of children, Professor Chua's approach seems equally out of proportion, but in favor of parents--as in, the job of the children is to perfectly reflect the wonder and insight of such effective parents.  Her article drips with the sense that her sense of self will somehow be lessened if one of her children comes in second place, or that she would somehow have dishonored her parents had she wound up in pharmaceutical sales rather than as a Yale Law professor.

Aristotle got it right 2300 years ago when he described The Golden Mean as the desirable middle between two extremes.  Professor Chua has done us all a service by describing one such extreme. 

8 comments:

John Blackthorne said...

Sounds like Mamasan has it all under control. But the problem here is that those girls look like round eyes, and even if they weren't, they aren't in the homogeneous confines of Shanghai where this type of parenting is the norm rather than the extreme.

I've got a fist full of dollar bills that those two girls will be flaming lesbian pole dancers by the time they're 21.

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"The Hammer" said...

Part of the problem is we push back adulthood. My parents got married at 18 my mother's first child at 19. I was the last child born when my mother was 25. They bought their first house at 22 (one of those 1100 sq. ft. brick ranch with one bath). This was not unusual back in the day but if you see a woman like this now you immediately think ghetto-hound.
Look at all the great movers and shakers throughout history. You may be surprised at their youth and I'm not just talking about Al the Great etc. The Beatles split the band when they were 28.
The idea that a 26 year old is considered a child is absurd. A 26 year old living at home is a bum. The Asians don't play this nonsense and that's something we should relearn.

Tom de Plume said...

I agree with the wit who posted on your Facebook page that he pities whatever children would result from a union of the CW and this Chinese mother.

Anonymous said...

Why is a 45yr old unmarried guy with no kids commenting on raising kids?

Wyle Doats said...

No kids that he "knows of" you mean.

Bryan said...

To play off Hammer's comment, I think pushing back child rearing also makes us much more risk-averse and controlling as parents. We had our first child in our 20s and she is heading off to college now. If I were starting now in my 40s, I'm sure I would be pico-managing my kids' lives. When you're young, you're more willing to let them figure out what they want on their own.

Dan said...

I have one, very simple explanation for what ails the children of today:

Bumpers that prevent bowling balls from going into the gutter.

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