‘Tiger mother’ is more than a bad parent

By Kay Nguyen

Boy am I glad I didn’t grow up under the iron fist of an Amy Chua-esque Asian “Tiger” mother. Also, I don’t think she is a mother at all.

In a Wall Street Journal piece entitled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” Chua explains her parenting skills and how everyone could use them to ensure their children become math and music phenoms.

The way the Professor of Law at Yale Law School handles parenting is actually a hands-off approach, believe it or not.

Tactics for Chua’s “successful” child-rearing include not allowing her daughters to attend sleepovers, go on playdates, do extracurricular activities other than those approved, watch TV and play computer games, get bad grades and play instruments aside from the piano and violin.

That makes the 30 minutes of daily TV time I got seem luxurious and reminds me of the fun sleepovers I got to attend.

While her daughters may be accomplished piano and violin players who both get perfect grades, Chua has not taught anything to them. That includes work ethic.

By depriving her daughters Louisa and Sophia of any perceived distractions, she has done them a disservice.

They have not been thrust into real-world situations, and even if they are able to obtain the Ivy League degrees and academic statuses their parents obtained, they will never reach the pinnacle of success.

A well-rounded person must be book smart, street smart and be able to navigate through situations that arise in real life.

Being able to focus in on only one or two things at a time is hardly an in-demand skill.

As a person who has oftentimes been stereotyped as an overachieving Asian-American kid, I have to speak out and say Chua’s style of parenting is definitely not the norm.

My parents always joke about the fact that I stayed in violin and piano lessons for only a few months and while they always stressed that a strong background in mathematics and the sciences was important, it was never the determining factor of my success.

Chua’s perpetuation of the stereotype in a major publication — one that is often backed up by data and facts about test scores and intelligence quotient numbers — is not a good representation of the typical Asian parent.

The excerpt of Chua’s book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” has caused an uproar and I am not going to even touch on some of the juicy stuff.

I shouldn’t even have to argue about why calling your child “garbage” is wrong and does nothing but hinder their self-esteem.

I’m not scared to speak about cultural stereotypes and know there are Chinese, or Asian-American parents in general, who do not fulfill the image Chua puts out.

While there has to be an emphasis on school education, it has to be balanced with educating children on life choices.

While the Journal excerpt is only one part of her memoir and does not intend to dish out advice, Chua hasn’t exactly said she exaggerated the specific passage.

What irks me is the fact that Chua’s column generated over 4,000 comments on WSJ.com

Most are about her strict approach to parenting, which I don’t believe is a form of parenting at all.

I applaud parents like those featured in this week’s center feature on pages 12 and 13 who are able to balance their lives between school, work and children.

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