NY Times Columnist: Tiger Mother Coddles Her Kids

Remember our post on Amy Chua, the so-called Tiger Mother who asserted that her extreme "Chinese"-style of parenting produces superior children?

Chua didn’t let her own girls go out on play dates or sleepovers. She didn’t let them watch TV or play video games or take part in garbage activities like crafts. Once, one of her daughters came in second to a Korean kid in a math competition, so Chua made the girl do 2,000 math problems a night until she regained her supremacy. Once, her daughters gave her birthday cards of insufficient quality. Chua rejected them and demanded new cards. Once, she threatened to burn all of one of her daughter’s stuffed animals unless she played a piece of music perfectly.

As a result, Chua’s daughters get straight As and have won a series of musical competitions.

In her book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” Chua delivers a broadside against American parenting even as she mocks herself for her own extreme “Chinese” style. She says American parents lack authority and produce entitled children who aren’t forced to live up to their abilities.

Well, after the predictable blogorage that swept through the Internet (Amy, a Yale law professor, even got death threats), David Brooks writes in this New York Times Op-Ed that she's actually coddling her kids:

The furious denunciations began flooding my in-box a week ago. Chua plays into America’s fear of national decline. Here’s a Chinese parent working really hard (and, by the way, there are a billion more of her) and her kids are going to crush ours. Furthermore (and this Chua doesn’t appreciate), she is not really rebelling against American-style parenting; she is the logical extension of the prevailing elite practices. She does everything over-pressuring upper-middle-class parents are doing. She’s just hard core. [...]

I have the opposite problem with Chua. I believe she’s coddling her children. She’s protecting them from the most intellectually demanding activities because she doesn’t understand what’s cognitively difficult and what isn’t.

Practicing a piece of music for four hours requires focused attention, but it is nowhere near as cognitively demanding as a sleepover with 14-year-old girls. Managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, navigating the distinction between self and group — these and other social tests impose cognitive demands that blow away any intense tutoring session or a class at Yale.

Link (Image: Tiger Mother nursing piglets in a Thai Zoo)


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D.D., you're obviously a guy who's never had to negotiate the cruel, unforgiving societal jungle that is "Girl World."

But yeah, I can't wait to read the book her daughters are going to write about her someday. It won't be pretty.
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Clearly the style that Amy promotes in her book can only contribute to worsening the relationship between the child and the parent. Everyone knows that parents should play the role of supporters and encourage their children to pursue their interests rather than forcing them into doing something they don't like. The right approach is to find a certain balance between your aspirations as a parent and the actual capacity of your child to perform well in every aspect of his or her life.
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Learning by rote, by fear, by intimidation may make for perfect performance time and time again, but it won't make for innovation thought and the creative process that it will take to go the distance in the next 50 years.

You CAN beat knowledge into children and adults. The Chinese brainwash people all the time with "re-education" and such.

We need to ask the questions how do we continue to produce people who will think outside the box, questions the status quo, go to the end of the edges of the human condition and push us upwards on in our evolution.

We need revolution in our thought, we need music we can't hear yet.
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"Practicing a piece of music for four hours requires focused attention, but it is nowhere near as cognitively demanding as a sleepover with 14-year-old girls. Managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, navigating the distinction between self and group — these and other social tests impose cognitive demands that blow away any intense tutoring session or a class at Yale."

What crap. We deserve to fail if this is really what we believe.
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