Forum

Tiger Mother’s harsh parenting techniques do not ensure superiority

We read with alarm the controversial article “Why Chinese mothers are superior” published by The Wall Street Journal two weeks ago. Amy Chua, a successful Yale Law School professor, author, and Chinese mother, presented audiences with an excerpt from her upcoming book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, detailing exactly what the article title suggests in a rather arrogant and close-minded fashion.

At first glance, the glowing accolades Chua says her daughters have received for their piano prowess, perfect grades, and being great at life in general would intimidate the average bystander. But what we see in this praise is just one facet of success. Chua’s parenting ways do have merit, and stereotypes often have a kernel of truth, yet Chua’s article is just a self-serving glorification of herself.

To be fair, the entire “Asian parent” stereotype does have wide acceptance and an impressive track record. Singapore, South Korea, and Japan consistently compete for the top spots in science and math test scores, with up-and-coming China not far behind. While Asian-Americans make up only 5 percent of the population in the U.S., their presence is disproportionately represented in universities. But before we give Chua and her stereotype too much credit, how do we explain that Asian-Americans — especially young Asian-American women ages 15 to 24 — have the highest suicide rate in America out of all minority groups? Unyielding pressure to succeed may have tragic consequences.

Chua’s blunt glorification of Asian parenting cannot justify itself with her or her children’s success. One nasty line, “Western parents have to struggle with their own conflicted feelings about achievement, and try to persuade themselves that they’re not disappointed about how their kids turned out,” is just one example of racism and arrogance combined with an inflated self-worth. Parenting is one of the most unconstrained jobs there is, and each parent instills diverse values that he or she deems vital to healthy growth, both physically and mentally. Condensing an 18-year stretch into a formula is not smart at all, but rather pessimistic — strict parenting, no independence, and a nothing-but-perfectionism attitude suggests that Chua does not believe she can raise two “successful” daughters by being nothing short of a tyrant, but also that she thinks that only by imposing mental duress and pressure will anyone find happiness. At the very least, she could be tactful.