I am a Western mom. I allow my children to have playdates, sleepovers, choose their own extra circular activities, let them be in a school play/ballet and I let them watch tv. According to Amy Chua, my children will never fare as well as her children or those of Chinese moms. In fact, Chinese moms are Superior.
I know! I was shocked too.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Amy Chua clearly explains the difference (in her opinion) between Western moms and Chinese moms. She explains that she uses the terms Western and Chinese loosely, but her message is clear – Western mothers don’t have what it takes to raise the valedictorian, scientists and Carnegie Hall musicians. Western working moms are too tired and exhausted to give 150%+. For the record, Amy Chua is a working mom – Professor at Yale.
In her article, Amy Chua, without regret or apologies, explains how she had once called her daughter garbage after displaying rude behavior. She also recalls the intense battle she fought with her youngest daughter over learning “Little White Donkey” on the piano. She subscribes to the philosophy of verbally belittling the child so that they are driven and determined to prove her wrong. She goes on to explain that Chinese moms don’t love their children any less, they just don’t expect anything but the best from their children. On the contrary, Western moms coddle and cajole their children in doing homework, reading and practicing their instruments.
My children are still very young. In fact, my oldest is just beginning to realize that there ARE differences among her classmate’s knowledge base. I am not sure what approach I will take as both my children get older, but I do know this: Bella is at her best when I sit with her when she is doing her homework or sit with her when she reads. I have let her try gymnastics and soccer and made her finish both sports when she complained she hated it and begged me to stop taking her. I let her have her playdates and watch tv when and only when her homework is done and/or chores complete. Yes, when I get home from work, I am tired and would rather relax with a glass of wine than think of words that have “sh” in them (don’t get me started on that one). But this is the path I chose. I work full-time and I give my children my full-time too. I make it work even I am at my whit’s end. I am a Western mom and I am not lazy. I think playdates, sleepovers and choosing groups, clubs and sports help children develop into well-adjusted working members of society.
I suppose Amy Chau’s tactics and beliefs have validity in her world. Her daughter did perform at Carnegie Hall at age 14. So maybe her daughter missed sleepovers and playdates and watching tv…is she better off than Bella or Mikey? Maybe yes…. or then again maybe not!