Mother Superior Mommy Dearest MY CHUA, A CHINESE-American professor at Yale Law School recently published an excerpt from her forthcoming book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, in an article for the Wall Street Journal. The awesomely unapologetic essay modestly titled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” details Professor Chua’s enhanced interrogation techniques Chinese style parenting methods. In the week since the controversial article was featured in the WSJ, many are now criticizing (what they consider to be) Ms. Chua’s extreme views on parenting. Some have written humorous responses to the article, others are calling her approach “backwards,” and still others say her techniques are flat out “wrong.” And then there is the response by David Brooks of the New York Times, in a league all by itself. Oh and there are also the biggest drama queens of them all those who are accusing Professor Chua of child abuse, promoting xenophobia among Chinese-haters, and of being a racist, among other ridiculous things. It’s all kinds of crazy, let me tell you. Furreal.
“Using the term ‘Western parents’ loosely,” (because you know, “Western parents come in all varieties”), yet speaking on behalf of “The Chinese” (who are obviously one mass homogeneous group of people), Professor Chua elaborates on what she calls the “permissive Western” parents’ approach vis-à-vis the “demanding Eastern” parents’ model on how to raise great kids. Or at the very least how she raises successful kids.
It’s funny how she mentions nothing about her children’s personalities. . .or their character. . .you know, trivial things. . .like whether or not her children suck as people. Hmmm.
That there are differences, great and small, to every and any extent among cultures is beyond obvious. “Imagine how boring the world would be if everyone were the fucking same,” and “Our differences makes us unique” and all that crap. Yeah, yeah. I get it. Shit, no two snowflakes are even made alike so I have no problem with the whole culture comparison thing. But it’d be a much more fascinating article if Ms. Chua wasn’t such a smug asshole about it. “Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight A’s,” she writes. But “Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best.” All good parents wanna be the best, but only Crouching Tiger, Hardass Mothers are the best. Nice try, America! But “if you aint first, you’re last.”
That there is trademarked, not to be used without written permission of Ricky Bobby, Inc.
Anyway, and just what are the differences between them? Nothing big, just that:
Western parents try to respect their children’s individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions, supporting their choices, and providing positive reinforcement and a nurturing environment. By contrast, the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they’re capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.
Chinese parents spend approximately 10 times as long every day drilling academic activities with their children. By contrast, Western kids are more likely to participate in sports teams.
If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A.
Western parents seem perfectly content to let their children turn out badly.
Chinese parents can [get away with saying] “Hey fatty—lose some weight.” By contrast, Western parents have to tiptoe around the issue, talking in terms of “health” and never ever mentioning the f-word, and their kids still end up in therapy for eating disorders and negative self-image.
And somewhere in between all that, Chua tells a
really cute story about the time her “cowardly, self-indulgent, and pathetic” daughter was struggling with learning her piano lessons. So she forced her daughter to practice the lesson and wouldn’t let her move from the piano–not for a bathroom break, or to eat and drink anything–until she got the thing down cold. Which is something Professor Chua calls “motivating” her children. Awww. Isn’t that like the cutest kids story you’ve ever heard?!
Um, and then there’s also the time she called her other daughter (the one that’s not “cowardly, self-indulgent, and pathetic”) “garbage.” Yeah. . .
It’s funny how Ms. Chua, being herself a professor of law, uses the phrase “legally actionable” to justify the aforementioned behaviors. Great. That’s just what we fucking need right now. Another Asian Professor manipulating the law to justify torture. I’m looking at you, John Fucking Yoo. I’m looking at you. ;-)
To be fair, Professor Chua’s book is actually a memoir and in no way offers any parental advice. It’s not a parenting book. People needa calm the fuck down.
Is it smart of her to talk about one race being superior than another, even if it’s just for one particular thing? No. But that’s what sells books
and everything else. You have to find a way to get people’s attention. And she sure did. And is talking about people’s mama in the same conversation even dumber? Hell yeah. That was a bitch move. She must’ve known that shit was coming. You never talk about people’s mama! Never. Not just in the Bronx, a n y w h e r e. She’s lucky this conversation didn’t happen between 174th and 175th st. in the Grand Concourse, though. That’s all I’ll say about that. But at least Ms. Chua has the balls to confront the stereotypes of Asian children (those ones we all know and talk about) and finally explains to us why they are quiet, nerdy, musical geniuses, and really fucking good at math. The Chinese ones, anyway. And Mr. Chua is not abusing her children. She’s a hardass. That’s all there is to it. ;-)
Where I come from, kids could fucking use more discipline and a stronger work ethic. Among many other things. Hell, I’m sure kids all across America can, too. Me? I’m not even sure if I wanna have children. Sometimes I like the idea of having a big family of my own (I come from a big family with lots of brothers and sisters–a big Latin family, there’s something you haven’t heard of before–so I never really consider that I might just have one child), but most of the time I don’t like the idea. I’m not a huge fan of kids. I’m prejudiced: I only like my nieces and nephews. I like em and all, but the jury’s still out on that one.
If I do have kids, one thing I know I won’t have to worry about is disciplining them. Chinese mothers may be “superior,” but the Latina mother has mastered the art of (what my brother refers to as) “the Chancleta Boomerang.” Chinese mothers will discipline a child by making her do 2,000 math problems a night. Western moms threaten their kids with a cheesy time out. And then there’s the Latina mother, who is trained in the ancient ways of the Chancletazo!
So what’s a Chancleta Boomerang, you ask? The answer comes courtesy of Ask-A-Latino:
The Chancleta Boomerang is a Latino phenomenon not easily understood by mainstream Americanos; it’s one of the most effective disciplinary methods in our culture. The Chancleta is really no more than a flip flop (the kind you would wear at the beach). But the Chancleta’s power comes from the mother’s ability to immediately resolve a disciplinary crisis by using the Chancleta to apply what we Latinos call a “pela” (a good old fashion ass whooping). The mere threat of the Chancleta to a child who has ever endured a “pela” will usually correct bad behavior. An incident in which someone approaches a Latino mother who is disciplining her child in public with a Chancleta to help the child will likely result in that person getting a “pela” themselves. A child that is at home misbehaving while his mother may be barefoot in the house knows that his mother, if forced into a conflict will actually make him go get the Chancleta for her so she can then resolve any behavioral issues.
(Being armed with two chancletas, one for each foot, gives the illusion of using it like a boomerang. The kid just got a chancleta to the face from across the room and is astonished to find the chancleta back in his mother’s hand. There’s like a whole science to it. ;-) )
I can’t speak for every single Latino out there (unlike Ms. Chua who arrogantly speaks for all Chinese); I consider myself more an Ambassador of Latino Culture, if you will. And I can say from personal experience, that a good Chancletazo or two, from your half Guatemalan, half Japanese mama will do the trick. Especially during those *difficult* teen years. So Guatemalanese mothers are pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good, too. And so are Chinese mothers.
Hey, y tu mamá también.
. . .
Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother is available now. Get it here.