START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
924,731 people care about Women's Rights

Amy Chua, An All-American Mother: That’s What the Chinese Version Says

Amy Chua, An All-American Mother: That’s What the Chinese Version Says

Tiger Mom, we hardly knew ye.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, the recently-published book by Yale Law School professor Amy Chua about how she successfully raised her two daughters by relying on being a ‘Chinese mother’ and not giving in to the touchy-feely ‘child-led’ practices Western-style parenting, has already found its way into bookstores in Beijing. As today’s Wall Street Journal reports, in an interesting twist, Chua’s book, which is based on the premise that there’s something about Chinese culture that makes for superior parenting, has been translated into Chinese with a title that suggests something quite the opposite from what she herself argues. Here’s the Chinese title:
Woo tzai mei guo tsuoh ma ma
Woo (I)   tzai (in)  mei guo (America) tsuoh (work, make, act) ma ma (Mom)

And here’s my really rough translation:

‘I do Mom in America.’
This title suggests that whatever Chua has to say about raising her two daughters is due to her being an American mother—which is quite the opposite of what  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother argues.

Referencing an article in the Chinese newspaper Xinhua, the Wall Street Journal says:

a Chinese-language version of Ms. Chua’s book, whose English title is “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” has hit the shelves in Beijing. As Xinhua notes, the cover of the Chinese edition of the book is substantially different from the original, featuring a photo of a smiling Ms. Chua standing against a red, white and blue map of the United States.

The Chinese edition’s title translates to “Being a Mom in America,” or, as Xinhua rendered it, “Being an American Mum.”

 

What’s especially of interest are some of the reactions of (actual) Chinese parents to Chua’s book. From Xinhua:

 

Yu Shasha, a doctor at Beijing Shijitan Hospital, says she was not a tiger mother because her daughter, a graduate of Imperial College London, had enough stress.

“With so many children competing for limited first-class schools, Chinese kids must get accustomed to the test-oriented education system and stand out in exams. As a result, they must sacrifice their spare time to a range of training classes,” says Yu. “Most parents, including myself, are more concerned now about how to ease their burden rather than giving them more stress.”

A survey jointly released by the Beijing Times and the Education Channel of the Sina.com last week shows that about 50.1 percent of Chinese students are sleep-derived and stay up past 10 p.m on school days. The situation was worse than 2004, when a survey by the China Youth and Children Research Center found the proportion was roughly 47 percent.

Zhao Hua, a former journalist who emigrated to the United States, says Chinese parents hate to see their kids burning the candle at both ends in order to deal with fierce competition.

“The Western parenting philosophy of letting kids be kids, develop their own hobbies and make their own decisions is gaining credence in China. Financially-capable parents would rather encourage their kids to study abroad in a relaxed environment,” says Zhao.

 

Indeed, it can be said that Chua’s version of ‘Chinese parenting’ is one that is increasingly outdated in China.

 

Lu Jun, executive director of a Beijing English Education Group, says China’s comparative advantages in basic education were “paradoxical.”

“It is exciting to see so many Chinese kids excelling in math tests, but so far China has no Nobel laureates. By contrast, more than 70 percent the global Nobel laureates are Americans whose population is less than 5 percent of the world,” says Lu.

“A key reason is that the teaching methods of Chinese schools and parents are test-oriented, which fails to inspire kids to use their knowledge in real life.”

 

All of this suggests that Chua’s claims that she drew on Chinese culture to raise her daughters ‘tiger mother’ style is potentially inaccurate and even in danger of reinforcing stereotypes of Asian Americans and Chinese women. Chua says that it was all right for her to use the ‘extreme parenting’ techniques she describes (calling her children ‘garbage’; threatening to destroy their stuffed animals; chiding her younger daughter for not following what a famous violin teacher requests, even after the teacher hits her daughter’s hand with a pencil) because they are based in Chinese tradition. Chinese people, Chua claims, use a kind of ‘tough love’ that suggests the depth of their commitment to their children, as they are willing to put themselves through so much (supervising hours and hours of practice time on two instruments with two different children): No flaky, wussy, ‘I feel your pain’ American-style parenting here. 

But more and more, I think it’s becoming clear that Chua’s ‘extreme parenting’ is idiosyncratic to her. Chua’s claim that such parenting is ‘Chinese’ is a strategy to exonerate herself for being, well, so extreme.

Previous Care2 posts
The Sad Truth About the Tiger Mother

What We Can Learn From the Chinese Education System and ‘Tiger Mothering’

Read more: , , , , , ,

Photo by digitalART2.

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

52 comments

+ add your own
10:57PM PST on Nov 17, 2013

mapmystudy.com is a platform for students where they get legitimate information about Study Abroadand its resources like Scholarship, accommodation, finance, Course search and much more. Through our online search mechanism, one can not only map their study & career but also search and apply to Overseas Education institutes according to their choice of study and country.

6:05AM PDT on Apr 8, 2012

I'm hoping this not the rules for all but the cruelty of Chinese aducationis very scary indeed I once saw a documentary on little children chosen to be in an gymnastic school very young it was heartbreaking it was only abuse on young children where many some would become successful athletes but at what price...I have difficulty to comprehend how cold hearted and insensitive this is....the Chinese have a lot to learn in education and empathy ...

2:37AM PST on Feb 11, 2011

Thank you for posting.

1:33PM PST on Jan 29, 2011

I have a grand-daughter who was adopted from China. Her mother does tend to push her to get perfect school grades..so she can get a college scholarship. My granddaughter has spent hours of studying on her school work and does get good grades...but, she is not involved in any school activities..she is now in 9th grade and has never been involved in sports or music. She only seems to have one friend at a time and that is for only short periods of time. She is so different from my other granddaughter, who may not have the best grades, but is in her second year of basketball and track and is on the Student Council and has lots of friends. She is an 8th grader. Two very different styles of parenting of these girls...and grandma is in the middle.

9:52AM PST on Jan 29, 2011

I've worked for a large post-secondary institution for years and I witnessed time and time again a large number of Chinese students getting caught with cheating. So what drives this cheating? It's this insane pressure to succeed and not fail. If failing is getting an A-, as Amy Chua proudly says as a good mother, is not good enough, then it's no wonder the cheating practices are prevalent among Asian students....

Not to say that only Asian students cheat--I am Asian myself and have NEVER cheated for any test, exam, or paper--and I had a caucasian boyfriend who tried to cheat off of one of my exams and I completely lost it on him for doing so. But then again, my parents weren't checking my grades or telling me what to do with my degree.

But demanding such obedience from a child could foster a lack of creativity since the measure of perfection is always against that of a master. I'm sure her children will master the songs of others as they slave away at their violin and piano (I read her article in the Wall Street Journal).

I just hope they find it in themselves to give their mom the middle finger once in a while and just rock out to their own compositions, make out with a crush, and not end up like Natalie Portman's character in the Black Swan.

8:53AM PST on Jan 29, 2011

I wouldn't want Chua as my parent.

10:10PM PST on Jan 28, 2011

thanx for info

5:22PM PST on Jan 28, 2011

Thanks for the info.

1:04AM PST on Jan 28, 2011

Good grief, hasn't anyone ever noticed the personality tendencies of the Chinese culture in general? I sure have, and what I know of the "Tiger Mother" well exemplifies these tendencies. The Chinese tend to be all pragmatism and toughness, very little tenderness or sentiment. I guess in today's difficult world, that will serve the Chinese very well (already is, as they're surpassing us on all fronts already) -- but still, kinda sad if you ask me. I'm a slacker and ne'er-do-well, a schemer and a dreamer.... the Chinese would probably whack me and sell my body parts, pleased to be cleansing the gene pool in the bargain, LOL.

1:02AM PST on Jan 28, 2011

Good grief, hasn't anyone ever noticed the personality tendencies of the Chinese culture in general? I sure have, and what I know of the "Tiger Mother" well exemplifies these tendencies. The Chinese tend to be all pragmatism and toughness, very little tenderness or sentiment. I guess in today's difficult world, that will serve the Chinese very well (already is, as they're surpassing us on all fronts already) -- but still, kinda sad if you ask me. I'm a slacker and ne'er-do-well, a schemer and a dreamer.... the Chinese would probably whack me and sell my body parts, pleased to be cleansing the gene pool in the bargain, LOL.

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free
CONTACT THE EDITORS

Recent Comments from Causes

meet our writers

Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
ads keep care2 free

more from causes




Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.