“Chinese” Mothering Isn’t for Me

Mon, January 17, 2011


2011 is a tough time to be a parent in America.  Explaining to our children why a nine-year-old was shot and killed in a rampage in Arizona.   Managing the amount of pop culture exposure one’s child should have (if any) to keep from being a social outcast at school.  And now if one isn’t a “Chinese mother,” we’re dooming our children to a life of mediocrity, if not outright failure.

I’m still working on the first two, but as for being a Chinese mother a la the just-released memoir “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” that’s something I’ll never be, even though my daughter is Chinese by heritage.  If you ask her, PunditGirl will gladly tell you I am the most strict mom in the world, so, by author Amy Chua’s definition, maybe I have a little of her Chinese mom in me.  I admit, I lean toward an unmovable line in the sand when it comes to things like getting homework done, the very little amount of back-talk I’m willing to put up with and when lights must be off at bedtime.  But if you ask some of the other moms I know, they’ll tell you that I’m a bit lenient — while we have a ‘no Wii’ rule on school nights at our house, I do let PunditGirl watch some TV after dinner during the week if all her work is done, because I know she’ll spend at least a half hour reading on her own before bedtime, and there’s nothing like family movie night with popcorn here at Chez PunditMom.

But in our house, there’s no sleep or water deprivation as apparently was the case in Chua’s household to create musical prodigies.  And while I’m no saint and definitely lose my temper some times, I steer clear of name-calling or mockery as a way to get PunditGirl to do what I’ve asked her to do.

So what am I?  The “too easy” mom who thinks it’s always a good time for some hugs or the taskmaster who wants her child to look at me when speaking?  I think I’m neither, but the exercise of asking the questions makes me wonder how we’ve become a society of self-doubters when it comes to parenting.

That’s why “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” is destined for the best-seller list.  Just as we were fascinated with Mommie Dearest, we’re willing to take medical advice from would-be starlet Jenny McCarthy and rush to buy any new parenting tome that claims it will set our kids up for the Ivy League, Chua’s supposed journey to self-discovery (you be the judge) is bound to become the go-to parenting manual in a world where almost all parents want to make sure their children will have stable economic futures.

But is there a point where parenting for achievement becomes abuse?  That’s what I’m pondering today at Politics Daily and Woman Up.

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4 Responses to ““Chinese” Mothering Isn’t for Me”

  1. Jessica Says:

    Thank you for researching and discussing this parenting topic of the moment so thoroughly and looking at it from so many different sides. Great piece!

  2. selfmademom Says:

    Of course, editors and publishers want her book to sell so they’ll hype up the drama and edit out the normal stuff. Maybe that wasn’t the case here, but whatever it is, we need a little less of this extreme parenting and a little less of the “memoirists” telling us how we should raise our children.

  3. Emma Says:

    I’m with you. Chinese Mothering is an extreme that goes way beyond what is healthy. I agree that we, as a society, have become much too lenient and enabling of our children. They need to be accountable and responsible. But certainly don’t need to be miserable.

  4. Brian Says:

    Extremism seems to be all the rage in just about everything these days. I find it very sad.

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