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Essay on Why Chinese Mothers are Superior

“Nothing is fun until you’re good at it.” That statement is the essence of the Chinese way of parenting.Studies show, that Chinese parents spend about 10 times as long as Western parents on academic activities with their children on a daily basis.But the question is, will all that discipline and those high expectations really create content and successful adults or does it in fact create children who will eventually resent their parents?

The article was brought in The Wall Street Journal in 2011 and it is written by Amy Chua’s and from her point of view.

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She is a professor and a mother of two. She believes in the Chinese way of parenting – that discipline and expecting nothing less but perfection from your children, will eventually create happy and successful adults. In the article she argues for the reason why the Chinese upbringing is successful. She is married to a Westerner and therefore she has recognized three big differences in the Chinese and Western parental mind-sets.

Amy believes these three differences to be the reason why Chinese children have a tendency to perform better at school. First of all, she thinks that Western parents are too concerned with their children’s self-esteem. As she says it: “Western parents are concerned about their children’s psyches. Chinese parents aren’t. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.” This statement is somewhat true. Western parents have a tendency to tiptoe around an issue; because they are petrified they might hurt their child’s feelings or damage their child’s self-esteem.

If you expect your children to be fragile, they most likely will become fragile. If you on the other hand expect strength, and that they can handle the truth without getting a damaged self-esteem, they will be strong. But as always there must be moderation in all things. Amy Chua says: “That’s why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child. The Chinese parent believes that their child will be strong enough to take the shaming and to improve from it.”

Punishing your children for a disappointing performance at school by castigating the child is very far from the Western parental mind-set. If you are disappointed in your children, it is better to be honest with them and tell them you know they can do better and what you expect of them in the future. It is unnecessary to lambast your children. It seems, that in Amy Chua’s mind respect and fear is the same thing, which in my mind seems hopelessly out of date.

You should not fear your parents; instead they should be the ones in whom you could always seek comfort and support. Amy Chua has a completely different mind-set on where children are in the social hierarchy, which is the next big difference between Chinese and Western upbringing.

Amy Chua believes that the second big difference between Chinese and Western upbringing is, that Chinese parents believe their kids owe them everything. In this part she uses her husband as an example of what a Westerners view is: “It’s parents who foist life on their kids, so it’s the parents’ responsibility to provide for them. Kids don’t owe their parents anything.”

This is an opinion most Westerners share. It is a culture difference. It is not only the Chinese culture, but also the Muslim, Jewish etc. that have this type of social hierarchy, where it is the older you are, and the higher status you have. Amy Chua may exaggerate when she says Chinese children owe their parents everything, but a lot of Westerners could learn to show more respect towards the elderly people. We could learn something from each other’s way of parenting, even though they are opposite of each other.

In the next part Amy Chua points out the last big difference between the two very different ways of parenting. “Third, Chinese parents believe that they know what is best for their children and therefore override all of their children’s own desires and preferences.” To explain the reasoning behind this statement, Amy tells a story from her own life, when her daughter refused to play a piano piece because it was too hard. But Amy made her do it and in the end she did it and performed it perfectly. To a certain degree, it is okay for parents to make their children do something they do not want to, because it takes practice.

What you have to be careful about is keeping them away from the things they want to do. If they have a desire to something, not allowing them will only enhance that desire, and in the end that might cause some kind of drastic reaction from their part. Once again it is a really big difference between the Chinese and the Western mind-set. Western parents usually encourage their children to pursue their desires and support their decisions, whereas the Chinese parents believe they know what is best for their children.

The fact that Western parents allow their children to do what they want with their lives, makes the Chinese parents think that Chinese parents care more about their children, because they won’t let them turn out badly. On the other hand, Westerners think that Chinese parents are callous people, who do not let their children be children. Amy think’s that is a misunderstanding on both sides, because as she says: “All decent parents want to do what is best for their children. The Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that.” Amy respects both ways of parenting, but it is oblivious throughout the article that Amy Chua believes the Chinese way of parenting is the right way to go.

Amy Chua’s views on parenting might be slightly provoking to a lot of people, but she argues well for the reasoning behind it. In the article it seems that there are no consequences of the Chinese parental mind-set. But there always is. There is a possibility that Amy Chua’s way of parenting might cause her children to resent her at some point, when they realize that not every parent is like that. Also undermining the creative subjects like gym and drama is not the way to go.

A lot of studies show the importance of creativity in a child’s life and exercise is crucial for children as well. It is also important to remember that the social intelligence is just as important as the logical one, and maybe more. When the children are going to job interviews etc. it is very important to be socially qualified, and they won’t learn that by being kept away from sleepovers, play dates and so on. There are definitely consequences of the Chinese way of upbringing that Amy describes, just as well as there is of the Western way.

Even though Amy is an advocate of the Chinese way of parenting, she does not glorify it. She uses humour and exaggeration to engage the reader for example: “If a Chinese child gets a B – which would never happen – there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion.” She amplifies a lot in the examples she uses in order to emphasize just how different Western and Chinese parents are. An article is not engaging if it only consists of statistics and surveys. But like Amy does use those statistics and surveys to back up her own story. By doing that, the story becomes more believable. As readers we are much more interested to hear a personal story that is part of a greater hole.

Amy also engages the reader by making a bold headline: “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”. When we read that we instantly feel a desire to know why and which arguments she has for making such a statement.

The article ends with a summary of the contrast between the Western and Chinese parental mind-set. Both are very positive, but still very different. In that way Amy enlightens how both ways of parenting can be equally as good. The message of the article is that we should learn from each other’s way of parenting, and just because one environment is different, does not mean it is not equally as loving and nurturing as the other.

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