Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Taking the Tiger Mom by the Tail...

I was going to come on here today and write about the tiny one being sick for the last few days. Tales of riding the vomit comet and nappies so vile that I will never look at curry the same way again.

Instead, I am going to write about something else that has sickened me. Something that shakes and disturbs me and makes me worry for the type of society we have become.

A few weeks ago, I was forwarded an article from the Wall Street Journal entitled "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior ." In it, Amy Chua,a mother, Yale Law professor and author of "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," explains why she believes that extreme discipline, shame and subordination are the key ingredients to raising "successful" children.

She has called her daughters "garbage," said they were, "lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic."

All of course, for their own good.

Growing up, they were not allowed to have sleepovers or play dates, to get less then an A in any subject or to play an instrument other then the violin or piano, which of course, with daily three hour practice sessions, they would excel at.

They could not be in a school play, nor could they complain about not being allowed to be in a school play. They were not allowed to watch television or play video games or to be anything less then the best in any class they took part part in.

To the Tiger Mother, failure (or even mere mediocrity) is not an option. Success is the only way.

But what exactly is success in the eye of the Tiger Mother and where exactly is the logic of the Tiger Mother coming from?

China is one of the biggest violators of human rights in the world.

Although technically outlawed in 1996, human rights groups say brutality and degradation are common in Chinese detention centres.

In China, there are 68 crimes which are punishable by death, including among them bigamy, gambling and computer hacking.

Internet forums are strictly monitored - this week for example, the Chinese government has outlawed the broadcasting of recent events in Egypt, where the people are trying to overthrow a repressive government - and the word "Democracy" has been banned on most chinese web browsers. According to wikipedia;

"n 2005 reporter Shi Tao was sentenced to imprisonment for 10 years for releasing an internal Communist Party document to an overseas Chinese democracy site after Yahoo! China provided his personal emails and IP addresses to the Chinese government.[15] Skype president Josh Silverman said it was "common knowledge" that TOM had "established procedures to... block instant messages containing certain words deemed offensive by the Chinese authorities."[16]"

The "one child" policy, limiting each chinese couple to a maximum of one child, is believed to have created a huge rise in the number of gender specific abortions being performed as well as in the cases of female infanticide, claims which are strongly supported by china's lopsided ratio of 118 males being born to every 100 females.

But hey! If those kids are kicking our asses at Maths and sciences and if they have toddlers who can rattle off a Mozart Symphony as easily as the snot queen sings "Twinkle, twinkle..." then it's all worthwhile, isn't it?

In a society where democracy is a forbidden word and where people who question or criticize the government are locked up, killed or simply "disappear," is it any wonder that degradation and extreme discipline are valued tools in the Tiger Mama's toolbox as it is only through shame, subservience and extreme discipline that such regimes can survive.

But surely those tools have no use over here in the so called free world.

Surely we, the enlightened west, the so called "free world," can see all that is wrong with this way of thinking!

Apparently not.

In an ongoing poll by the Wall Street Journal of close to 35,000 readers, when asked which style of parenting (Permissive Western or demanding Eastern) they thought resulted in happier, more successful kids, 62.4% believed the Tiger Mother's regime to be the answer.

I only wonder if those readers have ever wondered exactly what the cost of such success truly is...

In the words of Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D:

Children Learn what they Live

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte


  1. I was angered by the publicity this woman got but hadn't got around to working out what I wanted to say - you've done it brilliantly :)

  2. It was only this morning when I read on one of the Irish paers from saturday, a columnist suggesting we could learn somthing from the tiger mother that I got really upset. I mean, the original article shocked and disgusted me, but to see an Irish opinion piece lauding her merits was too much...

  3. i was going to write some smartass comment about how you were allowed sleepovers but thought better of it... you have hit the nail on the head darlin i am proud of you and you are a perfect you.. love dad

  4. perhaps you should send a link of your reaction to newseditors@wsj.com never know unless you try :) good luck!

  5. I read the article and the one her daughter wrote too. At first, I thought it was just a very ironic piece, some kind of dark humoristic way of trying to denounce those practices. And then, I realized that it wasn't. And I was shocked. Discipline yes, but to that extend, it borders on child cruelty!

  6. Really excellent counter-argument. I think many of us were shocked by her article and you've captured that reaction brilliantly. Hurray!

  7. Your perspective on this issue is refreshing - it doesn't bash (as it easily could) - but rather it offers a broader (world) view of cultural differences (and travesties). I'm totally with you! Our interactions with our children form the foundations of who they are and will become. I've printed that list and posted it on my refrigerator - Tiger Mom should definitely have a framed copy :)