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"Chinese mothers superior" article

Original post made by Midtown Resident on Jan 20, 2011

Most of you have read or heard about Wall Street Journal article by a Yale law professor "Why Chinese mothers are superior" which spurred heated discussion all over the country. An interesting perspective is in the article "Why American mothers are superior" here: Web Link

Comments (147)

Posted by read the book, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm

The WSJ article was a hack job. Read the book if you want to know what she really meant.


Posted by Paul, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 20, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Garden variety dueling anecdotes from stage mothers one-upping one another. It's all meaningless - one cannot judge a population (or method) by its exceptionals.

Why do I get the impression that raising exceptional children is much more about the parents' egos than the kids' welfare?


Posted by former Paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 20, 2011 at 2:19 pm

The ends do not always justify the means. Ms. Chua's race is not "better" than others in terms of mothering or anything in particular. I do not admire braggarts and provocative book titles.
The title of her book along with the Wall Street Journal article are enough for me, thank you, to avoid purchasing this book. If direct quotes from the author are correct concerning her parenting, the reaction from many on various forums is that it was abuse.
The publicity has been masterful, though. $$$


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 20, 2011 at 2:23 pm

As Asian/Indian ethnic kids continue to win science fairs, get near-perfect SAT scores, graduate from the best American universities(near the top of their class)...then become the new dominant economic class...then hire the kids of the previous dominant class, at relatively low wages (compared to their parents), there will slowly dawn upon the previous class of elites that they raised spoiled kids.

The ethnic Chinese-American woman who wrote this book, and especially the extract that came from it in the WSJ, deserves some respect. I have long been in favor of the Asian apporach to educating our children. Allowing them to choose the flavor of the day is absurd...and it is very bad parenting. In the end, it will come down to economics, pure and simple: Do you want your kids to get crumbs, and feel depressed, or do you want them to stand up, proud and confident (and relatively rich)?

Hard work and discipline, at early ages is the best way to raise kids. The current permissive approach is a disaster.


Posted by read the book, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 20, 2011 at 2:55 pm

The book is NOT called "Why Chinese mothers are superior". The Wall Street Journal made up that title for their article. Anyone who continues to use that title clearly did not try to read the book. The article is so much different from the book that the article is not meaningful.


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 20, 2011 at 3:06 pm

"Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother"

That is the title of the book. I like that title even better than the extracted WSJ article: "Why Chinese mothers are superior"...even though they are.

It is, indeed a battle. The question is, what cultural construct will win. I already know, and it isn't the permissive American model.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm

On a more superficial level, our children seem so ill mannered. And loud. For example, I can't forget the 10 or so year old boy who stood up in front during intermission in a small local theater and addressed the audience about something or other. His parents didn't even try to stop him or whisper to him to sit down.
Or the kids running around and shouting, and picking things off the shelves for their mother to buy. She never even told them to lower their voices. Sometimes the kids get into physical tussles. So unpleasant. Maybe they aren't taught the difference between public places and their own room, that you behave differently in public.


Posted by parent, a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Depends on what you call successful. Isn't China struggling with a population that has no creativity? Aren't our top universities also concerned that they are producing graduates that can get the grades but can't think creatively? Seen several articles recently talking about how educational institutions are having to cut health services but are seeing a significant rise in the number of students needing mental health services.


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 20, 2011 at 4:28 pm

"Isn't China struggling with a population that has no creativity? Aren't our top universities also concerned that they are producing graduates that can get the grades but can't think creatively?"

No. That is racist crap. It might make elite class Americans feel better, but it has no basis in reality. China and Asian/Indian Americans are very creative, and they work hard and focus from an early age. The next Steve Jobs will have an Asian or Indian name...count on it.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2011 at 5:21 pm

It isn't really a case of either/or. There is a medium which I think many of us are trying to strive towards.

Of course parenting is a struggle trying to keep the kids motivated, focused and paying attention to their school work as well as well rounded in areas outside school.

We arrange playdates, educational trips on days off, sign them up for sports teams which provide all the equipment and uniforms, drive them where they need to go and remind them where and when they have to be there. We don't let them fail by being late with homework or late for soccer practice. We buy them cell phones so they can keep in touch with us and all the latest laptops so that they can do their homework. It is no longer cool (or maybe no time) for them to have after school jobs, but we manage to get them to do umpteen community service hours which look good for college apps.

It is good for kids to have down time, to get to where they are going under their own steam and to bag groceries after school. It is good for them to save their allowance or earnings to buy the latest gadget. It is good for them to ride their bikes, catch a bus or train, or walk to see a movie.

We must let our kids be kids, but it is a battle. On the one hand we have all the competition in school and on the other hand we can't be seen to be poor parents. We do need to teach our kids manners, we need to teach them responsibilty and to think for themselves.

If nothing else, these articles may have made us ask some questions. Perhaps we should listen to what the kids think. We don't want to turn our kids into the sausage factory kids from "The Wall".


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 20, 2011 at 5:32 pm

"We don't let them fail"

That is a major mistake. Young kids should feel the sting of failure, and parental disapproval. They won't want to fell that feeling again, as long as the parents stay strong.

Kids are very maleable, and they are acutely aware of parental signals. Strong parents and strong love can work wonders. However, strong love with weak parents will fail.


Posted by Commander McBragg, a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2011 at 7:35 pm

A Chinese guy I once worked with (by Chinese I mean born and raised in China) told me that Chinese culture is ruled by two things; status and luck. An "A" is higher status than a "B", an ivy-league school is higher status than a state university, etc. The way I understood it, it seemed that the Chinese people were concerned about appearances with other Chinese people, not necessarily Americans. I was somewhat surprised that this person gave us an inside look at Chinese culture without even mentioning the word "status".

"...the understanding is that Chinese children must spend their lives repaying their parents by obeying them and making them proud. " (From the Wall Street Journal article). Pride: "A high sense of one's personal status".


Posted by A mom who disagrees with Chua, a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Here is an opinion from someone who was raised with methods similar to those used by Chua:

Web Link

The cnn opinion is titled: "'Tiger Mothers' leave lifelong scars"

An interesting paragraph:

"Now in my mid-thirties, I'm sure I appear successful and happy on the surface. I'm a published author, a successful executive, and I have a Ph.D. in psychology.

In spite of this, my parents' approach failed. I'm torn to pieces on the inside.

I've been through countless hours of psychotherapy, and my lack of self-worth beckons me to rely on alcohol to numb the pain. "

"Children need their parents' love and acceptance in order to develop real self-esteem. Belittling children sends the message that they are not worthy of love and support -- as do mind games, emotional abuse, and tight-fisted control. "


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 21, 2011 at 11:31 am

"I've been through countless hours of psychotherapy"

There are a ton of American permissively-raised kids, many with trust funds, who make a habbit of trying to understand why they don't feel good about themselves. Palo Alto is full of psychologists and psychiatrists who make a good living 'treating' these spoiled kids...now adults.

Most of the Asian/Indian American kids I know seem very well adjusted. Either way, it is they who will control our economy, at most professional levels, within a few short years. I am looking forward to a new, disciplined model of child rearing. We will then get serious politicians, who will push back at the ridiculous schemes of our current politicians. For example, they will tell the public unions to go take a hike, if they threaten to strike, or demand absurd contracts. I forget the woman's name, but this Asian American took on the stench of the WAshington, DC school system...and she refused to back down (until it was clear that her 'boss' was kicked out...there was a recent movie made about it.).

It is a new day...beter get used to it, if you want your kids to prosper.


Posted by JacoP, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2011 at 12:09 pm

You can't teach social skills


Posted by pachinesemom, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm

this is more about culture things.for thousands of years,we can not call our parents name,especially in a higher class status,people can their parents father superior, mother superior,can not mention their name,even one hundred years ago,people were doing this. it is called filial piety.


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm

"You can't teach social skills"

I fully agree! American permissives are truly atrocious at social skills. Asian/Indian cultures show more respect and tend not to speak, until they have something to say that makes a difference. To put it in an old-fashioned American context, "if you can't imporove on silence, don't try".

I find Chinese, in this country, to have a great sense of humor, and an incisive critical analysis in social situations. They keep their powder dry, until just the right moment. Can't say that so often about American kids (as adults...they just seem to assume that everyone wants to hear them talk like valley girls).


Posted by paindianmom, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I was raised similarly like outlined by Chua's article (minus the name-calling, spanking and we-are-ashamed-of-you attitude). The bars were always high and explanations were essential as to why I did not score the perfect A+. The perfect A+ was a possibility due to the academic method of Asian cultures .. it relies on practice and practice and more practice. "Out of the box" thinking wasn't encouraged in those days - you studied from a text book and were tested on the contents of the text book. So as long as you perfected the text book chances of you getting A+ was quite high.

I went to grad school in the USA and the first thing that I realized was that I could challenge the instructor and freely say "I think you are wrong" !

There are good points to take away from Chua's article .. kids need a higher expectation to be set. Many many kids are capable of it and since they do not get pushed one level higher, they do not quite learn to perform higher. If your child has been diagnosed with a learning disability .. then all bets should be off ..

As parents accepting the grade/performance that the child brings home and "Asking politely" to do well next time .. aren't we dropping the bar immediately. Yes, we all love our children, we all want them to do well .. but think about the time they will get into the workforce .. as parents its our responsibility to equip them when the time is right.

I want a DS "Now" <tantrum> ! I have seen someone go to Best Buy at 8:30pm since they said they had promised the child a DS (for something) and they "didn't deliver" .. so they, as parents apologized over and over again. My opinion was - assure the child s/he is going to get the DS the next day (or the next day ) and leave it at that. The child needs to understand and get over the instant gratification model that is being pushed ...


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Aaron,

Part of Chua's problem is that she *didn't* allow her kids to fail. Her description makes her sound like a shrill helicopter mother. If mommy makes sure you have no decision-making power, you're not free to fail by a longshot.

The youngest basically rebelled that Chua finally, kinda, dropped some of it. Though as Janet Maslin pointed out in the NYT, Chua comes off as narcissistic.

As for the Asian test score thing--I'm old enough to remember handwringing over American test scores from decades ago. Despite this, the U.S. kept leading the technology revolution. Hmmm, let's look at some of those stars--Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg--all very bright, ambitious guys and not a bachelor's among them.

In other words, schools and academic credentials aren't everything. Chua couldn't hack the demands of a real law career and escaped into the safety of academia (yeah, I read more than the WSJ article.) She got her job at Yale *not* because she's a great legal scholar, but because she wrote the right article at the right time and basically fit a niche. She admits as much, but seems only partially aware of the irony. (The ironies go deeper than that, but I won't go into it.)

Asian-American kids do do well on math tests and science fairs. They get into top schools and, then . . . a lot of them flame out. A lot of them lack social skills (the guys, in particular, seem bitter about it), which means they get stuck in mid-level careers. They don't love what they do, which is key to long-term success and they've been trained NOT to take chances.

The result is a lot of East Asian worker bees in Silicon Valley, but a lack of big names. Amid the Sergei Brins, Larry Pages, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerbergs, Jeff Bezos (okay, he's to the north), Larry Ellisons, Andy Grovesor, historically, Hewlett and Packard--you find one name--Jerry Yang.

China seems to be more focused on industrial espionage than innovation. And the Chinese, themselves, are wondering why they can't pull off one of the scientific Nobel prizes.

So, to me, not only does Chua's approach have disturbing aspects psychologically, I'm also not convinced it works long-term. I think it's telling that some of the strongest condemnations of what she's doing come from other Chinese-Americans. Do a search of Amy Chua and Quora and you'll see what I mean.


Posted by western_parent, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm

"math whizzes" – give me a break :-)
I have never heard of a single ONE Chinese math achievement…
They just abuse poor American educational system and they REALLY believe that they are whizzes…


Posted by Mom who disagrees with Chua, a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm

"it is they who will control our economy,"

What? Let's see: many asians work for Google, Apple, Microsoft, and hmmm, all those companies were founded by americans! Facebook's founder is as hippy as they come, yes he is very smart but also non-traditional. I bet you that a Chinese parent would have been horrified if their child dropped out of college to pursue launching their own company.

How are they controling the economy? By working for the hippy, non-traditional guys they criticize so much?


Posted by anon, a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm

For a good counterpoint to the article, check this one out:

Web Link


Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Palo Alto itself has no shortage of Tiger Moms.

If you think your child has a decent shot to be Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, Tiger Mom parenting will ruin him/her. But that's 1 in a million chance.

If you don't want to take that chance, and aim your child for a decent upper-middle class worker bee, like those engineers in Facebook, professors in law schools, or doctors in PAMF, then some degree of Tiger Mom parenting will definitely help a lot.

For the nation, I'd prefer to have many more Tiger Moms than Mr. Rogers.


Posted by Old Palo Alto, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm

I would suggest Tiger Mom read Warren Buffett's views on how he was raised and how he raised his own children. If status is so important surely Warren meets her criteria, I'm not sure she meets his!


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 21, 2011 at 5:42 pm

For those who doubt Asian creativity and risk taking, etc., I think you are thinking in the past. I once worked for a scientific firm in the Silicon Valley. We had a major domo Harvard professor on our staff, and he travelled to China many times. Every time he came back he told us that the Chinese are extremely capable and creative. We tended to ignore him, because we were the dominant culture/economy. I think our attitude, bascially, was "so what, they will not catch us during our lifetimes". We were wrong. He was right.

I, personally, learned over time that the Asian approach was superior to what we have here. I was raised in very poor circumstances, and had to determine my own fate, not a bad thing, but not a good model for the general population. I did well, and still would (I think), and I raised my own kids like the Asians do (pretty much). They have done well. Yet, I see so many kids of the elites in Palo Alto, and beyond, that are relying on being trust fund babies. These kids are NOT going to become the economic leaders of the future.

Naming the the creative leaders of the past two decades says nothing about the creative economic leaders of the next two decades.

Tiger mothers are not perfect, but they are much better than the alternative mothers. Fathers are also very important, and they are often ignored in discussions of this type. A married couple, with strong convictions and a tough-loving concern for their kids, will produce the winners of the future. Divorced parents and single mothers will produce kids who are facing a very tough road, in general. Tiger mothers tend to be married women, with a man behind them who supports them.

The essential argument is over. The American permissive apporach is a dead fish.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Innovation at present is coming from Europe and the US. The leading innovaters appear to be European and American educated (although I am unable to find out too much about this). All the latest gizmos appear to come from US and European companies.

This was not always the case. The Sony Walkman was a leader, so were Toyotas, Datsuns and other Japanese cars and motorcycles.

The Beijing Olympics' Opening Ceremony was pretty amazing. India had all sorts of problems putting on the Commonwealth Games this past fall.

Asia has been innovative, but has big problems with follow through. Sony was unable to keep ahead and I imagine China and India are not going to be leaders in high tech - their brightest stars come here, Australia or Europe. The high tech innovaters appear to need more than just a stellar education. They appear to have something that makes them think outside the box and use application and creativity rather than education and stimulus to get them started.

It will be interesting to see who the next Zuckerberg will be? I have a feeling it won't be someone with a degree from an Ivy League, but possibly another geek who is more interested in his invention than his education - or hers as the case may be.


Posted by Midtown Resident, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I want to build upon James's comment above - innovators are a rare kind and even if you are creative and innovative genius you have to have plenty of luck to apply your creativity at the right time and right place. But if you are not shooting for the stars and raising an average child, then I can certainly see the value in the "Asian style" parenting and continuous raising of the bar.


Posted by pamom, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 21, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Tiger Mom is using extreme measures which are abusive. Not letting your child use the toilet? Withholding something to eat and/or drink? Forcing your child to play over and over again for hours on end?

Her father felt shame when she was number two in a contest? How many students can be number one? Usually, just one or maybe a few will share the number "one" spot. So, if we all become Tiger Moms, then what?

I do agree that Tiger Mom is right in saying that the Western over-protective and self-esteem movement can cheat your children by not preparing them for the real world. I think this really needs to change -- but not to Tiger Mom extreme.


Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm

This whole conversation will become moot in 20+ years as assimilation turns the 2nd and 3rd generation Asians into the same whiny, self absorbed, worthless people that American Culture generates by the millions now.

Aaron, you've got the right take on the situation, but I don't see it as sustainable. The success of Asians here, and it's manifestation in the success of silicon valley is the last gasp of American Exceptionalism, and ironically, it's not even Americans who are responsible.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 21, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Aaron,

What I love about this is that you clearly haven't read the book--you're pushing a dogged approach and you don't even do your homework.

Among other things, I'd characterize the dad as a passive wimp. Both Chua and her hubby are very much members of the *liberal* academic
elite (It's one of the many deep ironies about the story.)

You and James fail to show an understanding of American history and the overall economy. Most jobs are generated by small businesses. You don't have to be a visionary, but you do need certain amount of guts and independence to start your own business. You don't get that if you're raised by a mommy who won't let you breathe on your own.

Americans show a certain resilience and we work more hours and take fewer vacations and holidays than most nations. We've developed the best university system(s) in the world. We (and our economy) have shown a certain adaptability (thus, Silicon Valley--remember when we were losing the chip wars? Oh, that's right, we switched gears and SV is still a center of innovation.)

You'd have to be a real idiot not to think that maybe, just maybe, there are things we do right in how we raise our kids.

Should I even touch on China's repressive political history? You really think that lack of freedom and authoritarian child rearing are unrelated?

I mean, given the much larger population, China has been underperforming for centuries. As it is, their economic growth is still very dependent on our buying crap at Wal-mart.


Posted by Why?, a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2011 at 8:11 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by TP, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 21, 2011 at 8:14 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Reality Check, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2011 at 8:34 pm

OhlonePar:
"You'd have to be a real idiot not to think that maybe, just maybe, there are things we do right in how we raise our kids."

You're living in the past, OP. We USED to raise kids close to the Asian way, but, thanks to the Baby Boomers, that's gone out the window to the point now that EVERY child is somehow "exceptional," you can't give out "F"s and everyone DESERVES an "A" and an award just for participation. And so now who is the best "innovator" out there: Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook??? Give me a break, bud - he can't even carry Bill Gates jock-strap!


Posted by Reality Check, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2011 at 8:37 pm

TP:

That's for posting Limbaugh there to prove how far down we've gone as a country - Rush Limbaugh, U.S. intellectual (along with Sarah - the dumber/stupider I show myself to be, the more the general public can realte to me - Palin).


Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2011 at 8:50 pm

OhlonePar,

Until the industrial revolution, China had been the economical superpower for at least twelve hundred years.

As Reality Check said, Americans used to raise kids in a much stricter fashion. But now many parents are living in "make believe" worlds of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, where the kids are constantly told "You are great just the way you are!".

50% of Berkeley students are Asians. Sure you may say they are mediocre. But on average they are likely to have a more comfortable life than the majority of their contemporaries.

In the Roman days there were those military heros. They fight bloody wars and survived. People admired them. They were the true leaders. But there were also those who lived "cozy" civilian lives. Nobody know their names now. But I'm sure there were a lot more of them than the Caesars.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm


I didn't read the book, so I haven't done my homework (I guess I am burnt out after working too hard in high school to get into college).

There are good moms and bad moms in all cultures. What works for some kids may not work for others. We can all just do our best.




Posted by Third Generation, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm

I am Third Generation Chinese, so my grandparents came from China. The parenting described in the book only relates to immigrant parents. Their children, second generation Asians, born in America, don't usually parent so strictly. Sure, academics are still important but it's not psycho-parenting as this author writes about. Most of them resent their parents' method of parenting. Let me also remind everyone to NOT stereotype. Not all immigrant Asians parent as in the book. At least not in Palo Alto (yes, Cupertino, perhaps). I have met many Asian immigrant parents in Palo Alto who have more westernized thinking about parenting.


Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2011 at 10:50 pm

OhlonePar,

And don't be fooled by the "small business" myth. It's a republican political decoy. A law firm is a small business. A doctor is a small business. Joe the Plumber is a small business. My gardener is a small business. But it is not what makes America a great country.

It is the "big business", the Microsoft, Google, Boeing, GE, etc. that make this country the greatest. They need high quality "worker bees".

I'll tell you the real reason behind the Boeing 787 fiasco is the depletion of engineering talent. The great engineers are retiring. But there is not enough quality new blood. Boeing does not lack so-called "leaders". They lack well educated and dedicated technical talent.

The same reason is why GE is forced to set up JV in China for jet engines. They look at the stream of engineering graduates. It just does not add up.

"In the 2004 Intel Science Talent Search, more children (18) have parents who entered the country on H-1B (professional) visas than parents born in the United States (16)."

Go figure.



Posted by derp, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 22, 2011 at 12:45 am

Look at all the adults fighting as if they know everything

I'm a kid
I'm going to live
I'm going to enjoy myself
I may or may not go to ivy leagues
I may or may not get a 5.0 GPA
I may or may not get the nobel piece price for junior excellence
I may or may not discover the cure for cancer

but I'm going to be happy and nothing you fools can say can do anything about it

and my mother is asian and she treats me a little like the book

and that takes away my happiness


Posted by hey parents, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 22, 2011 at 1:04 am

I laugh at the people in here who are arguing that america doesn't have as many great minds as it used to

open your eyes

our school system has gone down the stream
we spend billions on military, 10x as the second greatest military in the world
we're the only nation who thinks carrying guns around as a civilian is legal even when our senators are shot brain dead

YOU guys are the ones ruining everything. Stop screwing up.

Bad parenting isn't why we have less smart people. It's terrible schools.

gunn is an exceptional school. but I attended another bay area high school and let me tell you, it was a complete dump

get your heads out of the ground and stop voting for violence and war and spending 700 billion on weaponry instead of education, then start complaining to me why we have less engineers graduating each year


Posted by asian son, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2011 at 1:16 am

My mom is asian and she was disgusted by the article.
There are a few hints of truth behind 'asian' differences in parenting in Chua's long ranting piece of garbage, but her version is so extreme that it's become more like a nightmare than reality.
As a kid my mom made me try lots of different activities to find what I was good in. She told me to practice hard so I could become better. But she didn't push me past my limit to 'break me' into excellence.
She encouraged me to do well by telling me I was good, and then putting me in harder and better classes outside and inside of school. I excelled because not what she said, but what she did.
I think asian parents do that. They tend to be more proactive in their child's lives, by 'forcing' them to take more classes and activities.
That does NOT mean though, that they expect their child to be number one at everything, or even excellent at everything. They just want their child to be as successful as they can because isn't that what all parents want?
I don't know what Ms. Chua was doing as she was raising her child, but telling them that they can't go to the bathroom until they master an extremely difficult piano piece is sickening and pretty much un-human.

It's not Asian to be abusive to your children. It's mental.


Posted by chinesemom, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2011 at 8:41 am

It depends on the individual,i think the majority chines moms are just like american moms only they want their kids doing more and pushing them more but without this kind of abusive maner.But it is a different story in china,if your kids are lagging or being unproductive in achievements, then the school teacher will call your parents and force them to get involved and pushing their kids instead.that is why right now a lot of very rich families in Shanghai, Beijing sending their kids to usa to attend us colleges.


Posted by SH, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 22, 2011 at 10:27 am

Job of Mom?

Push..push..push.. till the engines roar and zoooom...
wait and watch with pride!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2011 at 11:29 am

One other point, I have seen just as much pushing from caucasian theater/singing Moms, junior beauty pageant Moms, sports Moms (and Dads) with extra classes, coaching, hair/makeup/nails sessions.

Asian parents may value and push for academic excellence. Others push just as much for whatever they perceive to be of value.


Posted by Weary, a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Yes, that's definitely true, and there's just as much cultural backing for that as for what Tiger Mom does. Many people from all cultures push their kids too much these days--and many don't push them enough. There should be a happy medium.

As an aside, some years ago I worked at a counseling center that was frequented by many high-achieving Asian students. Quite a few of them were so burned out by their parents and what they'd had to endure in high school that when they got to college, they just crashed and burned. Way too much pressure, way too much stress--a big "race to nowhere."


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm

"You'd have to be a real idiot not to think that maybe, just maybe, there are things we do right in how we raise our kids."

OP,

Sure there are some good things (e.g. openly expressed love (hugs), and celebrating achievement when it occurs). The problem is that the old way (permissiveness)is no longer viable as a way to get a good job in the global economy. Take a look around Palo Alto, OP, and you will see a lot of recent college graduates who are stacking up at home, living with their parents. These kids were taught that they were wonderful, and doing wondefully in school subjects. Their economic prospects are very low, going into the future. I wouldn't exactly call it a tsunami, but it is construct shift: American white kids, who used to be part of the elite class (even if not elite themselves), will now become the service class. Nothing wrong with being a servant, but I don't think that is what their parents had in mind for them. Except for a few lone wolves, like me (back in the day), very few American whites want to work hard enough to get math or engineering/physics degrees; they are even getting lazy about getting softer degrees, like law degrees and medical degrees. Such professions are increasingly being filled by Asian/Indian American kids, who were pushed by their parents to do their homework. As some have said, above, that used to be the way that many American parents raised their own kids several decades ago...but no longer. The self esteem movement has crushed the real hopes of a couple generations, and it is still going....

We should be celebrating Asian/Indian parents, not criticizing them. The citicism should be targetted (with crosshairs!)at liberal white parents who have wrecked thir own kids chances...along with so many kids who were forced to be taught in public schools using the 'cooperative' circle method (as opposed to an individaul accountability method), always with a focus on self esteem.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 22, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Christ I HATE the way this system doesn't work. It just ate up a well-researhed answer.

Anyway, shorter may be better anyhow.

First, Reality Check et al. We've NEVER raised our kids the "Asian" (according to Chua) way. Americans have never focused that exclusively on grades, drill and kill and piano lessons. Why? Because in an agrarian country with, for many years, a relatively sparse population, our kids *worked* to help the family. You may think that this is ancient history, but my mother, as a child, milked a cow by hand twice a day before walking miles to school. Chua's obsessive approach is a luxury. Americans develop their work ethic through old-fashioned means--i.e. work. And Americans *still* have an excellent work ethic. Bitching about the feebleness of the younger generation is a sign of age. I remember back when *my* generation wasn't measuring up. Only, in fact, it did.

James,

You don't know your small business facts. According to the SBA, small businesses generated 64 percent of all net new jobs in the past 15 years and accounts for 40 percent of *high-tech jobs*. Also generates more than half of the non-ag GDP. So, yes, we need people who have the guts and indepedence to start businesses. You don't get that without learning how to make decisions and take chances.

The big corporations aren't America's glory--enterprise is. Big corporations are increasingly global and, lately, big "American" corporations have been generating more jobs overseas than here.

Aaron, first time I've heard medicine is a "soft" degree--I have a young programmer acquaintance at Google with a bachelor's. Don't know any doctors practicing after four years of college.

Americans have never relied on degrees and test scores for success. I suspect we won't now. Though I'm with some of the other posters in that I find it irritating when "American" seems to mean exclusively white Americans and excludes Americans of Asian descent. Whether your ancestors crossed the Pacific or the Atlantic doesn't make them more or less American.

Again, I think one of the interesting things about the Chua debate is how angry her book has made many Asian-Americans. I've heard and read complaints about the stereotyping as well as some heartbreaking comments on the emotional cost of extreme parenting.

I don't, by the way, actually see Chua's approach as that "Asian". In many ways, she's a stage mother like Gypsy Rose Lee's--living through her kid's accomplishments. While she claims that the WSJ was out of context and she relents later on, I actually found some later stuff even more horrifying--such as when she threatens to cancel her younger daughter's bat mitzvah unless the daughter performs a certain song at it.

Not surprisingly, this daughter who seems to be genuinely talented and has an innate love of music ends up hating the violin. It's an incredible waste and could have been prevented by a healthier attitude on Chua's part.

What Chua describes goes way beyond high expectations. It's a weird book--a perkily written memoir of how she emotionally abused her kids while her husband make the occasional feeble protest.


Posted by Mom of young Palo Alto adult, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Hello everybody,

As someone who has a young adult (24 years old) who is white and grew up in Palo Alto, going to Palo Alto schools throughout, I want to take sides with Ohlone Par and also voice my discontent with the bashing that is going on here. Please stop branding our young adults as lazy, self-indulgent individuals. This is mean and wrong. Sure there are some of those, but there are many hard-working intelligent young white adults who are doing well and who were NOT raised the "Asian" Tiger Mom way.

Case in point my young adult and her friends. My young white adult did not do the hours of music drill. She played the flute for a number of years but dropped it after her first year of high school. My young adult was not pushed to do this or that, she chose her activities all by herself. As a matter of fact she chose to work part time while in high school. So did many of her friends actually. She did not sweat her grades so much that she had a 4.5 GPA. She allowed herself to have some Bs. Yet she also chose to take several AP classes, while working part time, and she passed her several AP exams.

She was not admitted to an IV league university, nor to UC Berkeley or UCLA... she did not have the GPA for it, even though she had the SATs. No big deal. She went to a well regarded other UC campus. And guess what: she worked part time throughout.

Well, she now has a good job were she performs beautifully, actually BETTER than her colleagues from more prestigious colleges, and BETTER than the cubs of the Tiger Moms that are also among her colleagues. She IS a hard worker (she puts in 12 hour days 6 or 7 days a week at times). She gets along beautifully with her clients and her colleagues. (and no, she does not have a "hard" science or medical degree).

And it's not just our daughter who does well. Her friends are too. One of them put herself through college while working and entirely financing her own education. Sure it's taken her longer but she too will have a UC degree and she too will do well.

These kids did not do it the Tiger Mom way, or any other "high pressure from the outside way". They did it their own way, following their instincts and with a lot of support from their parents who encouraged them to do well, but did not force them, and did not make decisions for them, and did not emotionally abuse them as Chua does her daughters.

So pleaaaaaase, stop the bashing of young white adults,including from Palo Alto, and stop saying that there is only one way to create successful people. It is not true.

One more thing: the unemployment rate of people in their 20s with a college degree is 25% nationally currently. So, it's not a character flaw that can explain that. The jobs are just not there.

And one last thing: I was raised by a Tiger Mom. And she was as white as they come. I hated it, it hurt me more than it helped me. I vowed not to do it to my kids, and I am very happy I chose the path I chose in my parenting.


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm

OP,

The American liberals, who have led us down this path of permissiveness are, overwhelmingly, white. They are not Asians, by and large.

The former American elite were, overwhelmingly, white (and smug about their entitlement to stay that way). Along came Honda, Toyota, Hitachi (which took over a major branch of IBM in San Jose), along with many other Asian companies. India bought big into the Y2K programming scare, and it has paid big divdends for India (translation: Many fewer American jobs). S. Korea is one of the world's biggest and best industrial producers of heavy industry (too bad, US Steel and GM!). China went after the low end labor market, mass producing products much cheaper than any American competitor. China is now moving upscale across the board...they are not dumb, and they ARE creative. Yes, China steals our intellectual property, but they are in the driver's seat on that one...very creative strategic thinking on their part.

The bottom line, in terms of this discussion, is that the permissive model of child rearing has resulted, and will continue to result in producing kids who have no real chance to be part of the elite producing economic class...those jobs will go to the kids who had Tiger moms/dads (of any race). A simple yardstick is to watch who wins local science fairs.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 22, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Aaron's posts are disturbing & very narrow in focus. .


Posted by A half tiger mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 22, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Lets put things in perspective- read the following Times article.
It does a great job in analyzing all our mixed feelings.
Web Link




Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2011 at 6:42 pm

I'm certainly not bashing any race or party. I'm sorry if this is the impression someone has about my comments.

IMO, it's not a left or right issue. If you regard permissiveness the problem of the left. The right has its own strategy to dumb down the people with their talk shows. Unfortunately it seems that the stupidification of our nation is the common denominator of the left and the right.

In fact I don't even believe Amy Chua really did the extreme parenting that was claimed. In today's polarized environment with saturated information, you have to stand at an extreme post to get your message across (and sell books), and perhaps nudge the society towards where you want it to be. If it were a book on "moderate parenting", we would not be talking about it.

Palo Alto is not "normal" in terms of its education system. How many are there PAUSD-like districts in the nation? One need to think about the rest of them, which is the other 95%, to recognize the seriousness of our education problem.



Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 22, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Aaron,

Liberals created the GI Bill which in turn led to Americans being able to attend college in large numbers for the first time in history. Liberal bashing is totally off the mark here--I could make a case about the damage done by white conservatives in this particular area, but I think that's also besides the point of this discussion. Both sides are historically white, reflecting our historic demographics and the country's power structure.

But your notion that somehow the changes in the global economy is the result of permissive parenting is just ditzy. Permissive education has nothing to do with China keeping its currency artificially low or its violation of WTO policies. Permissive parenting has nothing to do with our failure, for example, to regulate financial instruments.

James.

It's funny, my SO also wants to think Chua couldn't have done what she said she did. But her older daughter's defense of her does show that while there have been fun times, Chua used extreme parenting techniques. Also what she describes jibes with the experience of some close friends with Asian immigrant parents.

But don't take my word for it, I mentioned Quora before. Here's the link:

Web Link

Read the first two responses for an inside response. The behavior Chua describes in her book doesn't sound unique to her.


Posted by Midtown Resident, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2011 at 9:23 pm

If you listen carefully to Chua's interview, she mentions "one episode" with her daughter after which she decided to pull back and reconsider her parenting approach. I wonder what episode it was. Could it be a suicide attempt by her daugher or a serious nervous breakdown....


Posted by Open Minded Mom, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 22, 2011 at 11:24 pm


Take it with a grain of salt.   As a parent, I am always interested to hear from other parents when they share their experiences, success stories, and struggles.  It widens my parenting horizons and provides different viewpoints on which to ponder and reflect.  I am very thankful that Ms. Chua has shared her personal parenting experience and look forward to reading her book.  I have always been impressed with the work ethic of many Asian students and wondered what was really behind their relentless determination.  Long ago in high school, I marvelled at the advanced musical abilities of a group of Korean exchange students.  We all asked them how they reached such high levels of playing. "Lots of practice" was their modest reply. This gave us only a glimpse into their background.  I think we American teens all knew that there was a deep cultural divide and that their daily routine would be out of place in our family life and culture.  However we all walked away with a lasting respect for these students and an appreciation for their hard work and effort. In them, we saw and heard what effort (well talent too) could produce. I thought of those students many times during challenging moments in my higher education years.  They inspired me to push harder, and give it my all.  Now with my own children, I want them to respect hard work and learn to put forth an effort so they can be focused learners, and not back down when faced with challenges.   I don't plan to adopt Ms. Chua's approach but hope to learn something about another family and another culture that could inspire me and my family to achieve our highest goals. 

Midtown Resident: This incident is mentioned in some articles. I believe it refers to the youngest daughter throwing a dish across a Moscow cafe. It seems she was not keen on trying cavier.


Posted by Midtown Resident, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 23, 2011 at 9:58 am

Open Minded Mom - great perspective! People are so eager to judge these days.


Posted by Aaron has no idea, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 23, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I can agree that Japan and South Korea have made great strides.

But citing CHINA as an argument? The one that pays workers below living wage and forces them to live in the factories and beats them to death if they don't commit suicide first? The one that destroys its worker's self esteem and will to live, and probably has the highest average of people losing their fingers in a country per day statistic?

Yeah. America could be that too : look at us 100 years ago. According to your logic we should all move back into Tenements and bow down to our overlord city bosses as they dictate our lives and government.


Posted by To Open Minded Mom, a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Chua is counting on people like you to sell her book and make a lot of money - just like Palin counts on her followers to make a lot of money listening to her nonsense.

Here is a review/opinion from the New York Times:

Web Link

It says, among other things, the following about Chuas book:

"In truth, Ms. Chua's memoir is about one little narcissist's book-length search for happiness."


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 23, 2011 at 7:21 pm

"But citing CHINA as an argument? "

Yes, China is again a major world power. China has a very long history, and it is back near the top in this current cycle. The USA should not dismiss China, it it a very resilient culture, and it has a LOT more patience than the Americans. China's greatest strength is its Confucian hisotry, which demands filial piety and a focus on the greater good, practiced through individual discipline. This culture has now arrived in America, big time, and it will reconstruct how we go about our daily lives.

In my view, this is a very good thing. Tiger moms are finally winning the day!


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Midtown Resident,

Yeah, Chua's 13-year-old has a temper tantrum in public because Chua tries to force her to try caviar. As a parent, consider me unimpressed. Chua's a law professor and somehow missed picking up any tips on persuasion and negotiation. She comes off as quite childish.

Aaron,

You sound silly here. What big-time arrival? Some of us grew up with kids (quite a while ago) with parents from China. And the whole approach dies out a couple of generations in because, guess what, the grandchildren of immigrants (from anywhere) tend to be very American. Maybe because, gee, they are. As, in fact, Chua acknowledges by the end and as her half-Jewish daughters tell her.

China has a quarter of the world's population and is willing to exploit it. Cheap labor, not Confucianism, is the key here. Also at work is a willingness to cause huge amounts of environmental damage and to artificially suppress their currency. They're also still hugely dependent on us being willing to buy and buy and buy--10 percent of ALL of China's exports go to WalMart. The Chinese are just banking on their own citizens getting rich enough and consumerist enough to buy the amount of junk that we do.

You just sound naive here and with a kind of a weird orientalism thing. There's no magic here--the Chinese are just people like the rest of us, but with a really sucky record on human rights.


Posted by chiesemom, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 23, 2011 at 7:55 pm

please do not confuse chinese people and culture with chinese government,actually chinese people are very kind to american,they always think usa is strong, democratic and lots of freedom,it is its oppressive government that make us sick.


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 23, 2011 at 8:05 pm

"You just sound naive here and with a kind of a weird orientalism thing"

OP,

You are in denial. Big time. China thinks long term. Chinese immigrants to America do not become "Americanized", as you suggest, over only a couple of generations. Good for them. There are many Chinese immigrants, highly talented, who are moving into America to keep up the good work. We should be celebrating this, and learning from it.

Simple question for you, OP: How many winners of major science fairs have come from Ohlone over the past 10 years? Such science fair winners will become our econonomic winners/leaders of the future.

You seem to be living in a distant dream, OP.


Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Off the topic.

Yes the companies in China are often brutal in exploiting employees. But at the same time, somewhat paradoxically, in just one generation, hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty. It has never been done before in human history, especially for a nation that is not resource-based (e.g. Saudi Arabia). You could say this is Tiger Mom Grandoise.

India has been a democracy for a long time. But in comparison its collective permissiveness failed, at least economically, in moving a comparable large number of population upwards.


Posted by chinesemom, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 23, 2011 at 9:10 pm

china will never run out of talented young people.think of its huge population, and its highly achieved people come to usa, have since settled down here in silicon valley or new york, imagine, the next generation will be smart kids too, coz their parents are ellites from china. Now we are competiting with a base full of smart kids.i am worried how the next next generation would survive if all we could tell them is you are good as the way you are.


Posted by chinesemom, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 23, 2011 at 9:30 pm

personally i know a lot of chinese moms,they surely want their kids learn more,and push a little but just did not go as extreme as chua does. kids like to play, it is their nature, but they also need the parents to remind them constantly how their efforts in study will benefit them in the future. i just told them the cons and pros when i want to see that they could study more and take on more.remarkably, regardless how difficult it is, they would know how important it is,they still hang on there, not thinking giving up.


Posted by It's about cross cultural values, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 24, 2011 at 9:15 am

There are so many racist generalizations made (on both sides) in the thread, I am very bothered by it.

I am a Caucasian mom with many Asian friends (and friends of many other races). I see wonderful and terrible parenting coming out of every culture. Let's face it, this is part of the HUMAN condition. We can spend all day pointing fingers. Each culture has its strengths and weaknesses, and I try my best to take the best of what I see from all these cultures and apply them in my parenting. I can't pretend to know what the "right" way to raise children is. I know what works for my family. Every child is different. Every family is different. Why do we all have this need to JUDGE others?

I do think that cultures tend to get softer on children when they become more affluent. That is a cross-cultural generalization that I think is historically true. However, individuals within those cultures who recognize the problem can balance it by teaching discipline,honesty, strong character which are learned attributes that support high acheivement, creativity, and a joyful, stable personal life. I think this is a cross cultural value...and it would be nice if we all appreciated that about each other instead of pointing racist fingers.

This is less a racial divide than a socio-economic division. It is a problem that affluent societies struggle with. Individual parents within those societies (regardless of race) deal with it differently. The problem already exists in upper class segments of Asian culture. (Just read their literature, even ancient literature.) It is a broader problem here (I think) because affluence is broader-based here.(Look at our literature and you see it here, too.)

Can we all please model some adult behavior here? Our children are watching. I am saddened by the very dark racist undertones of of both sides in this discussion. We can do better.


Posted by former Paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 24, 2011 at 10:02 am

@cross cultural, that's all very interesting considerations except...it's Amy Chua who wrote and is promoting/selling this book which is undeniably controversial for her personal gain that specifies her parenting and that brags Chinese mothers are superior (offensive and racist) and this book and the WSJ article have led a tremendous number of persons from all over to blog and post that they find her abusive.


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 24, 2011 at 11:14 am

"I do think that cultures tend to get softer on children when they become more affluent."

Translation: Trust fund babies are free to explore the flavor of the day.

Problem: Most kids are not TFBs, yet their public education is very much influenced by the demands of TFB parents, who do not want teachers to demand excellence in our schools...they want the teachers to promote 'self esteem' (which does not need to be earned), as well as 'exploration'. The result is that the kids do not learn the basic skills...which is devastating to many kids (who do not have their parents' money to buffer them).

There is a racist notion going about that Asians are not creative. Tell that to the Chinese engineers and designers who have built some incredibly beautiful and difficult bridges in China. Any American businessman who travels to China can refute such notions. American academics, who have travelled to China for a long time, can tell you that such notions are white racism in action (and very smug).


Posted by Mom of young Palo Alto adult, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Aaron

With your rants, you just strike me as a bitter, jealous person, nothing more. (I am not a "TFB", nor is anyone else in my family.)


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 24, 2011 at 1:12 pm

"Aaron
With your rants, you just strike me as a bitter, jealous person, nothing more"

I am not bitter at all. In fact, I am quite happy that educational/parental construct is changing...it has been a long time coming! I am celebrating this fact. I thank the Asian tiger moms for helping to make it happen.

I am firmly opposed to the white racist rants against the Asians. I am not bitter about it, but I recognize it for what it is.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 24, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I agree about the racist overtones. In fact, the whole premise of a 'western' style of parenting is racist and meaningless, not to mention mean. Go ahead and bicker over what ever cultural, racial, etc. issues you wish. A useful discussion might occur instead, however, if we stuck to parenting techniques as a subject, but refrained from stereotyping, generalizations, judgments, ignorant rants, and name calling, all of which Amy Chua began with. PS, calling your kid garbage and denying her the use of a bathroom are abusive, no matter what race or culture the perpetrator is.


Posted by jb, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 24, 2011 at 4:22 pm

A number of points:

First, in this context, "Former Paly parent" really resonates with both meanings.

Whatever you think about (You choose.) strict, harsh, disciplined, firm parenting, you haven't lived until your offspring confronts you with, "Mom, why didn't you make me take music lessons? Take harder math? Keep up my dance lessons?"

It happens, when they meet very accomplished peers.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Neighbor -- Thanks for the introducing some rationality to this discussion. I'm surprised and dismayed that the discussion is so focussed on race. On the other hand, I've seen anti-Asian remarks way too often in many PA Online discussions.

A couple of points:
1. Ms. Chua is clearly obsessive and -- regardless of her cultural background, academic degree, or position -- she lacks insight on SO MANY levels.

2. Also, I'm a bit surprised that Palo Altans don't see part of themselves in many of her attitudes.

Take a look at the aggressive sense of entitlement that unfold in letters on this website. Most discussions are way beyond balanced. Is it a good atmosphere in which to grow up?

And, the pressures on young people are huge. When I read the news and letters on these pages, I see a constant hostility toward schools/teachers (despite incredibly high local test scores), an obsession with kids getting into the right university and participating in all the "right" extra-curricular activities. This pressure on the kids comes just when adolescent angst is at a peak, Their youth is filled with worry about failure, along with the normal teen angst about clothes, appearance, relationships, etc.

It must be hard to be a kid in Palo Alto, trying to live up to a model that is unrealistic and unfair (and may be based on the parents' view of themselves).

Tell yourselves what you'll tell Ms. Chus -- ratchet down the expectations a little and give the kids a break.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 24, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Aaron,

Trust-fund babies attend private schools, so the idea that somehow indulged rich kids are permeating schools with permissive attitudes is kind of funny.

Your hysteria about China is ill-informed. China has experienced tremendous economic growth recently, but it's at a big cost. Much of it's unsustainable.

You haven't read Chua's book. I don't have any reason to think your better informed about the more complex matter of China's economic growth.

And Amy Chua, whether she likes it or not, is actually an American parent.


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 24, 2011 at 6:48 pm

"Trust-fund babies attend private schools"

Not in Palo Alto. Our PA schools are overrun with parents, in position of influence, who are raising TFBs. These parents dramatically affect the school curriculum. The Asian parents, who are now making their presence felt, will turn this around.


Posted by chinesemom, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 24, 2011 at 7:05 pm

it is basically because of culture difference, in china, this is the norm of the norm, if you do not do this(like chua, it is perfectly legal to hit or scold kids if they do not listen)and kids falling behind,then the good school will kick them out.one story tells that a student was so eager to learn he put a rope around his own neck, everytime when his head drops(want to sleep),the rope will get tight and wake him up,it is done by his own will,no one forced him to do this.


Posted by chinesemom, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 24, 2011 at 7:21 pm

now taht i live in here, i have seen both , i find they all have its good and bad sides,we need to find a middle ground to raise a kid full of knowledge(for the career) and open minded social skills, that is the way to do it.


Posted by well..., a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 24, 2011 at 7:29 pm

In a neighborhood where kids are encourage to cut class, where parents host "keggers" for their kid's 16th birthday party, and lawyers are hired at the first drop of a kid's misbehaving (instead of making it a teachable moment such as poor choices can have consequences), we are all a lot like Ms. Chua... more than we think we are.

Of course the guilty won't admit it and instead shovel blame at others.

Look in the mirror, Palo Alto parents.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 24, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Aaron,

Funny, last time I looked Palo Alto schools attracted Asians (and other parents who cared about good schools) because the schools were already high-caliber and competitive. Oh, and the voters are willing to vote in bonds and parcel taxes to keep the schools funded.

But, hey, why would you know that? Or, for that matter, maybe guess that Stanford profs have academically minded kids . . .

well . . .

That sounds more like gossip than anything else.

chinesemom,

Presumably no one makes kids jump out of windows in Korea if their test scores don't measure up, but you've got to wonder about a society where 200 kids kill themselves on annual basis over test scores.

Or one where a kid uses a noose to keep himself awake. Interesting symbolism.

Anyone remember the old H-P slogan "work smarter, not harder"? H-P did very well during that time.


Posted by chinesemom, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 24, 2011 at 8:30 pm

have you heard of the rabbit and turtle race story?the winner is the turtle...teachers always tell the sudents, you do not have to be afraid of your slow in learning,you must work hard than others, it is not the smartest one win the race, it is the one who works hard to get it done.by the way the kid who put his own head in a rope was a famous ancient general in chinese history.


Posted by chinesemom, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 24, 2011 at 8:41 pm

this ancient story was told in the text books for thousands of years,every school kids knows that, now what huge difference we have seen in different cultures.


Posted by chinesemom, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 24, 2011 at 8:57 pm

i am thinking if the story were to be put in a text books in usa schools, then the parents will call to report the author has mental problems.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Lots of adult A.D.D. on this site.
Focus.


Posted by chinesemom, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 24, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Thank you neighbor, our great neighborhood doctor.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 24, 2011 at 10:38 pm

chinesemom,

Slow and steady doesn't win the race as far as Silicon Valley goes. Here the theory is get there first, grab the market share and then fix the bugs.

Seriously, I don't think there's one right way to raise a child. Some kids benefit from a lot of external structure; others do better with less.

With the exception of Aaron, I think most of us know that.


Posted by chinesemom, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 25, 2011 at 12:14 am

i always think we need to find a middle ground to teach our kids,it should not be too loose and not too strict,we need their own independence as well as getting the knowledge necessary to survive in the future globe market.it is easy to say than done cause we can easily lose the balance.yes,inovation and market shares are important,but there is only one in a million chances for our ordinary people,the majority of us needs to go a long way,and there is no short cut for them.again some kids are smart and determined out of their own will,they need less support,i have heard a parent has to beg her son to stop study and go play.there will not be a cookie cut to fit all.we need to know and observe our kids to know the best way IN AMERICAN.


Posted by Perspective, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jan 25, 2011 at 10:14 am

We have a lot to learn that is great from Chinese culture that has come here. The Chinese culture here that I know is one that supports children in school ( ok..perhaps some are too harsh on their kids, but on the whole, who does better in our schools? Who gets the University spots?). Chinese culture here value family, takes care of each other, doesn't look to anyone else to do it for them. Chinese culture here works hard, takes care of themselves, makes smart, results oriented choices. I don't see too many Chinese-American students studying job-less degrees in University..and then I don't see them whining when they can't find work, because they study what they need to study to get jobs later.

There is a lot we have lost since I was a kid in this USA, from the way I was raised. I was raised with the above values...I often fail to see these values locally in the non-Asian culture here.

Ok, I agree, perhaps it is a bit much sometimes, like all things taken to extremes. The adult daughter who is not allowed to marry until she pays off her parents' home, the child who can spend only 30 minutes at a birthday party because he is told that his job is not to have fun, but to study, even in the summer, the teen who is not allowed to go to a Prom for the same reason. Ok, there, imo, needs to be a little balance, which from what little I have read is the point of Chua's book. And, I don't hold with the value that one has children whose job is to care for the parent. That is backward to me. I see our job as parents to raise independent, good people and set them out of the nest, wings flapping.

But to denigrate the concepts promoted by "Tiger Moms" is to not see the forest for the trees.

Immigrants have always brought a "slap in the face" to our eroding culture each time there is a new wave of (legal) immigrants. I see not difference here. Immigrants come from places where life is not as good, obviously or they wouldn't come here, and see a land of opportunity if one works for it.

I appreciate them. I am the child of an immigrant myself...and have done my best to pass on these values to my children.


Posted by Pesrpective, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jan 25, 2011 at 10:16 am

Oh!! Sorry Chinesemom above my post, I just read your post and see that you are saying the same thing. I bet you are a great mom.


Posted by Steve C, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 25, 2011 at 11:28 am

If the book and the article make us think about what may be wrong with our current parenting and educational systems, that can't be all bad.


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 25, 2011 at 1:37 pm

"Slow and steady doesn't win the race as far as Silicon Valley goes."

True enough, as far as it goes. But, OP, you are talking about a very few, and most of them are TFBs (protected by their own parents to cover their ass, in case they fail). The vast majority of students in this area, if they want to get a well-paying job in their future, will need to be workers bees with smarts. The permissively-raised kids are currently stacking up in mommy and daddy's house, hoping a for a new 'soft' job to open up for them...won't happen anymore. Not much demand for glass blower artists, these days....

One more time, OP, how many Ohlone kids have won major awards in science fairs over the past decade?


Posted by Read this, please, a resident of another community
on Jan 25, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Aaron:

Please read this article:

Web Link

Notice how, according to the article, Chua's method worked for the oldest girl, but the youngest rebelled and spoke publicly about her home life. A paragraph of the article (about Chua's daughters, Sophia and Lulu):

"But the cracks beneath the surface begin to show. Toothmarks are found on the piano (the culprit is Sophia, who gnaws on it during practice), and Lulu becomes rebellious, openly defying her teacher and her mother and bitterly complaining in public about her home life. By the age of 13, writes Chua, "[Lulu] wore a constant apathetic look on her face, and every other word out of her mouth was 'no' or 'I don't care'."

What brings the situation to an end is two horrifying incidents. First, Lulu hacks off her hair with a pair of scissors; then, on a family holiday to Moscow, she and Chua get into a public argument that culminates in Lulu smashing a glass in a cafe, screaming, "I'm not what you want – I'm not Chinese! I don't want to be Chinese. Why can't you get that through your head? I hate the violin. I hate my life. I hate you, and I hate this family!" Her relationship with Lulu in crisis, Chua, finally, thankfully, raises the white flag."

I am surprised that Child Protective Services has not looked into Chua's family life. Abuse of a child should not be tolerated, and it looks like Chua abused her children, emotionally and psychologically.


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 25, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Read,

Not all kids are going to get to the top. OK, I get that. The question is, do you want your kids to be denied an opportunity to get a top level job, and earn a good income, and play a musical instrument for life, or do you want them to be pathetic whiners, as adults?

I am surprised that whatever child protection societies and groups that exist, do not get in the face of permissive parents, who are condemning their kids to social and economic oblivion.

BTW, I did not read the book: Is Lulu still being a brat, or is she accomplishing? According to some, on this forum, she should have already committed suicide. I think her tiger mom loves her, and provided the kind of tough love that allows a kid to go beyond his/her self doubts. I call that good parenting.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 25, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Aaron,

How many big science awards are won by elementary school kids? I mean, c'mon. You don't even get the parameters of your question right. I don't recall your asking me the question before, so why "once again"?

I mean, this is just sloppy thinking on your part--akin to your praising Chua's approach without actually having read the book and knowing what she actually did. Your continuing lack of rigorous thinking is a bit ironic, to put it mildly.

But since you want to talk about Ohlone, let's talk a little about it. The approach to science is very hands-on and experimental--thanks to, yes, the Farm and its science teacher. Science, as a subject, works extremely well with project-based learning. And, while it depends on the teacher to an extent, I've seen some amazing projects out of kids.

You want to demonstrate the life cycle of plants? The Farm. Silts and soils? The Farm. The life of bees? The Farm. Biology? The Farm. Basic laws of physics? Also the Farm. In addition to the many things done within the classroom.

And, unlike some other schools, when it comes to science projects, the kids do the work themselves.

And while I can't answer your question as it's framed. I can think of students who once attended Ohlone who have gone on to win prestigious science fellowships. I can think of kids who are years ahead in math and reading, who, frankly, don't need a bunch of rote learning. And, yeah, they're going to be the best and the brightest. Ohlone works well for the very bright self-directed child because that child doesn't have to stay in lock step with a child who struggles more in a given area.

China's always going to have more worker bees--their population's four times the size of ours. Our independence, flexible thinking and innovation are key strengths, not weaknesses.

Or as the saying goes around here--one good engineer is worth ten weak ones.

That one good engineer needs to be able to think outside the box. Chinese and Indian-trained engineers don't come out of school with that capacity--American engineers do.

And since you seem obsessed with science fairs and such--tell me where the Chinese Nobels in science are? (Or Singaporean ones?)



Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 25, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Aaron,

Your "permissive parent" is a paper tiger and seems to mean whatever you want it to mean.

Here's a little story for you. Two kids, same family, close in age. One flounders about in high school, gets a dead-end job, but starts classes at a community college. Finds an interesting subject, gets serious about school, also, because family has no money, starts doing some low-paid work in area of interest.

Second kid--terrific student with extracurriculars. Gets a scholarship to an Ivy.

Both graduate the year of the economic collapse. Which one got a job right off the bat?

Yep, the prodigal student with the job experience (who also ended, via hard work and transfers, graduating from a top school.)

That's how it works in the United States. Where you went to school is not the end-all and be-all of success here. People get second chances and have done amazing things with them.

And, oh yeah, you didn't read the book. Sorry, this permissive parent doesn't put up with that kind of laziness. Go do your homework.


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 25, 2011 at 4:07 pm

"How many big science awards are won by elementary school kids? I mean, c'mon."

Plenty. But you need to do your homework, beyond the blue ribbons in elementary school. The same kids tend to win the gold medals at the high school level. Then they get academic scholarhips to Harvard, Stanford, MIT, CIA (paid for), etc. OP, you simply are not up to speed. The paradigm has changed!

However, the main issue is that the mid-level, top end jobs will go to those kids who can do calculus and organic chemistry and engineering equations (in their heads, without much of a pause). Perhaps more importantly, the managers of the current technological economy do not want to hear about a bunch of whining from brats. Yes, there will be a few brats who make it big (good for them), but they are not a model to build our educational/parental approach.

Our tiger moms are leading the way, and we should be celebrating them. The age of the brat has ended.


Posted by Common misconception, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm

"Then they get academic scholarhips to Harvard, Stanford, MIT"

These schools do not give out academic scholarships. Granted, the financial aid packages are very generous, but they are all need-based. Winners of science competitions do received money for college, but for the most part that comes from the corporate sponsors of the competitions, not the colleges.


Posted by former Paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm

To claim American parenting is permissive or whatever is ridiculous. There is a great range of styles, practices, beliefs.

This woman is highly offensive in her brags and claims and put-downs of others. ALL American (read: Caucasian) college students are not losers, for God's sake.

A big focus of Ms. Chua's attention is the utter determination her kids will be "winning" musicians. BTW if you know about truly accomplished classical musicians/music education, you would NOT support her style - it's the stage parent style for sure, but really not optimum.

It is quite possible to obtain fairly high musical proficiency by a variety of methods and still not be a musician with true genius or accomplishments that would be acknowledged by top classical musicians. There are a TON of wooden musicians out there the general public as well as some "Competitions" have rewarded with praise. However, to the discerning there ARE differences that are meaningful.

Within the world of the Chinese in this regard, I recommend reading the Wall Street Journal article "Why Yundi Li was cut" (easily Googled) comparing TWO CHINESE pianists, the "unmusical" Lang Lang and Yundi Li and you will better understand this. I recommend skipping Lang Lang and seeing Yundi when you can.


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 25, 2011 at 4:46 pm

"These schools do not give out academic scholarships"

Yes they do, but they give it the cover of financial need. All the top schools try to attract the top students, with the offer of financial aid.

When are we going to start talking about reality? Our tiger moms are doing it, but when are the rest of you going to wake up?


Posted by Wow, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 25, 2011 at 4:47 pm

"That one good engineer needs to be able to think outside the box. Chinese and Indian-trained engineers don't come out of school with that capacity--American engineers do. "

OP, you are making the same mistake as Amy Chua did.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 25, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Come on, it is not only down to parenting as to whether a child is going to succeed. We have to look at the educational system here compared to other countries (not just Asian countries) to get a clue on what is happening outside the US.

For a start, we have 180 days in school and we end at 3.00 pm approximately in high school. That puts us behind before we start on what is actually being taught.

Secondly the emphasis on science fairs, homework projects and soft assignments such as posters for English/science/social studies and cooking for language being part of the grade is ridiculous. Many if not most of these are done by parents, or bought from previous years (Rube Goldberg physics) and points can be lost by poor coloring or putting your name in the wrong place, is nothing to do with what the student knows, but more how the game is played. Why are tests and quizzes not generating 99% of the grade and why is the final test which we say stress out the students so much only worth 10% of the grade? If we really want to test what the student has learnt we should emphasise the knowledge acquired and the ability to present the material in such a way that outside help is not possible. After all, a college student, or even a rookie employee at a bigwhiz company cannot run to parents for help whenever the project/assignment is tough, so why should we enable our highschoolers to do the same?

Additionally, why are we putting so much emphasis on sports and non-academic subjects and treating them equally to our academic subjects? Why do we put so much emphasis on community service and extra curriculas as we do? Yes, they may help a student to become more rounded and perhaps get a sports scholarship. Yes, they may be fun for the child and perhaps even the family and do have maturing, team working and social aspects. But they are equally stressful and their educational value is questionable.

We are competing globally with countries where the academic standards are very much higher. Yes, we may say that we provide a more rounded education, but do we provide graduates with more knowledge and more ready to enter the workplace. We must ask ourselves why so many US graduates feel the need to go to grad school which is not the case in many other successful countries?
Why are our university undergraduate programs not enough for entry level engineering/bioscience etc. jobs? Why do we still have those in their mid 20s still studying where other countries are in the workplace becoming fully fledged members of society, contributing to the economy? On top of that, why do we have so many 20 somethings still living at home after they graduate?

So much is wrong with the educational system when we look in it this way. It can't be said that it is down to parenting styles when education varies so much worldwide.


Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Jan 25, 2011 at 6:27 pm

To former Paly parent, I disagree that Lang Lang is "unmusical". He is a very fine artist. But more importantly, he makes classical music "cool" to the younger generations and the populace. He inspires the curiosity among youngsters. He makes classical music "rock". Lang Lang has made much greater contribution than Yundi Li could have ever made. Without people like him, classical music will be gradually phased into oblivion. Fine artists such as Yundi Li are, frankly, "a dime a dozen".

Lang Lang's father is, of course, 1000 times more abusive than Amy Chua. I can only think of Beethoven's father, as described in some folklore, a comparable monster.


Posted by parent, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 25, 2011 at 6:42 pm

i agree with what james hoosac said.

to me yundi li looks more like a chinese nerd who does not know how to market himself. lang lang, on the other hand, is like an american entrepreneur


Posted by former Paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 25, 2011 at 8:28 pm

@ Resident
While this doesn't strictly speaking have to do w/Ms. Chua and her "Tiger Mother" methods
How many American schools are you familiar with? Everything across the States isn't exactly like it is here in PAUSD. Some places have better situations with regards to all the variables including: curriculum, facilities, school days, IB availability, teachers and on and on and some are "different" and some are undeniably worse. It is incredibly varied.
I can assure you in my upringing (American-elsewhere) and in my kids' education we had not much emphasis on sports, beyond a regular sense that it was an option some are involved with to one degree or another. Though it IS true, PALY is incredibly focused on that, I cannot deny - this was a surprise to us.


Posted by Claude Ezran, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 25, 2011 at 9:07 pm

No disrespect of Chinese and American mothers is intended here; most do a great job, and let's face it: it is a tough job to be a mother. But this debate is completely missing a key point: the most superior of all superior mothers, the mothers of all mothers, are the French mothers. They strike an equilibrium between extremes: no video games, very little TV, strong emphasis on education and top grades, but there is no drilling and social activities are encouraged; and math, sciences, literature, and culture are all deemed as equally important in fostering well balanced individuals. Furthermore, their children know how to dress with elegance and cook great meals!


Posted by Midtown Resident, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 26, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Not just French mothers, but Russian and Jewish mothers as well place a great importance on academic and cultural enrichment...
I am all for more balance, but in this day and age it is hard to compete for jobs.


Posted by Read this please, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2011 at 3:59 pm

"Not all kids are going to get to the top. OK, I get that. The question is, do you want your kids to be denied an opportunity to get a top level job, and earn a good income,"

The point is that Chua's methods did not work. They were OK for her oldest daughter, who decided to be an "easy to raise child" (her own words) but failed with the youngest daughter. I do not want kids to ge denied an opportunity for a top job, but that opportunity can come without Chua's methods. (look at Chua and her husband, both just as successful, both Yale professors yet raised in very different ways, the husband was not raised the way Chua was). In fact, the youngest daughter seems to be following a different path and only time will tell whether she becomes a successful productive citizen or not.

I would not want is for my child to behave the way Chua's youngest did: to the extreme of biting the piano? cutting their hair? throwing public tantrums saying how much they hate their life and do not want to be chinese?

I prefer to let children grow to their full potential without abusive methods that drive them to behave in ways that are an obvious cry for help. High expectations? Yes. Abusive methods? NO.

"and play a musical instrument for life, or do you want them to be pathetic whiners, as adults?"

Chua's youngest daughter rebelled, said she hated the violin. Forcing children to play an instrument does not foster their love for it, even if they can master it. Pathetic whiner you say? That was what Chua's methods produced: her youngest daughter publicly spoke, in a negative way, about her home life, and threw public tantrums in the end, out of pure frustration (re-read the article I posted). I can't imagine a child saying, in public while on vacation (a time for fun) that she hates her life, that she hates the violin, that she does not want to be chinese - but Chua's child said all that, makes you wonder about Chua's methods.

"I am surprised that whatever child protection societies and groups that exist, do not get in the face of permissive parents, who are condemning their kids to social and economic oblivion. "

You may not like permissive parents, but they are not abusing their children - not physically, or emotionally or psychologically. Are their kids spoiled? Maybe, but they are not abused so CPS does not need to worry about them.

Chua's kids: that's a different story. A child who has been so severely abused, emotionally and pyschologically that she has to bite the piano to release frustration, to cut her hair out of anger, that is constantly threatened with going without food or water or have her belongings burned.... now that requires Child Protective Services to look into.


Posted by Read this, please (To Aaron), a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2011 at 5:01 pm

"BTW, I did not read the book: Is Lulu still being a brat, or is she accomplishing? According to some, on this forum, she should have already committed suicide."

I would not call Lulu a brat - she was simply rebelling against a parenting style that she found too harsh. Only time will tell if Lulu grows up to be successful or not.

As for your comment about suicide: please understand the kid is still young, we do not know how either of Chua's daughters will be as adults, how they will deal with adversity, etc. But if you read some of what others have said, suicide is not uncommon, here is one example (there are others but this one is about a girl raised with Chua's methods, got an MBA from Harvard, and committed suicide when the startup company where she worked failed):

"Christine Lu's memories of her tiger mom growing up in Los Angeles are laden with sorrow. Mom's ramrod tactics failed on her, but they worked on her older sister. She hit 28 and spiraled into a depression that led to her suicide after the startup where she worked fizzled.

"She graduated from Harvard with an MBA. That was the first time she had ever experienced failure," said the 34-year-old Lu, who was born in Taiwan and moved to LA with her parents and three siblings at age 2."

Web Link

Here is another story that hits closer to home (an MIT graduate, current Stanford asian student at the time of suicide):

"While offering sympathy to her family, Santa Rosa authorities said Thursday there was overwhelming evidence that Stanford student May Mengyao Zhou committed suicide by taking a massive dose of sleeping pills in the trunk of her car in January."

Web Link

"In an interview with The Tech, Yitong Zhou said detectives had spoken with May Zhou's younger sister about academic pressures, asking her questions about how their father would have reacted if May Zhou received an A-minus in a class. "They asked all these strange questions," he said to The San Jose Mercury News. "My daughter was a straight-A student … I think they're going the wrong direction. They're looking for clues to support their hypothesis."

Zhou graduated from MIT in 2004 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and obtained an MEng in EECS a year later."

Web Link

It is too early to tell whether Chua's girls will be well adjusted, successful individuals or not. From what I have read, they already experienced inner struggles (biting the piano, cutting of hair are cries for help).


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 26, 2011 at 5:54 pm

This thing is going over the edge!

I know of many permissively raised kids, some of them friends of my own kids, and many whom were complete brats, and many of those are now currently unemployed and their main job is to obtain power-of-attorney over their parents estates. Despicable creatures, really, but TFBs have their own code of ethics. BTW I know three of them who committed suicide, not a tiger mom/dad on the horizon.

The main issue, here, is whether or not your college kids are trained to get a well-paying job within the next five years. If not, you have not done your job as a parent in Palo Alto. You are just making excuses for your own failures. Don't blame Asian tigers for you own deficits.


Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2011 at 5:55 pm

To Read this, anecdotal instances of suicides purported due to prior high pressure parenting is pointless. Without convincing statistics it does not prove anything. Palo Alto schools has its spade of recent tragedies. Are they Chinese students?

Furthermore, other parenting styles may lead to kids killed by risky sports activities, drugs, gangs, DUI, etc., which is no better than suicides. The numbers of those deaths are probably much bigger.



Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2011 at 9:05 pm

From the latest announcement of Intel Science competition finalists, I can see that 15 of the 40 students bear Chinese last names. For a ethnic minority that is of 1.2% of total U.S. population, this is no small feat. Are they from tiger families? I don't know.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 27, 2011 at 12:41 am

Aaron,

Name one elementary-school science award that's "big"--i.e. similar in importance to the Intel.

C'mon, you claimed there were important elementary-school science awards. This should be good.

The story I told you about the two kids isn't an out-of-date story--it's a recent one--both kids graduated last Spring. Job experience matters.

Engineering is a lucrative career--at the beginning, but you'll make more money as an actuary if you don't get the right options. Engineering salaries flatten out. We may need engineers, but that doesn't mean the incentives to become engineers are there.

As for your suicidal trust fund babies--sorry, this reeks of exaggeration and distortions. But, hey, you got a link that shows that trust-fund babies with permissive parents are more likely to kill themselves--go right ahead and post. Don't forget to define what you mean by "permissive" and why it applies, for example, to all parents with kids at Ohlone.

James,

The CDC issued a report in 2009 about the higher risk of suicide among Asian-Americans.

Here's an excerpt from a 2009 article in AsianWeek by Frances Lam

Web Link

Three Chinese-American students at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have killed themselves in the last three months. Two died by helium asphyxiation and the cause of death of the third student, though deemed a suicide, is yet to be determined. Their stories have been covered in the Chinese language media, but remain virtually unreported in the mainstream.

These suicides are anything but isolated incidents. Popular opinion may project Asians and Asian Americans as super achievers, scoring high on the SAT, dominating prestigious colleges and working as high-paid professionals, but the dark side of that narrative is that they are much more likely than the average American to commit suicide, according to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At Cornell University, for instance, 13 of the 21 student suicide victims between 1996 and 2006 were Asians or Asian Americans. That picture is not complete unless you consider that Asians make up of only 14 percent of the total Cornell student body. Cornell is so concerned that in 2002 it formed a special Asian and Asian American Campus Climate Task Force to look into the reason behind the high number of suicides.
...........................

Yeah, the issue of depression and suicide among young Asian-Americans isn't simply a matter of anecdotes--it's quite real and some of us can see it for the tragedy it is.

The statistics on suicide aren't unknown and are a concern among many in the Asian-American community. You know, because Asian-Americans happen to be real people with real feelings--not just a damn model minority you can use as a cudgel.

Life's not a test score.


Posted by Third Generation, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 27, 2011 at 1:06 am

You guys are still at it? Look, it's one thing to live in Asia where all the kids are strapped to their desk to study, so to speak, but to come to America and have that kind of pressure when other kids are having fun does something to the psyche. Immigrant Asian parents don't realize that their kids may never be leaders because they are missing out on social skills. Other than owning the company, part of landing a job is being likeable at the job interview. I really feel sorry for these kids who have no smiles and appear beaten down. But as I mentioned before, many of the Palo Alto Asian immigrants in north PA are not tiger moms.


Posted by Read this (To Aaron), a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2011 at 11:40 am

OhlonePar posted a very good article. Aaron: you should read it. The articles I posted earlier about suicide were a response to your mentioning suicide. OhlonePar also posted a link to the CDC, I suggest you read it.

Something that caught my attention from OhlonePar's article is:

"Asian Americans are also less likely than other groups to rely on mental health services, according to studies, and they prefer instead to rely on culturally acceptable traditions of discipline and family order."

This issue came to light when when Iris Chang, a chinese american who lived in Silicon Valley and wrote "The Rape of Nanking" committed suicide.

Just because someone appears to be successful (by your standards of having a good professional life), it does not mean they are happy. Iris Chang is a good example of that: she had every reason to be happy: a successful professional life, she was married, had a child. To every outsider, she seemed to have the perfect life, and yet she chose to commit suicide.

Having a good job is not everything and does not guarantee success or happiness. Does that mean I justify mediocrity or promote unemployment and idleness? No, it means that I believe that success can be achieved without the harsh methods used by people like Chua.

I say this again: Chua's daughters are too young for us to know what they will be like as adults, but they already showed signs of distress, like biting of the piano or cutting of hair. The "tiger mom" method will not work for everyone, and when it seems to work in the surface (read some articles I posted earlier), it may backfire later on in life.


Posted by parent, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 27, 2011 at 12:10 pm

To To Read This,

What does Iris Chang's death have to do with Chua? Is it documented anywhere that she was raised the same way as Chua and her daughters?

As far as I know, she committed suicide because of deep depression associated with her work on the book she was famous for.


Posted by Curious, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 27, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I couldn't find the CDC report (mentioned in a previous post) that states the higher rates of suicide amongst Asian Americans. If someone could send a link for that report, I'd be interested in reading it.

Instead, I found a CDC report for the period between 2002-2006. This report states that the highest suicide rates were among American Indian/Alaskan Native males and Non-Hispanic White males. For all female race/ethnicity groups, the American Indian/Alaskan Natives and Non-Hispanic Whites had the highest rates. The Asian/Pacific Islanders had the lowest suicide rates among males while the Non-Hispanic Blacks had the lowest suicide rate among females.

Here's a link to the data...
Web Link


Posted by Read this, a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2011 at 12:44 pm

"What does Iris Chang's death have to do with Chua? Is it documented anywhere that she was raised the same way as Chua and her daughters?

As far as I know, she committed suicide because of deep depression associated with her work on the book she was famous for"

Parent:

I am sorry if my post was confusing. I used Iris Chang as an example of how asians tend to be reluctant to seek help for mental issues. Chang's suicide brought to light this issue.




Posted by parent, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 27, 2011 at 1:13 pm

"I used Iris Chang as an example of how asians tend to be reluctant to seek help for mental issues. Chang's suicide brought to light this issue."

To Read This,

Please understand the difference between asian and american culture. Asian families are very close knit and a lot of the time they don't need to go out and look for help from a stranger at a mental health service. It is true that Asian parents expect a lot from their kids. But please don't forget that they are the most loving parents who would sacrifice everything for their kids.

Iris Chang's case is very unique and you can NOT make a generalized conclusion as you did.

And by the way, reaching out to help from mental health services does not gurantee the prevention of suisides.


Posted by Read this, a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2011 at 1:30 pm

"Please understand the difference between asian and american culture. Asian families are very close knit and a lot of the time they don't need to go out and look for help from a stranger at a mental health service. It is true that Asian parents expect a lot from their kids. But please don't forget that they are the most loving parents who would sacrifice everything for their kids."

I know about asian culture - my grandfather was chinese.

"reaching out to help from mental health services does not gurantee the prevention of suisides."

It does not guarantee it, but it can certainly help. I read, back when Chang's suicide made the news, that her depression could have been successfully treated.


"Iris Chang's case is very unique and you can NOT make a generalized conclusion as you did."


Suicide among asians has caught the attention of many, and I don't think that Chang's case is unique (imo).

If you read this:

Web Link

Web Link

you will see that Chang's situation was not unique. The reasons for suicide may be different (in Chang's case depression, in others because they could not handle failure - Christine Lu, etc), but the fact that they tend not to seek help is a well documented and talked about issue.


Posted by Western Tiger, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 27, 2011 at 2:44 pm

This should not be a war of cultures.

Instead of having a polarized discussion, we should be identifying the best practices of each culture. Amy Chua's article was extreme for marketing value, but if you tone it down about 10 levels, there is some value there.

Perhaps a "Western Tiger" approach could benefit all.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 27, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Once again, the net chomped up my original reply, but Read This says some of what I would have said.

parent,

You say that Asian parents would sacrifice anything for their kids. Ironically, that can be part of the problem. What if you can't live up to the size of the sacrifice? If you add Chua-style parenting--i.e. approval (love) is conditional upon external achievement--then you've got a recipe for disaster when a kid faces failure.

And when a kid's in a situation at a place like MIT, where *every* student was in the top of some class or another, the odds are very high that a particular student will not be no. 1.

There's a very real cultural clash. My understanding is that in Japan, China, Korea you cram and test your way into a top school. Once you get there, however, you're pretty much set for life.

Here, getting into that top university is an advantage, but not a guarantee.

One of the many reasons I'm not impressed by Chua's approach is that I don't think controlling your kids' every move builds passion or resilience.

Part of my job as a parent is to teach my child how to get through the world when I'm no longer here. That's not going to happen unless I allow my child a sense of independence--a sense of self. It might be very different in Asia where the family unit is less atomized, but, as it is, I'm in the United States, a place where the individual is valued more highly than the family unit. I'm not saying that one way is right or wrong, simply that they're different.

And it does create a conflict in second-gen. AmerAsian kids. Or as a friend of mine in that category said, "It tears people up inside."

I think, by the way, it's that tension that Chua was trying to work out through her crazy parenting. I wish she understood herself better--would have made for a better book and for better parenting.


Posted by parent, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 27, 2011 at 3:23 pm

To Read This,

At the time of Iris Chang's death, she was taking two drugs Depakote and Risperdal for her depression. It's hard for me to believe that she did not seek outside help. In her case, it apparently did not work.

And when I say her case is unique, I meant the cause of her death, it has nothing to do with family pressure, but has everything to do with her work because it was highly political. Here is an excerpt from her suicide notes

"There are aspects of my experience in Louisville that I will never understand. Deep down I suspect that you may have more answers about this than I do. I can never shake my belief that I was being recruited, and later persecuted, by forces more powerful than I could have imagined. Whether it was the CIA or some other organization I will never know. As long as I am alive, these forces will never stop hounding me.

Days before I left for Louisville I had a deep foreboding about my safety. I sensed suddenly threats to my own life: an eerie feeling that I was being followed in the streets, the white van parked outside my house, damaged mail arriving at my P.O. Box. I believe my detention at Norton Hospital was the government's attempt to discredit me.

I had considered running away, but I will never be able to escape from myself and my thoughts. I am doing this because I am too weak to withstand the years of pain and agony ahead.[15]"

In the link you provided, even the author admitted that "While raising consciousness about these data is crucial, VERY LITTLE is known about Asian American women's suicides due to the scarcity of empirical studies on the subject, particularly from the perspectives of Asian American women themselves." Her study did not produce the link (statistically) between Asian American suiside and parental pressure for the age 15-24 Asian American women group. This view was echoed by the second article.











Posted by parent, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 27, 2011 at 3:52 pm

OhlonePar,

You seem to be assuming that everyone who disagree with you on this thread approves Amy Chua's parenting approach. Clearly it was not the case.

Chua said very clearly that her book is not meant to be a handbook to teach people about parenting. It's a memoir for her. And indeed,only time will tell whether her approach will work for her older daughter (she apprently admitted in her book that it did not work for her younger duaghter).

Most of the Asian parents I know sacrifice everything so their kids can go to the best school. That's the truth. Look around yourself in Palo Alto. How many Asians are moving in? Most of them are just wage earners without old money passing down to them or having profitted from hot IPOs.

I agree with the other post "Amy Chua's article was extreme for marketing value, but if you tone it down about 10 levels, there is some value there. ".







Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 27, 2011 at 5:14 pm

parent,

Iris Chang's suicide note (with the paranoia) is symptomatic of depressive thinking rather than objective reality. And, as I said, she had a depressive's taste in topics. In a sense, there's nothing "very unique" about her suicide--it falls in line with those of many other talented people.

I don't think everyone who disagrees with me is a Chua-style parent--which is why I'm calling it Chua-style instead something more generally inclusive.

That said, I think Chua is an extreme example of an approach to parenting. In my last point, I was discussing why issues can arise.

By the way, why the hell do you assume that the rest of us don't sacrifice to send our kids to school here? How do you think Palo Alto got good schools in the first place? Look at the housing stock here--Eichlers weren't built for rich people.

Palo Alto has good schools because the families here have cared enough to create good schools and paid to maintain them.

And nearly ALL of us have immigrant ancestors who sacrificed everything to come here.

A little historical perspective would not be amiss here.


Posted by chinesemom, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 27, 2011 at 5:49 pm

when comparing chua to a lot of parents in china,she is so normal, maybe too nice.chinese kids can not go to bathroom or free-roaming in the classroom,are not even allowed to put their hands on the desks,unless teacher tells them to write something or until the bell rings.


Posted by Mom of young Palo Alto adult, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Here is an article in today's NY TImes, with some food for thought for everyone here:

Record Level of Stress Found in College Freshmen

Web Link


Posted by Mom of young Palo Alto adult, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2011 at 6:11 pm

You'll find more details on the Freshman Survey mentioned above at:

Web Link


Posted by parent, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 27, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Ohlonepar,

please read my post carefully. Iris chang's death is a direct result of depression, not the result of chua-style parenting as Read This was trying to make a case of.

talking about sacrifice. I am stating the fact that I know. asian parents, particularly the chinese parents i knew of, spent a million dollar on an Eichler house (you are right that there were not built for rich people 50+ years ago) in pa so their kids can attend schools here. Many times, they were laughed at (on these forums too) that they don't know how to enjoy life.. all they know is to work work .....That is the sacrifice I am talking about-- they are working hard to build a foundation for the next generation. I am sure your ancestors did the same thing for your grandparents, parents ... I don't have interest in assuming or knowing whether you made sacrifice. I wish you the best of luck to enable your child to be the next zuckberg.

At least two things I agree with Chua:

hard work-- it will get you somewhere even if you are not Zuckberg or Jobs.
set higher expectations for your child and believe he/she can achieve that with hard work


Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2011 at 8:21 pm

The PA student Andrew Liu of the front page plays piano too:

Web Link

Web Link

Not as good as Chua's daughter. But seems of respectable level.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 27, 2011 at 10:02 pm

parent,

Read my post carefully. I never said Iris Chang's suicide was the result of Chua-style parenting. I said we don't know.

What I dispute is that Chang's depression was solely the result of the topic on which she was working. The roots of serious depression are more complex and deeply rooted than that. And, yes, often do have their roots in childhood.

Non-Asian parents also sacrifice a great deal to live here, buying smaller houses than they could afford elsewhere or,in several cases, renting for ten years or more when they could afford a house elsewhere.

Perhaps we can agree that a lot of people sacrifice to get their kids in good schools here.

We are also in agreement regarding the value of hard work and high expectations--though I approach the latter somewhat differently, I suspect.

James,

What I'd really like to know is if he'll play the piano when he's no longer trying to get into college. I hope so.









Posted by parent, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 27, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Ohlonepar,

I am glad that we actually agree on many things.
1) there's no evidenceto suggest that chang's death is a result of her upbringing in a chinese family.
2) I am sure a lot of parent made sacrifice so their child can go to PA schools. I am just appalled at how much sacrifice Asian, particularly 1st generation Chinese made for this reason.
3) Again, it's important to understand that chua's book is a memoir, not a parenting book. chua herself stated again and again that her approach is not the only way or the right way for everyone. You approach might be the best for your kids.

Lastly, sorry to say it but I kind of dislike the tone you used to comment on Andrew Liu piano playing. Many recent Asian high achievers in PA has demonstrated that they are not simply good at math, science, they are all around (sports, music, debating). I think it's a good thing and should not be mocked at.


Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2011 at 11:00 pm

OP,

Zukerberg does not write code anymore. Neither does Bill Gates, Eric Schmidt, or probably Larry Page. I don't see anything wrong of Andrew Liu stop playing piano after getting into college, although I think this skill, like riding a bicycle and swimming, will stay with him for the rest of his life.


Posted by Perspective, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jan 28, 2011 at 5:54 am

To Western Tiger: Well said! Better than my long post which meant the same.

To Mom of Young Palo Alto Adult: Trust me, if your kid goes to Gunn, he or she will feel infinitely LESS stress the first year of college than any year at Gunn. The pressure is immense to prove yourself in taking the hardest classes ( college level while you are 16), getting all As, joining every club and athletic team possible,and doing "volunteer' work...all on high school schedule with a 16 or 17 year old brain.

By the time they get to college, they can't believe how much LESS time is spent on silly stuff in the classroom, and how much less stress they have since all they have to do is..go to school!!

And, at college, they have real breaks for weeks, sometimes a month, between semesters, where they can rest and recharge their batteries.

Unlike here, where if they are really, really lucky they have a whole 3 days off in January to rest ( though often even then they have some project from a year long class hanging over their heads).

Being a "Western Tiger" mom here is tough, but necessary to help our kids get through this environment, yet support them the best we can to keep them from getting exhausted, stressed and depressed. Tough calls.



Posted by former Paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 28, 2011 at 11:20 am

Oh so noble persons...fyi there are plenty of non-Chinese parents who ALSO have --> sacrificed in order to buy an overpriced small home in PA.
Did you now virtually ALL of us here respect education and hard work. There is NO ethnic group that has a lock hold on intellectual giftedness or hard work.
It HAS been shown that intense parental assistance, which takes many forms, leads to more prestigious university offers. It has also been demonstrated that many question the extreme parenting methods that Amy Chua recounts - as I have said already, she really is in shameless full-bore bragging mode - and MANY thoughtful persons have reacted with disagreement with her, all around this country. In my case, I find her personally offensive for several reasons.


Posted by John94306, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 28, 2011 at 12:36 pm

John94306 is a registered user.

There's always another side to the story.
Check out Amy Chua's daughter's well-written response to all the criticism:

Web Link

- Western Tiger
21dads.com


Posted by Cupertino Dad, a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2011 at 11:18 pm

I work in Palo Alto so I frequent this site. My children have gone through the Cupertino school district. It's also a very intensely competitive school district. When one of my son's was in 6th grade I noticed a little Asian girl crying her eyes out and pleading with her teacher. She explained how her father would be hugely disappointed in her and there would be some very serious consequences for her horrible grade. She was sitting on the floor crying her eyes out. Her terrible family shaming grade, 98%. That is way too much pressure for a sixth grader.

Flash forward a few years. I'm picking my son and some of his friends to take them out for lunch. The parking lot is crowded and three lanes have to merge to exit one driveway. I notice a car cutting people off, nearly hitting them if they don't get out of her way. When she came to my car she damn near nudged me to get me to yield. I rolled down my window and politely told her she had to wait her turn. Then 1/2 mile away from the school she pulls up next to me at a light, gets out of her car and runs towards me calling me names and threatening the little white boys in the car. When I get back to the school I report this to the dean. he explains how he's not surprised at all. He's been at the school for 25 years and the current Asian females are the worst students he's ever had to deal with. They are rude, mean, disrespectful, and act superior to non-Asian students.

Aaron displays some of the attitudes as these new students.

My son is now a master BMW mechanic and can work at any shop he wants. He maybe working on one of Aaron's high achieving children's BMWs one day. But don't you dare say he's unhappy and a whiner. He and his wife have full happy lives, go skiing whenever they want, are saving for a house, and have a good life plan.


Posted by Not evidence of Chua's methods being good, a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2011 at 8:14 am

"Check out Amy Chua's daughter's well-written response to all the criticism:"

Did you read it? She says she "chose" to be an "easy to raise child" - that says it all! It also seems that the father played a huge role on this child's emotional upbringing. The youngest daughter, however, did not choose to be an easy to raise child, she chose not to "buy" her mother's "love" and instead rebelled.

You know, even kids who have been abused tend to bond with, and defend, their abuser.

If children who have been kidnapped defend their abuser, imagine how a biological child will defend a parent, no matter what.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2011 at 8:29 am

an interesting opinion:

Web Link

But really, if the chinese way is so superior, and Chua's methods so good, why on earth did she marry a white guy that was raised in a liberal way rather than the horrible tiger mom way?


Posted by Agree, a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2011 at 9:00 am

"My son is now a master BMW mechanic and can work at any shop he wants. He maybe working on one of Aaron's high achieving children's BMWs one day. But don't you dare say he's unhappy and a whiner. He and his wife have full happy lives, go skiing whenever they want, are saving for a house, and have a good life plan. "

I agree with you that happiness is not defined the way Aaron is defining it. In fact, if you read some of what was said about Chua, and some of what she wrote (you can read it online) you wonder about whether her "successful on the outside" life is worth all the unhappiness. Chua's words:

""Happiness is not a concept I tend to dwell on," she writes. "This has always worried me. When I see the piano- and violin-induced calluses on my daughters' fingertips, or the teeth marks on the piano, I'm sometimes seized with doubt." "

""Jed is constantly criticizing me for comparing Sophia to Lulu." "One evening, after another shouting match with the girls over music, I had an argument with Jed." "

Chua's home life does not seem all that happy. And the thing is, whether you choose to be a professional high achiever or not, you can be happy if you do it the right way and do not go to extremes like Chua did.

I have several siblings, and most of us have postgraduate education and what Aaron considers "success." Yet we were raised by what Aaron calls "permissive parents."

I say most because one of my siblings chose not to go to college. He became a mechanic right after dropping out of college. He now has his own mechanic shops and makes a good living. Like the rest of us, he is happy in his personal life as well, even though he does not have a postgraduate degree like we do, and my parents understood that pushing academics on him would have been pointless, so they let him pursue other interests, and like I said, he is doing very well financially (he also invests in stocks and real estate) and is very happy with his chosen profession. Ironically, one of my siblings who has a law degree at some point borrowed money from our "not college educated" sibling! Yeah, our not college grad sibling has made a lot of money without a formal college education.

If you love what you do, you will succeed and be a high achiever in your chosen field. For me, that happens to be medicine. I love what I do, I love the challenges of being a doctor. My brother loves being a mechanic. Two different paths, but both successful, both making a good living, both happy. Chua's methods are awful, it is that simple. And Aaron, you may want to re-consider your philosophy of life and re-define what you consider "success."


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 29, 2011 at 11:18 am

"I have several siblings, and most of us have postgraduate education and what Aaron considers "success." Yet we were raised by what Aaron calls "permissive parents." "

Yesterday's model won't work anymore, in a globally competitive society. The post-graduates, in the hard sciences, are now disproportionately those who have been raised in a structued and disciplined environment. Permissively-raised kids, if they can find a job, are learning to ask, "Would you like fries with your burger, sir?" I am reminded of the old "Serpico" movie, where Serpico, the undercover cop, hangs out with a bunch of permissives, and they always claimed to be something other than what they were in reality (for example, the waiter would always be an actor waiting for her/his job on Broadway). Fantasy might be a useful thing, as part of an overall denial strategy, but it only goes so far. In the end, the permissives will whine about their economically depressing lives.

A well-trained technician, like a mechanic, can have a very satisfying economic life, especially if he/she decides take on an ownership/risk role. However, I have yet to meet a Palo Alto parent who aspires to have their kids become a mechanic. The thing I see in Palo Alto is kids stacking up at home, waiting for something "meaningful" to inspire them. Those without money (not TFBs) must adapt to reality, and accept a service sector job; the TFBs are mostly pathetics, who leach off their own sense of entitlement.


Posted by chinesemom, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2011 at 11:27 am

if only life can be this carefree,and everyone could be happy,look at people waiting for day jobs at the street,they are happy coz lives here are much better than their homeland,they earn money they spent it,everyday they have party,they do not save,they are carefree,happy.
truly,there will be happy people it depends on what the defination of the word of "happy" means to them.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 29, 2011 at 5:27 pm

A few things:

parent, James,

No, playing the piano is NOT like riding a bike. It's an art. My comment about hoping Liu plays after college is not a jab at him, but at those who don't get that making music is about far more than something to be checked off for college applications. As a trained musician, that superficial attitude toward music is deeply offensive.

One of the most painful things to me about Chua's book is how she destroyed her younger daughter's love of music--and her kids sound genuinely talented. Chua, on the other hand, seems to be tone-deaf on all sorts of levels. Was her approach necessary for her kids to become proficient? No. A little more independence would have meant not being able to brag about having "prodigies", but it would have meant both girls would have made music all their lives. I know kids who practice hours a day because they *want* to. In part, because they're old enough to make that kind of decision.

Aaron,

Yes, as I thought, you can't name the elementary-school equivalent of the Intel. You've got an agenda that you can't back up with facts.

Nothing about the global economy erases the need for a good car mechanic. However, one thing that Americans have needed for a while is flexibility. You can't train for one career, get a job at one company and expect it to carry you through retirement. Yes, people with Stanford and Harvard degrees can get laid off.

You're obviously anxious, but, equally obvious, you don't have a wide perspective. I personally know kids raised "permissively" by your standards who have gotten into Stanford and the Ivies and done very well there. I am also friends with faculty who've sat on admissions committees at top-tier schools.

Those schools want students who will stand out, not burn out. Because of that, they look to screen out kids who seem overly programmed by their parents. Top schools want independent, creative thinkers who will be future leaders. You don't become a leader by having mommy dictate your every move. Or, for that matter, being taught that any kind of failure (i.e. an A-) means mommy no longer loves you and you're garbage. If you can't face the thought of failure, you are pretty much guaranteed not to excel in the long run--i.e. once you're out of school.

You say the world needs worker bees. Okay, fine--but you don't need to go to an Ivy to be one of those. You can be a college-worthy student and future solid worker while having a social life and playing, say, the drums.

Meanwhile, I'm going to go congratulate a permissively raised young acquaintance of mine on the pre-offer offer he just got for a Stanford Ph.D. program.


Posted by Agree (but not with Aaron), a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2011 at 9:16 pm

'Yesterday's model won't work anymore, in a globally competitive society. The post-graduates, in the hard sciences, are now disproportionately those who have been raised in a structued and disciplined environment. Permissively-raised kids, if they can find a job, are learning to ask, "Would you like fries with your burger, sir?"

Sorry to disappoint you, Aaron, but my niece, raised by liberal, permissive parents, is a student at MIT; she started last fall and is doing very well. Things have not changed that much, Aaron. My niece is also very happy and knows that her family loves her unconditionally. She is not flipping burgers like you assume of kids of permissive parents.

"I have yet to meet a Palo Alto parent who aspires to have their kids become a mechanic. "

My parents did not decide what any of us would be. They just wanted us to be happy. Some of us found happiness by becoming professionals and pursuing degrees in what you consider the "right fields," such as medicine. But my brother chose to drop out of college and pursue other interests; he has never been ashamed to say that he dropped out of college and became a mechanic. We as a family are proud of my brother, the guy who made it big without a college education. Financially, he has done better than many who have college degrees from top universities, so go figure. Aaron, if you want to be successful, you must love what you do. You must also be willing to take risks - my brother, the not-college educated guy, is proof of that.


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 30, 2011 at 9:08 am

"My parents did not decide what any of us would be. They just wanted us to be happy."

Ah yes, the "just be happy" parents...those same parent are now not very happy with their not-very-happy adult kids living at home, with either no job, or a low-paying service job. I know a couple who got so tired of it that they just sold their house and moved to Arizona...leaving their lazy son out on the street (he got a service job about three months ago, and his friends are demanding that he actually pay rent).

"Yes, as I thought, you can't name the elementary-school equivalent of the Intel".

Of course not. But those kids coming into high school, with good math skills , and a focused dedication to completing a task, are the ones that end up winning the Intel type competitions. The really cool thing is they are also capable of playing a mean piano in the lobby of the hotels where they stay during the compeittions (and having a lot of fun doing it!).

"Those schools want students who will stand out, not burn out."

Your assumption is that well-trained and dedicated students will burn out at a rate higher than the permissives. Many permissives burn out on drugs and booze, then drop out...before they come back to eventually get a soft degree in 5-6 years. If Stanford is interested in these types of students, why does its EE department have so many hard working Asians?




Posted by Agree (but not with Aaron), a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2011 at 5:17 pm

"Ah yes, the "just be happy" parents...those same parent are now not very happy with their not-very-happy adult kids living at home, with either no job, or a low-paying service job. "

I fail to understand your comment, Aaron (which was a response to my comment about how my parents just wanted us to be happy). Like I said before, my brother is financially very well off, and he is definitely not living with mom and dad being a lazy son. He owns an awesome property, so the need to live with my parents is simply not there. He does not have a low-paying job (he is self-employed), just like my niece is not flipping burgers (she is a student at MIT). And both my brother and my niece were raised by permissive parents.

Permissive parents do raise successful individuals, and I truly believe that those individuals tend to be more resilient and know that things are not black and white, that there are many ways to achieve success.


Posted by Stay-at-home Mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Yawn. This is like debating abortion.

Obviously, neither extreme is the answer.

As long as a child feels loved, that's what fills their heart with confidence and peace. It seems Tiger Mom has accomplished that so she has done something right.

Appreciation, praise, and love is missing from parenting these days. One can be permissive or strict, but as long as the child feels appreciated by the parents, he/she will be fine. Children always want the approval and love from their parents.

I get so tired of seeing kids dumped off with a nanny or at daycare because the mom "has" to work, for mental, not financial purposes. Why even have children in the first place if you don't want to care for them?


Posted by Observer, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 31, 2011 at 12:36 pm

So much angst coming through. I think most here and Amy Chua are forgetting the role of the music in all this. Most people I know who were forced to learn piano or another instrument from a young age have all ended up high achievers. My family alone has 2 MDs and 2 PHDs maybe because of it. And guess what? We are not Chinese. I will add that you THE PARENT have to be VERY self-disciplined to get any kid from age four or five to learn and stick with an instrument through high school no matter if you use the carrot or the stick approach. Of course, that means missing out on a lot of those fluffy and self fulfilling aspects of life, say maybe cafe and bar hopping, outdoor recreation, sports, beach vacations, whatever how many chinese do you see enjoying those lifestyle events. I see none. They just don't seem like very happy people. They stick to themselves and are not very friendly as neighbors to boot. You can sense their competitiveness in schools and music classes. And God forbid they let their children interact with your non-Chinese. Just some personal observations. Nothing to lynch me over.


Posted by VoiceOfReason, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 8, 2011 at 10:35 am

Please stop talking about how successful the kids are, how unhappy they are, etc. That is not the point. The point is that the MOM feels she has been successful by raising a child who has high perfect SAT scores, plays 5 instruments, is in 25 clubs at school... It feeds MOM's ego to have people debate about this. My mother loved to point out my successes when I was younger. I was raised on the east coast where not as many mom's attended the top Ivy League schools so I HAD to be better and it was a necessary sign of HER superiority as a mother that I was achieving things that others were not and she felt compelled to make note of it to show HER superiority, not mine. But in this pocket of Silicon Valley, over-achievers are all OVER the place and to rise to the top of THIS bowl of crème de la crème means that the parent MUST be superior! Some kids are doing great all on their own. Others need help. Some get help. Some don't. The problem is not over-achieving kids. It's the motive behind the pressure of some parents. Is this any better than the mom's who go to all lengths to get their little girls into beauty pageants? I loved that superbowl commercial with the little boy dressed up as Darth Vader, trying to use the Force. So innocent and fun. But to see the interview with him and his mother following the success of the commercial made me sick. It was all about the mom and the boy is probably going to end up going through a lot of therapy someday as a result of all the pressure being put on him because the MOM wants to show HER superiority through what her little boy does... So sad.


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