This was published about a week ago and I’ve been pondering it since. After careful consideration, I’ve decided it’s mostly rubbish.
A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:
• attend a sleepover
• have a playdate
• be in a school play
• complain about not being in a school play
• watch TV or play computer games
• choose their own extracurricular activities
• get any grade less than an A
• not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
• play any instrument other than the piano or violin
• not play the piano or violin.
A bit of background here. Amy Chua, the author of the piece, is a Professor of Law at Yale. Her daughters are highly successful, being musical prodigies and excelling academically. The article claims that this is a result of parenting that was obsessive, almost abusive, doing such things as calling her daughters “garbage” and threatening to burn her daughter’s stuffed animals if she didn’t learn a difficult piano piece. The article contrasts these methods against “western methods” that are more laid-back.
Chua is now backing away from her comments, claiming the WSJ only published the most extreme excerpts of her book, that she had a great relationship with her daughters, that much of the quoted article was tongue-in-cheek, etc., etc. I’m assuming that the WSJ article would not have run without her approval. If it was taken out of context, it was done so on purpose to provoke book sales.
Still, the general point about parenting is being discussed everywhere. Did her strict parenting make her children successful?