Were Your Malayalee Parents Chinese Mothers?

Back in January, there was a huge buzz over Amy Chua and her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Using the phrases “Western parenting” and “Chinese parenting” loosely, a few examples of her thoughts are below.

Western vs. Chinese parenting on piano practice:

All the same, even when Western parents think they’re being strict, they usually don’t come close to being Chinese mothers. For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments 30 minutes every day. An hour at most. For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part. It’s hours two and three that get tough…

Western vs. Chinese parenting on grades:

For example, if a child comes home with an A-minus on a test, a Western parent will most likely praise the child. The Chinese mother will gasp in horror and ask what went wrong. If the child comes home with a B on the test, some Western parents will still praise the child. Other Western parents will sit their child down and express disapproval, but they will be careful not to make their child feel inadequate or insecure, and they will not call their child “stupid,” “worthless” or “a disgrace”…

If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A.

Personally, my parents encouraged me to do well in school but never forced anything down my throat, called me names or tore their hair out over a B. On the other hand they didn’t in “Western” fashion try to be gentle to protect my self-esteem. They were in a whole other category of “Handle your business; I’ll help if you need it; make good decisions.”

The whole Asians+Math equation wasn’t part of my household either. I just studied math like anyone else.

Anyway, keep in mind that Amy Chua’s book is really about how she employed super strict techniques and had a child play at Carnegie Hall, but at the end, a child rebelled, things unraveled, and Chua realized the ridiculousness of many of her actions. There is no right answer here! You can take a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

What about your parents? Did they raise you Western-style, Chinese-style or their own unique style?

Image Credit: http://www.amazon.com/Battle-Hymn-Tiger-Mother-Chua/dp/1594202842

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