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Found this in the WSJ. It's a rebuttal to the Chinese mother article that appeared in the journal a week ago. Interesting read.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB100014240527487033...

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Comments (29)

  • Guest1655's picture

    meh.. id rather do the chinese one

  • APAE's picture

    That was actually far more powerful a read in my opinion. I see the product of the Tiger Mother around me every day. Academically brilliant kids who excel in any quantitative class but abjectly fail in anything that requires anything other than rote memorization or repetition. Kids who are socially inept and devoid of real-world life skills. Kids who no one wants to be around except other kids exactly like them.

    To me, that's poor parenting. Parenting is about raising your kids to succeed in life. There's far more to life than exams, tests, and grades, and if you can't nurture a child's personality to give them the framework of basic interpersonal skills to build the quantitative, academic skills on top of, you're doing the exact opposite of what you hope to. You are releasing progeny ill-suited to cope with a world outside of the classroom. And I cannot believe how long this continues, you'd expect kids coming out of this background to recognize and do something to change the way they live their lives. I don't blame them though. I blame the pattern they're molded in.

    Most people do things to add days to their life. I do things to add life to my days.

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  • econ's picture

    A Posse Ad Esse has some good points. I wish I could find this article I read a few years ago, where the author made the case that American "education" (and I use the word education broadly here, not limiting it to school, but also including life experience, friends, parents, etc.) doesn't produce the best test scores, but it seems to train people to succeed in the business world better (due to better soft skills, people skills, creativity, intuition, independent thinking, etc). Now, I don't know whether the author was right, but I will say that I don't think training your kids to be great students and playing the piano is a clear path to a successful life. In grad school, a huge chunk of the students are from China, and they absolutely kill it on the coursework. Seriously, they get solid grades in every class and all of them pass both qualifying exams on the first try (a ridiculous feat, to say the least). What's funny though, is that they don't necessarily go on to do good research. Even more importantly, most of them don't seem like they could be that successful in a lot of regular jobs. They can absolutely murder any coursework you throw their way, but so what? Life is not about sitting around taking exams in classes. I'm not down-playing school, just trying to point out that it's far from the be-all-end-all of success.

  • TNA's picture

    Here is the issue. If you are a poor Chinese person and you are trying to raise your standard of living, the "chill" way of life that is advocated in this rebuttal isn't going to do it. I really think this desire the Chinese mother has for her children to succeed is a very fresh memory of what it was like to live in utter poverty.

    Also, this rebuttal was pretty weak. Being your kids friend and letting them do as they want is fine as long as you are wealthy enough to pay for them for a long time. Go real a book called Failure to Launch and you will know what I am talking about.

  • illiniPride's picture

    Econ, your post echos my thoughts exactly. SB for you.

    A Chinese kid who has one of these "tiger mothers" have been told what to do their entire life. That attitude might end up making you a good employee but not a leader.

    Leadership can be defined in two words: "Follow Me"

  • CharmWithSubstance's picture

    Agree with you ANT. The rebuttal was weak - she made no actual arguments and gave ONE example of her own child who is obviously in the minority by coming to her own senses and deciding to not give up. I guarantee 95% of kids in this situation would not do the same. And she made no connection on how the behavior of her own child can be replicated.

    I think the sole focus on academics by Asian parents is overrated, but at the same time it's important that kids know the importance of discipline and drive, and for them to hold high expectations of themselves. It doesn't always have to be getting A's in school - it can be excelling in sports, OR the school play, or being socially competent, etc. But where the current Western way falls short is a lack of responsibility to develop that - there will always be kids that excel on their own - unfortunately the majority will not.

  • monkeysama's picture

    I don't mind the want for high achievement, but strong positive reinforcement can go a long way. My parent's attitude was that they wanted me to treat high school as a full time job, so they paid me for high marks. It seems silly, but it was great encouragement and it involved a lot less of them calling me 'garbage'.

  • TNA's picture

    Yeah, I think the Chinese mother operates based on fear more than anything. It might work for Machiavelli, but I don't know if the parent-child relationship should be predicated on terror.

    There should be discipline, but it should be more of a mentorship. A positive, guiding force.

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  • happypantsmcgee's picture

    Parenting = Angel's Heart, Devil's Hand...gotta be a balance of both

    If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

  • Kanon's picture

    ^ Agreed. Things she didn't allow her children to partake in (sports & drama) are actually very beneficial to developing a kid's confidence, leadership and social skills which go a far way in the long-term. That said, I do agree with some things she said (where Western parents' potential over concern for hurting kids' self-esteem can also prevent them from challenging their capabilities/boundaries... like patronizing the kid 'oh you got a B-, that's pretty good...' when you know they aren't really trying).

  • alexpasch's picture

    My mother was/is a great balance of both. A's were always expected, but she didn't have to force us to work hard; we did it ourselves because she ingrained it in us how important being intelligent is. At the same time, we were encouraged to have friends, do extracurriculars (and could quit if we hated them, but only after a decently long period of complaining), etc. For example, when I was little I played piano, then in middle school I played viola, and then in high school I played guitar (electric mostly); and I am very, very good at guitar now, because it's something I actually like and thus practiced for hours every day without anyone having to force me to (and let's face it, playing John Mayer to a chick will instantly get you laid; Mozart, not so much).

    I may not be a crazy quant genius, but I'm not too far off; and my social skills allow me to lead a very happy life, i.e. tons of friends, fuck buddies, gf's, etc. Social skills are also important for work, but I didn't develop them for work (and I can't think of anything sadder than someone who is so work-obsessed that the only reason they would pursue social skills is for work purposes).

    Consultant to a Fortune 50 Company

  • In reply to Kanon
    econ's picture

    Kanon:
    I do agree with some things she said (where Western parents' potential over concern for hurting kids' self-esteem can also prevent them from challenging their capabilities/boundaries... like patronizing the kid 'oh you got a B-, that's pretty good...' when you know they aren't really trying).

    I still need to read the original one (from the Chinese mother) but I'm guessing she makes some good points too. A nice combination of both is probably optimal, given they both have their pros and cons.

  • In reply to TNA
    meph's picture

    ANT:
    Also, this rebuttal was pretty weak. Being your kids friend and letting them do as they want is fine as long as you are wealthy enough to pay for them for a long time. Go real a book called Failure to Launch and you will know what I am talking about.

    I think that's more a product of the style of writing. The Chinese Mothers article was written with a pretty absolute tone, and I think she was just trying to replicate that. I seriously doubt she's such great friends with their kids. My parents raised me pretty similarly, in that they'd definitely steer me towards what they knew was best for me, but wouldn't smother me about it. I remember trying to convince my parents during middle school that B's were "satisfactory" and thus okay, and while they sternly told me I was wrong, didn't scream at me or punish me for that. I eventually learned for myself that I wanted better than B's.

    A Posse Ad Esse:
    That was actually far more powerful a read in my opinion. I see the product of the Tiger Mother around me every day. Academically brilliant kids who excel in any quantitative class but abjectly fail in anything that requires anything other than rote memorization or repetition. Kids who are socially inept and devoid of real-world life skills. Kids who no one wants to be around except other kids exactly like them.

    I couldn't agree more, this is virtually exactly what I said a few days ago when discussing this article with a friend, though admittedly less eloquently than you... haha. I really feel that after a few years out of school your 4.0 and accomplishments playing the violin are nothing more than an "oh that's cool" sort of conversation piece. When you're 30 years old and trying to find a job, your employer likely won't care that your 4.0 is from Harvard and you've been on stage performing with whomever, they're going to care that you're socially and intellectually capable of doing your job... which the stifling style of parenting just doesn't accomplish.

    Everyone sees the asian kid at college with the 4.0 who couldn't hold a conversation about anything but a partial derivative if his life depended on it...

  • IamObama's picture

    I am indian, and my parents didnt drill me when I was young. They wanted me to be happy when I was young but at the very least made sure I didn't drop out of school. They didnt care if I went to med school, hell they didn't care what I do as long as it wasn't drugs and I was happy. I was 17 in junior year of high school when my parents moved back to India because they couldn't afford living here anymore. I didn't want to go so we kept the apartment we rented, I got a job to pay my bills and my parents sent more money every month from India. At the point I had a 2.0 GPA in high school, and no future in sight. I got my act together, took the sats, went to a really shit no name university for one year and got a 3.5 GPA; transferred to a semi target state school where I currently have a 3.4 as a junior and after busting my ass off networking I have 2 interviews at BB and 1 at an inter dealer broker for summer analyst positions with 20 OCR applications pending since the deadline was just friday.

    So what got me motivated? It wasn't my mom drilling me, but the experience I had when reality hit me and I saw I have no future in sight. I was determined not to work a shitty job at gap or a&f the rest of my life and I turned my shit around by my self.

    My point being, the chinese mother is overdone and overrated. If my mother drilled me when I was younger I would probably have committed suicide when I was younger. You don't need to drill As in a kid for them to be successful, you just have to give them direction which both Chinese and western mothers don't do

  • In reply to meph
    Antsman's picture

    A Posse Ad Esse:
    That was actually far more powerful a read in my opinion. I see the product of the Tiger Mother around me every day. Academically brilliant kids who excel in any quantitative class but abjectly fail in anything that requires anything other than rote memorization or repetition. Kids who are socially inept and devoid of real-world life skills. Kids who no one wants to be around except other kids exactly like them.

    I couldn't agree more, this is virtually exactly what I said a few days ago when discussing this article with a friend, though admittedly less eloquently than you... haha. I really feel that after a few years out of school your 4.0 and accomplishments playing the violin are nothing more than an "oh that's cool" sort of conversation piece. When you're 30 years old and trying to find a job, your employer likely won't care that your 4.0 is from Harvard and you've been on stage performing with whomever, they're going to care that you're socially and intellectually capable of doing your job... which the stifling style of parenting just doesn't accomplish.

    Everyone sees the asian kid at college with the 4.0 who couldn't hold a conversation about anything but a partial derivative if his life depended on it...[/quote]

    I absolutely agree. I see too many of these kids at school who have a 4.0, but are lacking the necessary soft skills to lead anyone in the real world, much less have a normal conversation.

  • D M's picture

    I strongly believe in guiding children as opposed to over-structuring their lives. I, for one, had fairly strict parents and rebelled against them for about 15 years. If they had let me do the things I wanted (more or less), I'm pretty sure I would have turned out fine, if not better, than I am right now.

    Whenever I think of overly strict parents, I remember the saying that goes something like "the harder you squeeze, the more they'll slip from your grasp."

    "You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
    "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

  • loki276's picture

    Way I see it if you succeed all the time its no fun but if you lose a couple of times it makes the wins so much better. Also what's the point in just getting straight A's in college etc if you don't ever get a chance to enjoy life?

  • In reply to APAE
    jim_beam's picture

    A Posse Ad Esse:
    That was actually far more powerful a read in my opinion. I see the product of the Tiger Mother around me every day. Academically brilliant kids who excel in any quantitative class but abjectly fail in anything that requires anything other than rote memorization or repetition.

    lol @Anonymous Monkeyexcel in any quantitative class BUT abjectly fail in anything that requires anything other than rote memorization or repetition"...fyi, if you've every taken anything beyond calc 1 or pre calc in college, you'll know this is not the case...liberal arts major?

  • God of the Orient's picture

    Such a pointless article.... There are a bunch of western mothers who are strict, and visa versa.. the whole racial thing is a B.S.

  • In reply to jim_beam
    econ's picture

    jim_beam:
    A Posse Ad Esse:
    That was actually far more powerful a read in my opinion. I see the product of the Tiger Mother around me every day. Academically brilliant kids who excel in any quantitative class but abjectly fail in anything that requires anything other than rote memorization or repetition.

    lol @Anonymous Monkeyexcel in any quantitative class BUT abjectly fail in anything that requires anything other than rote memorization or repetition"...fyi, if you've every taken anything beyond calc 1 or pre calc in college, you'll know this is not the case...liberal arts major?

    I'm confused with exactly what you're saying jim_beam. Are you denying that Asian kids tend to excel at quantitative subjects? Or are you just disagreeing with how he's making it sound like math requires rote memorization and repetition?

  • In reply to mehp
    econ's picture

    mehp:
    why the hell is everyone stealing my monkey pic god damnit I had it first

    Pity SB for you. (Especially, because I love your avatar.)

  • In reply to TNA
    Saccard's picture

    ANT:
    Here is the issue. If you are a poor Chinese person and you are trying to raise your standard of living, the "chill" way of life that is advocated in this rebuttal isn't going to do it. I really think this desire the Chinese mother has for her children to succeed is a very fresh memory of what it was like to live in utter poverty.

    Also, this rebuttal was pretty weak. Being your kids friend and letting them do as they want is fine as long as you are wealthy enough to pay for them for a long time. Go real a book called Failure to Launch and you will know what I am talking about.

    OK Anthony I didn't read the rebuttal but I would say that you must treat mothers equal- ie you can't just say that Chinese parenting is the result of their situation. Although I have heard that the article was taken somewhat out of context, the gist of it argues that Chinese parenting is "better" than Western parenting, all else equal. These Chinese parents are not poor because they can afford piano and violin-also they don't allow playdates and involvement in extracurriculars (in which socioeconomic status should have no effect, unless the children must work on a field after school). Anyway, it is clear that the initial article is very black and white and does not take into account different ethnicitie's model for parenting. If that parenting method was ubiquitous in our great country, Americans would all be robots.

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  • In reply to Argonaut
    APAE's picture

    Most people do things to add days to their life. I do things to add life to my days.

    Browse my blog as a WSO contributing author