Remember sleepovers? Playing hide and seek with your friends? Learning to play the guitar? Well that’s why you’re a deadbeat today. At least, that’s according to Yale Law Professor and Chinese mother Amy Chua, who argues in her much talked about new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, that strict, uncompromising values and discipline are what make Chinese parents and their children superior achievers. Not surprisingly, that thesis has roiled parents’ groups and book clubs across the country. Sprinkled with anecdotes like the one about the time she rejected her daughter’s hastily hand-drawn birthday card or when she threatened to burn her daughter’s stuffed animals unless she returned to the piano to practice, Chua’s opus unabashedly takes tough love to the extreme. She argues against tenets of “western parenting”—parents coddling their children’s individualism; worrying about their self-esteem; and supporting their choices. What is the best way to prepare children for the future in a “me generation?” And does Chua’s examination of what she calls the “Chinese parenting model” dare to speak a parenting truth or simply reinforce old stereotypes?
Wendy Grolnick, professor of psychology at Clark University and author of Pressured Parents