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Old 01-23-2011, 03:18 PM
Location: Wherever women are
19,022 posts, read 24,705,989 times
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Originally Posted by smokingGun View Post
I think your viewpoint is valid & many parents (especially Asian & Jewish moms) would concur. But just judging by the posts in this thread & talking to many of my friends who're professionals it's not the only strategy to attain success in your career, or for that fact, in your life.

Just as there are many parents who want to push their children into law, medicine or engineering (where GPA/ranking/test scores matter a lot), there's an equal number who would rather their children be less intellectually-focused, more well-rounded & take time to find their own path in life.

I think it really comes to down to how much your family values academic success or covets professional degrees. My gf's father is a multi-millionaire distributor of medical equipment and he dismisses anyone with a CPA, MBA or JD. He thinks that kind of schooling is a waste of time & money.

On the other hand, I get flack from my Indian cardiologist college buddy, who openly mocks anyone who doesn't have a post-grad degree from a named university (including me!). For him life is a race for status and the only way to assure success is through the fast track of traditional professions where you need to study & excel on every single test.
I agree with him. If he and I have an adult chat, we will be best friends. And this I say when I'm 30, in the midst of a career, trying to break myself off from the fold and try to make my own business and achieve something. Heck yeah, I'll see eye to eye with his opinions. I did one semester of MBA and dropped out myself, coz it was depressing and I felt like I was going through an idiotic program. I believed I had all that they teach inherently inborn in me.

On the other hand, this does not mean I need to apply this theory to my 10 year old when I'm supposed to be a diligent parent to get my kid through school. That would be disaster.

I get that Jobs, Gates, Ellison, Google founders and even Farmvilleberg don't have doctorates. But in the real world, the frequency of such visionaries happens to be 1/100,000 or probably less. If everyone can be them so easily, they will not exist in the first place
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Old 01-23-2011, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Antlered Chamataka View Post
What a self-defeating statement.

Let me tell you about competitive tests I used to take in my teens for entry into professional engineering schools. 100 questions, combined in math and physics. Two hours of time and thousands taking the test. Only 300 seats. If you have a bad time on that particular day, guess what, you're out. The rest go to the second grade engineering school, where Intel and IBM don't stop by for campus interviews in the final year.

That's how Asia works. That's how the world works. That's what is meant by competition. And how do the 300 that get in get in?? I practiced multiple choice questions for three years, and towards the end I went hardcore with clock timers and trying my best to finish all 100 within two hours, with scores of companies publishing test booklets. Only practice and parental inspiration and a little scary talk about a scary, competitive world does the trick. Having a bad day is not okay.

And what happens when every parent decides what is challenging and not challenging for their wards?? Do they have a cross-sectional map of the young one's brains?

When generals send their troops to war in a siege, do they pick some guys out and say, you can't fight like the other soldiers, so you can stay in the barracks, you may have a bad day????
Well, I have a masters degree in Mathematics and I worked for IBM back in the 70s as a systems engineer. I do very well on tests, but they mean very little in terms of learning *or* of getting jobs. I did well enough on the PSATS
and SATs back in the 60s (before the tests were renormed) to get a letter of commendation from the National Merit foundation. Also, you are NOT out if you mess up because you *can* retake these tests. I didn't, but kids do. Seriously, if a child is ill, they are not going to do their best.

Also, nowadays, you must be a team player whether you are an engineer or any other kind of professional. EQ is actually much more important than IQ.

As for the military, that is a different situation. Still, you will put men at risk if you send a sick soldier out to do battle too. That has nothing to do with passing the tests though. What the military does is to put people who are not physically able to fight or who can't pass the tests in other jobs rather than in the front lines, I suspect.

Edited to add - the SATS and ACTs are actually not the tests I worry about. Its the high stakes graduation tests that are being given now and the ones that are being used incorrectly to rate the k-12 schools and to determine funding for them.
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:46 PM
Location: Guangzhou, China
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My sister and I were talking about this last night over dinner.

My dad was career military up until he, like Ms. Chau (the "Tiger Mom") went to Yale for his master's and Harvard for his doctorate. He's from the South originally, and his father was a Southern Protestant preacher.

Can you imagine what happened when I stepped out of line, disobeyed, or - god forbid - did something "bad?"

And yet, my dad never called me a "failure," or "garbage," or "stupid." Looking back on it, I was very rarely if ever insulted, though my actions were in a quite lurid and generally shameful and humiliating fashion. At the time, I didn't necessarily realize the difference, but now, I do: I look back at my childhood and see that my father was mad at things I did, rather than specifically at me as a person... up until I was 13 and told him I thought Jesus was a load of crap, that is. Then, the kid gloves were off, and I did get to experience the difference between a disappointment of actions, and disappointment of the individual. We have a great relationship now, after some family couselling and some compromises on both ends, but the way that I was treated for the next five years did change much of the course of my early adult life.

From my totally-non PC my standpoint, you have a woman who is Asian-American who came to provenance in her profession during a time when there were fewer women, and fewer still nonwhite women going into that profession (law and the education thereof). These days, go to any law school campus in the US and plenty of the students there are Asian-American women - certainly enough that it's quite clear that most of the forces of prejudice that would have made it difficult in her time are largely dead.

Now, Ms. Chau is wed to a white, Jewish-American husband who also is a lawyer, also teaches at Yale, and also released a book (though his was fiction). She lives and breathes the Yale academic community, which - of course - now has many Asian and Indian students, but is still extremely "white." Again, my dad went to Yale: walking around campus a couple years ago, even though the student demographic is only half white, you are still tangibly in a "white" environment - specifically, a white, upper-class, mostly Northeastern environment. Old money. Bloodlines. Social norms that in no way, shape, or form seem to really be interested in the Asian-American diaspora.

Having had friends and exes who were quite similar to Ms. Chau in terms of upbringing (with an overbearing Asian immigrant parent) who then found themselves struggling to keep a cultural identity when they found themselves "at the top" and realized that their cultural identity wasn't exactly embraced when they got there, I'm sure that she is now frought with a degree of resentment at the situation. She most certainly has a competetive nature, or she would not be where she is. But that competetive nature seems to have gone off-course in her attitudes towards child-rearing.

It seems to me like she's built a complex - that one of my dear friends who is also Chinese-American and who is about to finish law school has - where she has reacted to what is a general indifference or even disdain for her ancestral culture by attributing her success to it. In doing so, she has done something that is quite parallel to modern Chinese thought: she has attributed the community as a whole for individual success, the latter of which is a distinctly American value.

Her children are half-white, born in America; Ms. Chau, too, was born in America. They live in America, in a distinctly American environment. Perhaps all this with her book is a reaction to what she feels is a loss of her cultural identity, one which is further encroached upon for her daughters? I wonder if, like my afore-mentioned Chinese-American friend who is also a woman attending law school, she almost bristles at the notion of being referred to as an "American," which is - quite irrevocably - what she is. It reminds me of a poem by Sandra Cisneros in which a Latin-American grandmother, who pushed her family to move to America, then desperately tried to prevent her granddaughter from speaking English, "the language that sounds like tin." Perhaps her insistance on being a Tiger Mom and how superior she is to the Soccer Mom is a way of engaging in an offensive defense, that she is saying that the majority is wrong, and she is right, and the reason that she knows that she is right is that she is the minority. Nyah-nyah.

I wonder how many of the white majority who have graduated from Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, etc. over the last ten or fifteen years had white American moms who drove minivans and shuttled them to and from soccer (or football or lacrosse or polo) practice? I'm familiar with the neighborhoods that Yale academics and their families live in and can guarantee you that for every one Tiger Mom, there are a few dozen soccer moms, and I find it highly unlikely that, with Yale academic parents and family legacy, many of them will go on to be junior college hopefuls with no future.

I realize that I never mentioned my paternal grandma. Incidentally, she was Asian. My father has absolutely zero Asian identity; aside from the occasional meal with chopsticks, he was raised as a white American from the South, and my grandmother figured herself one by proxy (she was raised in Chicago). She was reasonably well-integrated and respected for the era due to my grandfather's prominence in the community, from what I've heard; however, my dad has never, ever broached the issue of race and his childhood, which leads me to wonder. He latched on 100% to my grandfather's Swedish heritage, and I and my sisters have an identity that is best described as Swedish-American.

The argument, I suppose, could be made that much of my dad's success is due to his mother's way of raising him, which from what I've heard has many elements of Ms. Chau's ideals, except that he was pushed to be social, and this, in kind, is what led my dad to push me in academia, leading me to graduate high school at 16. Up until I graduated, I had been taking my art courses at the Art Institute of Boston and my English courses at my dad's alma mater, Harvard; Harvard Yard was two blocks from my high school. Its legacy could be why I've done quite well in my 27 years, and my younger sisters have in their times as well.

It also could be why, for all of our success as a family, we've all suffered from severe depression and the innate fear that we aren't doing enough, haven't done enough, and never will do enough (this is much less pronounced with us kids, but still there). I have no doubt that for all her posturing, Ms. Chau is in the same position as my dad.

I hope that her daughters can break the spell and go on as who they are rather than what their mom hopes them to be. From a follow-up article a few days ago where it's revealed that Ms. Chau has since softened her stance and her younger daughter is a bit more of a free spirit, it seems as though that is the case. Thank god.

My best advice to her (not that she'd be interested) is to write a followup: the one where the tiger mom chills the **** out and starts acting like a mother rather than a drill sargeant. After some time, my father stopped encouraging me to follow in his footsteps (church, Army or Navy, church, ivy league, church, accomplished academic career) and told me that I should focus on my art and writing... and that there was nothing wrong with me going to business school

Last edited by 415_s2k; 01-23-2011 at 11:03 PM..
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:55 PM
Location: Wherever women are
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I agree, I'm not a big fan of strict moms. Motherhood is a saintly virtue

It has to come from the Dad. Vice versa would have spoiled it for me.
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Old 01-24-2011, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Antlered Chamataka View Post

I'm glad the book is flying off the shelves, I'll be happy if the kids in this country are able to raise themselves and put a stiff competition to the Asians.
There are quite a few books along the lines of parenting with high expectations. Of the few I have read, mostly those focused on positive discipline, it seems that in order to parent this way (chances are the reader does not already do so), the reader must do something besides following the methods in the book. The reader must discipline themselves or raise themselves, which has implications far beyond raising a responsible child. I only know of one author who warned that it would be difficult to become a parent with a backbone if the reader was not raised in a family with a backbone.

For a while I noticed that my daughter was allowed to behave anyway. Yes, there may have been thoughts of letting her continue for fear of alienation. However, what was not in my thoughts was what was most likely happening. It was not that I had low expectations for my daughter. I had low expectations for myself, something I brought to the parenting table from my own upbringing. I noticed that I applied this attitude to almost all choices I made. I find that to be a self-defeating attitude.

ETA: The point is that parents should have high expectations for their children, not in order to compete with Asians or to pursue a position of leadership (not all can be a leader in a given industry). I do it so that my daughter does not have a self-defeating attitude, which may result in poor education, poor workmanship, and poor relationships all by her doing.

Last edited by crisan; 01-24-2011 at 07:35 AM..
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Old 01-30-2011, 10:22 AM
Location: Turn Left at Greenland
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reading all the mea culpa-ing Amy Chua is doing in the media now is rather amusing. She says people are reading too much into what she's written and what she is saying ... hmmmm ... well, I don't know Ms. Chua, there's not a whole lot of gray area when you call your kid "garbage" for getting an A-. Denying your kid bathroom breaks or food over a stupid piece of piano music is insane!

One of my daughter's best friends, who lives around the corner from us, isn't allowed outside and has already told her that she can't come to my daughter's birthday party in May because she didn't get into the gifted/talented class in 5th grade. Sigh. She is allowed to swim, however and when she sees me, I can't get her to stop talking because she needs someone to listen to her.

In any event. Hey, to each his or her own. Ms. Chua didn't break any child abuse laws. Her kids seem to be ok, but then again, they only get praise for performing, this is how they were trained, so this is all they know. It will be interesting to see if they can find partners in life who are willing to be submissive like their own father. It will also be interesting to see how these girls do on their own, if they can make their own decisions in life without consulting their mom for approval.

I'll just keep sauntering along as the first generation victim ... er child of a post WWII German mother. I kid because I love.
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Old 01-31-2011, 03:37 AM
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Fascinating article, thanks for pointing it out. I do think this style of parenting can put a ton of pressure on kids, which is not always to their long-term benefit. That said, lots of parents are too loose with their kids, and a little performance pressure can be very motivational and good for growth.

One key thing that everyone can agree on is that that "virtuous circle" of confidence is a good thing. If I look at my life, personally, a lot of good things happened from linking into that circle, though from something that was my personal passion rather than anything that my parents did or encouraged. If their is one gift a parent can give their kids, it is to start this circle going with achieving excellence in something - it probably doesn't matter very much what. The trick is doing it without distorting a normal, natural and free life too much.

This seems to be a parenting method designed to create high-performing, successful kids... it makes me wonder what a parenting method designed to create happy kids would look like?
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Old 01-31-2011, 09:28 AM
Location: Geneva, IL
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Here is the article from Time:

Tiger-Mom War Over Chinese Parenting Reflects U.S. Anxiety - TIME
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Old 01-31-2011, 09:52 AM
Location: State of Being
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If children are to succeed, ANY parental involvement helps! But it is the kids who are living in hellatious conditions, w/ no role models and surrounded by people w/ no motivation and entitlement attitudes (someone "owes" me my rent, food, education and medical care) . . . that is where the biggest bulk of education dollars go. Yet no one discusses it and how this has created a mediocre educational system in this country.

So I would say . . . whatever a parent's style might be - overly strict or "be happy" - at least the parents are INVOLVED. The parents we should be discussing are the ones who are populating the earth w/ kids who have very little chance of succeeding in life b/c their parents are disengaged - or absent. Our country is full of kids who have no chance of living a fulfilling life b/c their parents didn't bother to create any kind of structure for them from birth. I see this firsthand where I live b/c of volunteer work with the court system.

Although I am certainly no expert on China . . . I bet they don't encourage single parenthood by subsidizing it with government dollars, lol.

Success in school - and then later in life - starts at home. It is a terrible roadblock when children have to overcome the dysfunction created by irresponsible parents. Our society is pretty screwed up to allow such situations to even exist. No child should be left behind, but it is hard to make up for that when the parents have essentially left the kids behind from birth.

The best way to assure that you have happy, well-adjusted children is to provide them with a stable environment, regardless of your parenting style. It doesn't take wealth or even extracurricular activities to create high functioning adults, but it does take enaged parenting - regardless of how strict or permissive that style might be.

Teaching your children how to problem-solve, how to handle stress, how to be organized with time management, how to set goals - these abilities do not require any more (or less!) than responsible, engaged parents. Each family has to find its own balance . . . no book can provide guidelines that work for everyone.
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Old 01-31-2011, 09:57 AM
Location: Austin, TX!!!!
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All of these articles are just some journalist's hypothesis. I read it, but I really don't think that just because there are many who object to calling one's offspring "garbage" or threatening to burn their stuffed animals, that means they are "anxious" or a helicopter parents. There is a happy medium in there somewhere. I think it is completely possible to discipline your children, set high standards for them, make them follow through on things they have started, and limit their screen time without resorting to name calling and threats of destroying their toys, especially their stuffed animals, which seven year olds tend to be really attached to.

I also think what helped set off of the firestorm was WSJ's poor choice of the headline. It implied that her way is the best way and it somehow connected to race and culture rather than a parent's individual parenting preference.
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