The Effective Parenting Approach: Amy Chua
Introduction with thesis statement
`Tiger` Parenting: the Chinese Culture
My Child, My Principles
Parental influence at an early age advantageous
Micromanaging could be counterproductive
Strict control has positive impact
Need for child independence:
The Effective Parenting Approach: Amy Chua
After the release of her book "Hymn of the Tiger Mother"in 2011, Amy Chua has been considered an authoritarian in the way shedescribes bringing up her two children, Sophia and Lulu. First, Chuaacknowledges that different cultures uphold different values and thatshe has no intention of compelling someone to follow her strictauthoritarian parenting style. She appreciates that the `Westernized`way of bringing up children is different from the Chinese way. Shedefends the way she brings up her children in a strict manner, notingthat most Chinese mothers feel the same way about not treatingchildren `softly.` Citing a study that involved fifty WesternAmerican mothers and forty-eight Chinese immigrant mothers, Chuanotes that 70 percent of the Western American mothers said thatstressing academic success is counterproductive for children and thatthe child needs to perceive learning as fun. This was contrary to the0% of Chinese immigrant mothers who felt that learning should bestressed to children, and that learning does not necessarily have tobe made fun (Chua 12). While the `Tiger` or Chinese parentingapproach is presented with its advantages and shortcomings, the`Westernized` approach too has its advantages and shortcomings. Thispaper reviews both approaches and establishes that the `Tiger`parenting approach best fits early-age parenting while theWesternized approach is best applicable in post-adolescenceparenting.
`Tiger` parenting is typically a Chinese culture. Chua is clear,from the first chapter of the book on what her children are allowedto do and what they are not allowed to, young as they still are.Sleepovers, school plays, getting grades less than an "A,"watching TV or playing computer games, playing any other instrumentapart from piano or violin, are some of the `don`ts` for herchildren. It is evident from Chua`s introduction of her first born,Sophia that the child has a passive personality and has excellentlearning abilities. Her tough parenting style and the rules she hasin place play a significant part in seeing Sophia go the way Chuawants her to. Her second child, however, Lulu, exhibits differentattributes. Hot-tempered, Chua has a hard time compelling to tow theline. Chua`s actions are neither extreme nor unwarranted. Given thatshe was herself brought up in a traditional Chinese family, Chua issimply inheriting her parents` ideology. Her actions are guided byher desire to see her children excel in life, just as she excelled inmany spheres of life: economically, health, and academically (being aYale professor). Chua narrates how her father treated her as a child.He never accepted Chua being second in any contest. She remembershow, as an eighth grader, her father scolded her for earning secondplace in a history contest. Her father categorically insisted thatshe had disgraced him for coming in second place. He wondered howsomeone else could win the Kiwanis prize for the best all-roundstudent (Chua 25). These were tough standards that Chua grew up with,the kind of standards she also wants her children to uphold andstrive to achieve. She knows that while such standards are quiteextreme for a young child, their results are success and prosperity,which she wants for her children. She looks up to herself, successfulas she is, as the potential role model for her children. To thisextent, Chua`s strict ways of parenting are justified and necessary.
Some scholars argue that the `Tiger` parenting approach goes againsthuman rights yet every parent has the right to influence their childas per the principles he or she sees fit to inculcate in their child.For instance, demanding that a child is to be no other position otherthan the first in anything he or she does presents a challenge to thechild to do her best, and she cannot disappoint. It is also a way ofexpressing love and confidence in the child`s ability to achieve.Chua notes that unlike Westerners, Chinese parents do not worry abouttheir children losing self-esteem. One day when Sophia disrespectsChua before her visitors, Chua insults Sofia immediately, and thisdoes not have any emotional impact on Sophia, noting that unlikeWestern parents who will coil around some topics due to fear ofdevastating the child, Chinese parents correct the child right on thespot (Chua 58).
Parental influence at an early age can have a positive impact on thechild`s future. Indeed, the Chinese parenting style described by Chuain her book is effective as it compels young children to study a lot.When a parent demands that the child comes at the top of the classand that such aspects as video games are restricted, it implies thechild has more time and motivation to learn. The parent is expectedto behave like the child`s `external co-regulator.` However, the factthat a child`s neural pathway is still developing means that thechild`s input largely influences their perception of the world and itshapes their reaction to different situations (Mesman, IJzendoorn,and Bakermans-Kranenburg 1). The child looks at the parent orcaregiver as an authority and effectively adapts the expectations ofsuch an adult as their brain architecture is still developing and islikely to absorb whatever stimuli it receives from the environment.The brain of children is still forming many neural connections.Between 700 and 1000 neural connections are formed second in thefirst few years of a child`s life (Hong and Park 449). Neuralconnections help to establish a stronger learning platform in thechild`s later life (NCSL 1). A child whose brain is adapted tocertain preset conditions and who knows what to expect and how tobehave will most likely perform better in academics and tend to befaster readers, faster math problem solvers, and have great musicskills.
From a Westernized approach, however, micromanaging a child`s lifethrough `Tiger` parenting could be counterproductive in the long-run.Past a certain age, however, authoritarian parenting becomescounterproductive. When children reach the adolescent age, they canno longer be compelled to do what they do not want. The child, bythen, has grown mentally and is associating with other children whoare also influencing his or her thought pattern. The child wants tochoose what to do in life, who to interact with, among otherdecisions. They want to exercise their freedom, and any attempt tocurtail the child will have adverse consequences including depressivetendencies, and poor social skills (Anwar 1). It is imperative that achild at such an age is allowed to interact freely with others.Children in teenage years do not accept the concept of being toldwhat to do and having extreme goals set for them by their parents.This is evident in Chua`s work when Chua`s younger daughter refusesto comply with instructions at a very young age, and this compelsChua to seek another option to parent her. Writing for BerkeleyUniversity`s Berkely News, Anwar (1) suggests that while a child maycope well and be respectful to the parent at a young age, the childchanges as he or she grows. Authoritarian parenting is oftenassociated with depressed and anxious children whose social skillsare poorer than those of non-authoritarian parents (Anwar 1). Whenthe parents set unreasonably high expectations for their children asis common in tiger parenting, such children eventually tend to havenegative cognitive effects with somewhat social ineptness.
Strict control can have positive impact on the children`s futurelives. Strictly controlling the child`s schedule creates a strongfoundation and shows the child right from birth, the value of beingorganized in life. Chua`s argument about the need to expect childrento behave in specified ways and to hold them to set standards makessense. Authoritarian parenting would most likely produce betterresults and will positively impact the child`s mental abilities. Chuaprovides an illustration of how her first born, Sophia and for sometime, her second born, Lulu, abide by her rules and grow up asabiding children. Authoritarian or the so-called `tiger motherparenting` is beneficial to a child in the younger years of life. Itlays a foundation for a responsible, confident, and successful childand adult. Chua`s two children ended up with extraordinary successboth in academic and musical circles, providing the requisiteevidence that such parenting can give the desired positive results.`Tiger` parents believe that children have the potential to be anyoneand to do anything they set their mind to. Such parents are motivatedby the need for children to excel in everything. Sometimes, a `Tiger`parent will not display or express their positive feelings towardstheir children even after doing well. This, according to Anwar (1) isas a result of the traditional Chinese culture where parentspreferred to `push` their children to work hard. `Tiger` parentsbelieve that children are like their report card and theirperformance in life is their direct responsibility. The role playedby early exposure to strict control is exhibited in the success ofChua`s daughters. Sophia and Lulu are respected at school and in theneighborhood, and other parents began asking what their parents`secret was (Chua 62). Sophia and Lulu were, in Chua`s words, `modelchildren` (Chua 62). Apart from being polite, interesting,well-spoken, and helpful in public places, they both were "A"students, and Sophia was well ahead of her classmates in math, by upto 2 years (Chua 63). Their classical music playing was fantastic. In2003, at the age of ten, Sophia won the Greater New Haven Concerto Competition, which entitled her to perform as a piano soloist at YaleUniversity`s Battell Chapel, along with the New Havens youthorchestra (Chua 64). Clearly, the parenting was good at the earlyage.
There is need for a child to learn to become independent at an earlyage. This pro-Western approach aims to empower the child so that theycan grow up responsibly and actively. The Western parent, as Chuaputs it, will respect their children`s individuality and willencourage the child to pursue their true passions. Such parents areready to support their children`s choices and will often provide apositive environment conducive for nurturing their talents. The`Tiger` parents also care about their children and offer protectionand support them, but when it comes to making choices, parentsdetermine what the child should do, what course to pursue, andgenerate tend to micromanage the child`s life (Chui 69). There is theneed to leave the management of the adolescent`s life into his or herown hands. The child should be supported in whatever course of actionhe or she seeks to pursue, just as Westerners do. New York Times`Maslin (1) criticizes Chua`s approach to parenting, noting that Chuaspecifically hired a nanny to teach her two girls Mandarin, althoughChua herself does not speak Mandarin. While Chua grew up as a RomanCatholic, she insists on her children being raised up as Jews (Maslin1). Chua`s screaming and scolding when supervising piano and violinsessions particularly towards Lulu, her younger daughter, sounds likeshe was compelling and forcefully demanding that Lulu does what sheis told, or else there will be repercussions. This style of handlingadolescents who will soon become adults can have a devastating impacton the children`s future life. One cannot be free to choose andpursue what he or she believes in but instead pursues a career basedon directives from a parent whose beliefs, desires, and expectationsdiffer greatly from those of the child. In this regard, the Westernparenting style is advantageous when the children have grown intoadolescents as this is a key stage when major decisions are to bemade, and futures are to be decided.
Chua`s family is successful, a success which she attributes to her`Tiger` parenting and her parents` determination and high-handedness.Chua`s children excel ina range of fields. Her assertion about the positive influence of`Tiger` parenting on children`s future life and the effectiveness ofsuch parenting in comparison to the Westernized approaches isexamined in this paper. It is clear, from Chua`s text `Battle HymnTiger Mother,` and from her illustrations, as well as from varioustexts outlined in this paper, that parenting should be planned out.`Tiger` parenting is best applicable from birth until when thechildren reach a certain age, probably adolescence. This is theperiod when children are growing and are in need of close guidance.They have to be told and `pushed` to do what is necessary for theirwell-being. To this extent, Chua`s theory applies. However,adolescents have their own needs which should be taken intoconsideration, without being micromanaged. The Westernized approachis, thus, most effective from adolescence till maturity.
Anwar, Yasmin. The verdict on tiger-parenting? Studies point topoor mental health. Berkeley News, UC Berkeley. 18 June,2013.
http://news.berkeley.edu/2013/06/18/chinese-parenting/. Accessed 12Dec. 2016
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Maslin, Janet. But Will It All Make `Tiger Mom` Happy? The NewYork Times. 19 Jan. 2011.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/20/books/20book.html. Accessed 12Dec. 2016.
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NCSL. The Science of early childhood development. 1-13.
http://www.ncsl.org/documents/cyf/InBriefSeries.pdf. Accessed 12Dec. 2012.