Yale law professor Amy Chua has opened a new front in the parenting wars, arguing in The Wall Street Journal that strict Chinese mothers raise more-successful children than coddling Western parents. Chua says frankly that she barred her two daughters from attending sleepovers, having play dates, watching TV, or choosing their own extracurricular activities—requiring them to practice violin and piano instead. Does such disciplined parenting build self-esteem by teaching kids what they can achieve with hard work, or does it damage them psychologically?
It is hard to argue with success: "If the goal is efficiency, excellence, and success," says Henry Blodget in Business Insider, it would appear that Chua and other Chinese and Chinese-American mothers have "most American mothers beat." Relative to their Chinese counterparts, Western parents have become "unbelievably soft and flaky and indulgent," notes Blodget. "It's not hard to extrapolate... a future world in which China wins and Americans dream of glory days when we were hungry, committed, and self-disciplined, too."
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Successful parents do not trample their kids' happiness: The cultural stereotyping in this article is over-the-top—and that's the least of its problems, says Mike Vilensky in New York. There are "downsides of telling children what they can and cannot do or be"—it's hard to imagine a dictatorial mom like Chua raising a Bill Gates or a Mark Zuckerberg. And what about the kids' happiness? "Children with these sorts of parents often grow up to hate them."
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Time will tell how Chua's parenting worked: One wants to ask Chua: "What makes you so sure you've succeeded?" says Tom Scocca in Slate. Her daughters are evidently accomplished musicians, which probably does have a lot to do with the way she screamed at them, made them do "drill work," and deprived them of entertainment and social contact. But the girls are still young. It's too early to know "what fruit all those years of rigorous 'Chinese' alpha parenting" will really bear.
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