Best Column

The Chinese mothers debate: They're the ones who are too 'soft'

The New York Times' David Brooks argues that it's Chinese parents like Amy Chua, not Western ones, who indulge their kids by depriving them of opportunities to master social skills

Yale law professor Amy Chua's controversial Wall Street Journal essay, "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior," continues to provoke debate. Many took issue with Chua's proud description of her child-rearing methods — no sleepovers, a boot-camp approach to piano practice — and her assertion that "Western parents" are doing their kids a disservice by being too coddling. But The New York Times' David Brooks says that it's Chua who is too "soft" and indulgent: "Practicing a piece of music for four hours requires focused attention, but it is nowhere near as cognitively demanding as [participating in] a sleepover with 14-year-old girls" and other "arduous" and important social situations kids need to master. Here, an excerpt:

Participating in a well-functioning group is really hard. It requires the ability to trust people outside your kinship circle, read intonations and moods, understand how the psychological pieces each person brings to the room can and cannot fit together.

This skill set is not taught formally, but it is imparted through arduous experiences. These are exactly the kinds of difficult experiences Chua shelters her children from by making them rush home to hit the homework table.

Chua would do better to see the classroom as a cognitive break from the truly arduous tests of childhood.

Read the entire story in The New York Times.

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