Jane's Mental Health Source Page

One of the Web's Oldest Personal Mental Health Sites [Est. 1998]

Was Amy Chua Right about Parenting? My Answer.


Amy Chua is right about this form of parenting when you want to create a society that:

1) considers physical, mental, and emotional coercion as the only form of gaining compliance from a human being

2) considers outward success based on a standard of “winning” and “better than” as the only form of success

3) considers parents as owners – not stewards – of children

4) considers parents’ “face” and “pride” and “ego” as synonymous with love for their own children

5) believes in “the end justifies the means”

6) believes that human beings experience contentment, satisfaction, and fulfillment the exact same way

7) thinks it’s perfectly normal and even smart to use broad, sensationalizing, sweeping, controversial generalizations and stereotypes to hawk one’s book, and once she’s gotten the media attention, to claim that her book was meant to talk about HER own growth as a parent, and ignore the fact that her WSJ article was neither apologetic nor satiric in nature.

Conclusion: I don’t need to debate whether HER method of parenting makes sense – many readers in this thread already have.

I am looking at the type of parenting that results in the likes of Amy Chua, and I see this as an abject failure of Chua’s parents’ parenting methods. They’ve produced an offspring who is outwardly successful, incredibly shrewd, and has learned to manipulate human emotions for self gain.

Lao Tzu’s philosophy has endured and will continue to endure hundreds of years beyond when people will have long forgotten any sensationalist “parenting memoirs”. We can look at his philosophy about leadership and apply it to parenting, and see Chinese Parents as they truly aspire to be:

Lao Tzu on the “Best” leaders:
“The Leader is best,
When people are hardly aware of his existence,
Not so good when people praise his government,
Less good when people stand in fear,
Worst, when people are contemptuous.
Fail to honor people, and they will fail to honor you.
But of a good leader, who speaks little
When his work is done, his aim fulfilled,
The people say, ‘We did it ourselves.'”

If I, a Chinese parent, were to apply this to being the “Best” parent I can be:
“The Parent is best,
When children are hardly aware of her existence,
Not so good when children praise her dominance,
Less good when children stand in fear,
Worst, when children are contemptuous.
Fail to honor children, and they will fail to honor you.
But of a good parent, who speaks little
When her work is done, her aim fulfilled,
The children say, ‘We did it ourselves.'”

This is the kind of Chinese parent I want to be.
I only hope that I am self-aware enough to approximate this ideal.

Written by Jane Chin

January 15th, 2011 at 9:12 am