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Why Chinese Mothers are Not Superior (from a female Chinese engineer) (jeanhsu.com)
262 points by cristinacordova 2477 days ago | hide | past | web | 201 comments | favorite

A friend of mine, a mother of a gifted 5th grader wrestling with similar issues of parental control as Amy Chua, shared the WSJ article with me today. It reminded me of something Steven Pinker writes about in one of his books. In his book, he breaks down the work of Judith Rich Harris (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Rich_Harris) to this formula:

Genes have 50% influence over a child's development, peers 40%-50%, parents the rest.

Harris's work is strongly disputed, yes. But Chua's article seems to strangely confirm it.

By micromanaging her children's social interactions in a number of different ways, she wrests back a significant measure of influence back from their potential peers. I told my friend to note Chua's list of things she never lets her kids do:

• attend a sleepover

• have a playdate

• be in a school play

• complain about not being in a school play

• watch TV or play computer games

• choose their own extracurricular activities

Notice these are all activities that would potentially expand the influence of her kids' peers and undermine her totalitarian regime.

Chua probably believes that its her strictness and strong principles that are leading her children to excel. And these have their role, no doubt. But I would propose, following Harris, it is her oppressive control of their social lives which is the much stronger factor.

An interesting extension of her social experiment will be when it's time for her kids to go to college (the photo accompanying the article indicated they haven't quite got there yet.) Sure, they'll probably go to an Ivy League school, maybe even Yale where their mother is a professor, so it won't be complete culture shock.

Nevertheless: do her kids find peers who sustain their carefully disciplined social lives? Does mom continue to try to control their lives at a distance? Do they thrive with additional freedom? Or do they crack under it?

*Edited for formatting and spelling.

One additional observation. I shared this with article with my Chinese girlfriend. This is what she texted me in response:

I love the article. This is why we fight. I am your Chinese parent and call you "stupid" when I want to show you that I believe you can do better. When you tell me to "do whatever makes me happy," I feel you are being irresponsible because I can't control myself!

I guess we fail at being each other's parents. :)

That's a lot like how abuse works: cut off from any social reality outside the abuser's, you come to think you deserve it; being abused becomes normal.

Reading that WSJ article made me angry, because it's obvious that's what she's trying to do. She wants something from her daughter (probably doesn't even herself know what), is abusing her until she gets it, and cutting her daughter off from any outside support so she'll put up with it.

She said that she gives praise and affection only as a reward for getting good grades. Of course that works; the motivation to do anything to get love from your parents is incredible.

One of my friends (who happens to be Chinese and was raised in a home like this) remarked, "but look at the kids! See their smiles? It can't possibly be abuse!"

I replied, "have you ever seen pictures of the smiling performers in a North Korea propaganda play?" Of course they are smiling.

1) They don't know anything else, so when they do things that bring them positive reinforcement, they show happiness (most people prefer to be happy than sad, so they work for those goals)

2) If they showed unhappiness, it would probably be considered a bad attitude and pushed into a feedback loop of negative reinforcement, wanting to stay out of that loop can make many people smile...habitually

Evidence: There are dozens of videos on youtube showing North Korean children playing virtuoso Guitar or Xylophone or whatever smiling their fool heads off. And there's not really a way for anybody to claim they have a fantastic, fulfilled and successful life.

A thousand times this. Not only do abused people not know any better, they're actively prevented from knowing any better. It's how abuse works.

It's especially terrible when parents do it, because children are naturally, genetically predisposed to try to seek approval from their parents. If they can't get it, or if it's contingent on something as arbitrary and pointless as playing a piano, it will destroy them for life.

I'm not a parent, and after my childhood I didn't think I'd ever want to be, but reading that article gave me new hope for myself: if anyone tried to do to my hypothetical children what the author is doing to hers, I would kill them. Instantly and brutally. That's got to be some kind of a qualification.

(My parents are from Taiwan, they came to the states for grad school, I was born in the US)

To reply to your last statement: Some of the families that we know continue to discipline their children during college. In the case that they only have a single child, that means the family picks up and moves to the college town of choice. I would be curious to know how these kids fare in the workplace after college.

On the other hand, I have seen other families who have treated their children with strictness (where the parents were themselves teachers/professors), have their kids rebel against them in college. Their personalities did a complete 180 as they were suddenly relieved of the harsh treatment, which often landed them into trouble.

I am one of those kids who was pushed into piano at age 4. I'm not going to lie - I hated playing for maybe the first 3 or 4 years. My dad would sit with me and force me to practice over and over again. But one day, something clicked, and to this day I have a greater appreciation of music than any of my peers, and I also have a love of music that can only come from myself. I didn't need my dad to force me to practice - I wanted to.

I think that my parents eventually switched tactics during my childhood (for better or for worse) after they were convinced that I would choose a path for myself that wasn't detrimental. I'm thankful for that - I find that I have pursued a lot more hobbies on my own and experienced things that didn't fit the asian mentality.

Parents have a mere 0-10% influence over a child's development? Clear delusion there, farcical right on the face of it.

One wonders if you get any social development done at all before you significantly interact with a peer group using that formula. Here's a simple example: language. Pretty much everyone learns the basics of language from their parents before they toddle off to anything representing a peer group. Genes don't give you language. Is there a gene for French? What about English with a Mancunian accent? Apparently the ability to talk and what that conveys is somewhere between 0-10% of your development. Not to mention dozens of traits that are formed from the people you interact with daily for a couple of decades.

This range of numbers is simply the result of someone who has a hobby horse and has plucked figures out of the air to reinforce it.

Pinker puts the number around 10% as I remember. And, yes, he's aware of all the qualifications that attend such a crude number.

The ability to talk is obviously a significant trait. But it is not an extraordinary one. Everybody uses language in some form (a subject in which Pinker is strongly versed.) What language you speak is decidedly less significant and something most parents don't get to choose. I'd be surprised if the differential impact among parents on this point was even 1%. Most kids don't end up speaking like their parents. They end up speaking like their peers.

Dropping a kid on her head or locking her in a closet for her teenage years (with or without a violin) are obvious ways a parent could have a more extraordinary impact on her child's development, but, happily, they are not very typical.

Harris and Pinker's point is that parents have a pretty perfunctory role in a child's development (feed, protect, provide the rudiments of cognitive development) and much less influence than most people generally suppose (probably, most of all, parents that think they are having an impact). What influence they do have is regularly mixed up with genetic characteristics that the child has inherited.

Chua's argument seems to reinforce the point: to move the needle requires draconian measures.

My point with language was it's simply an obvious one. There are a great many traits from our parents that affect us strongly on a subconscious level.

Besides, saying "yeah, we have parents, but we all end up the same regardless" is a total cop-out when you turn around and say "yeah, we have genes, but they count for a wild fluctuation of 50% - far more important in the development than any other factor". Which is odd. We all have eyes. Arms. Legs. Lungs. Run, walk, cry, think, breathe, eat, excrete, suffer cold and hot. If you're trying to paint this theoretical 100% influence total as "that which makes us individual from each other", then it's farcical to say "parents don't count because we all end up with the basics" but somehow genes get special treatment. The fact that some of us have red hair and some don't doesn't count for 50% of our individuality.

If such minor differences between people really counted for 50% of our differentiation, then there'd be far more homogeneity in personality for people of average height, average build, and average attractiveness. Those numbers are simply plucked from the air.

It depends of the parents. László Polgár (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%A1szl%C3%B3_Polg%C3%A1r) trained all his daughters very well in chess.

I read about him in Talent is Overrated. Great book by the way, for any parents out there who want their child to be the next Tiger Woods or Mozart. Just make them do it from as young as age as possible.


It sounds like the result of Amy Chua's mothering is to instill in her children a love of, maybe even addiction to, accomplishment through extremely hard work and sacrifice. And that's pretty much what it takes to do anything truly great.

If her kids enter college with that mindset completely internalized, then I'd say odds are they'll be less likely to get distracted by the low-priority frivolities their peers may.

This makes me think of Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet, where he tells a parent their children will live in a time they can never visit or see and therefore must let their children have their own thoughts.

The excerpt "On Children":

  Your children are not your children.
  They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

  They come through you but not from you,

  And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

  You may give them your love but not your thoughts, 

  For they have their own thoughts.

  You may house their bodies but not their souls,
  For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, 
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

  You may strive to be like them, 
but seek not to make them like you.

  For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

  You are the bows from which your children 
as living arrows are sent forth.

  The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, 
and He bends you with His might 
that His arrows may go swift and far.

  Let our bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
  For even as He loves the arrow that flies, 
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

That is well said.

I was chatting with a friend who is studying education for her PhD about the article. We were unimpressed by Chua's approach and think it's quite too extreme.

Regarding the WSJ essay - my perspective is that what Chua's kids are going through is barbaric and will not generate well-educated, Renaissance-esque people.

There is tremendous value in learning and discipline, and my observation of American schools makes me think that American schools are pretty weaksauce in the discipline and focus department. I don't think anyone out there denies that.

To pick at a particular example of Chua - music. I am better-suited than some others to look at this, since I myself - and my sister - spent time learning music as children and into our college years.

Mrs Chua! Your kids do well in violin and piano. And only violin and piano. Why violin and piano? Is the trumpet - a fine instrument! - beneath them? Or the viola, an underappreciated sibling to the violin? Perhaps it was simply too blue-collar to consider such an instrument as the guitar and its fine heritage in baroque European works. Or perhaps your children's true ability would have been in the drums. But, no, alas. It was the high-brow, well-respected violin and piano you chose for them. How simple it is to say, "ah, these are the respected instruments, the instruments bringing good face to us". Mrs. Chua, you have deeply restricted your children's musical activities. You really should not have done that. There is no call to regulate and legislate play like that. You should have let them explore their own mind, their own heart. They are Human beings too, and their perspective should be taken into account for their play. If they sought after being a professional musician, then there would have been time for focus, and much of it. Focus is the hallmark of a professional! But play is something else.

Or the viola, an underappreciated sibling to the violin?

Thank you! I consider it the great mistake of Western music that the exquisitely-toned viola lost out to the squeaky fiddle. The Russians got it right: they call the violin skripka, which is exactly how it sounds, halfway between screeching and scraping. I actually have trouble listening to orchestral music because of this. That high-pitched squeaking gets in the way. It's as if the leading wind instrument had been the piccolo.

Fully agree about barbaric parenting practices as well. :)

I'd like to know more specifically the choice of acceptable instruments. My observation is that the choices of piano and violin are not limited to Asian families (at least, not in the US). There seems to be a link between people who wish to foster academic excellence in their children, and the choice to have them play piano and/or violin. I'd be interested to know if anyone here has any insights as to why those particular instruments are chosen, and I'd be even more interested to know why other instruments would be strictly excluded (whether by Asian parents or those of other heritage).

Personally, I think it is a good idea to have kids learn piano for at least a couple of reasons. First, I think the visual layout of a piano can help attach a physical understanding to the concept of intervals and chords (specifically the distance between notes, and the clustering of notes in specific patterns to form chords). For me personally, I think that was a benefit, even though I play piano very little, and not very well. Secondly, I don't recall ever meeting an adult who took lessons as a child for any length of time (and then quit) who as an adult does not wish they had continued. Now surely there will be at least 7 people on HN who will now speak up, inform me that they hated lessons as a child, happily quit when they were able and never regretted it for a second. But unless my memory is failing me, that must mean we've never met (or at least we've never discussed piano lessons), and thus my statement still stands :-D To that I will add, that even with a number of "I quit and I'm glad" entries, I still think the majority of the adults in question wish they hadn't quit.

Oh, and a third reason to play piano: they make nice weighted, touch-sensitive keybords now that do a pretty decent job of mimicking the feel of a real piano (at least close enough for me), and you can move them from room to room and house to house by yourself. (You won't have to get 3 to 5 of your soon to be ex-best friends to help you). We sold our old upright piano about 3 moves ago, and I've been celebrating the sale ever since :-D

I think klenwell has at least part of the answer:

Chua probably believes that its her strictness and strong principles that are leading her children to excel. And these have their role, no doubt. But I would propose, following Harris, it is her oppressive control of their social lives which is the much stronger factor.

Piano and violin are commonly played in isolation! This supports the Chinese parenting style in several ways:

• You don't have to practice with other musicians. Sure, a dedicated trumpeter spends a lot of time playing scales by himself, but to actually perform, you typically need to be in a band, orchestra, quartet or whatever. This means practicing as a group, and introduces opportunities for social interaction which might undermine parental control.

• Soloists don't have to share their glory. From what I can see, the Chinese drive to push their children to succeed has a lot to do with the way a successful child reflects on the parent. Shared success doesn't help the parent compete with other parents.

• It allows the parent to control the material. An awful lot of music is fundamentally rebellious, and the last thing a Chinese parent wants is their child learning jazz or rock or reggae and thinking about what it means.

I fact, I have to wonder if the point of pushing music so hard is to soak up the child's spare time, with an activity that leaves no time for a social life.

Did a quick search and found this:


Essentially, they are seen as the most 'refined' instruments to learn and play.

The piano is chosen as you need to learn both treble and bass clef to play, the violin because they are portable and light enough for very young children to hold.

From tfa.

OK, well that might explain the Asian preference. But I'd like to hear from a source that is not explicitly Asian (since I've seen the same choices in many non-Asian groups).

A Nature article suggests it's music training in general with regard to verbal memory: "...adults who received music training before the age of 12 have a better memory for spoken words than those who did not. Music training in childhood may therefore have long-term positive effects on verbal memory." http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v396/n6707/abs/396128a0... I do wonder if the same effect would result with any memory-intensive task. Reading and playing music would have to be one of the most intensive and enjoyable, however.

Piano has assorted benefits, sure. But I'm not convinced that it's worth making a major investment into unless you're focused on being a professional musician.

To this I would add: if you want to be a good musician, generally, learning piano is very helpful. You'll absorb a lot of music theory (harmony) by osmosis. I found that quite helpful in my music theory and ear training courses in college. Beyond that, it's harmonically richer and more fun to play alone than a single line melody instrument, IMHO. (I say that as a former flutist who still plays the piano.)

Let me be one of those seven. I started playing classical guitar at 8, quit at 10, picked it up again out of my own volition at 15, and I never ever regretted the five potential years of practice I've wasted.

* You learn most when you actually want to learn, so forcing kids into extracurricular activities can but often doesn't lead to greatness.

* It's very, very easy to neglect any unhappiness that would've followed from being forced to play an instrument, because all that unhappiness is in the past. It feels like a free lunch, but it really isn't.

The nice thing knowing how to play the violin, viola, or guitar is that you can carry them with you almost anywhere. The nice thing about knowing how to play the piano is there's a piano in every school, church, reception hall, etc.

Perhaps that explains why despite the armies of children drilled to play instruments, the Asian music and pop scene remains so atrociously bad.

The "Chinese mother" approach to raising children is based around motivations at the second-highest level of Maslow's hierarchy:


While this aggressive approach to parenting can be made to sound right on a certain dispassionate level, to some people it just feels intensely wrong in a way that's hard to explain. Why is that?

What happens is that children raised to heavily optimize "Esteem" have a hard time switching gears into "Self-actualization". It's no surprise that the "Chinese mother" disallows her child from starring in the school play. That would be a means of self-expression; it would throw a monkey wrench in the whole works.

I've found many times in life that in order to self-actualize further, I've had to give up things that others praised. I think that in quitting Google and joining a startup (despite her parents' likely disapproval), the author has taken a big step towards self-actualization.

This is not intended to exactly disagree: Many times when people cite the Maslow hierarchy, they often to take it as an axiom that the hierarchy is completely exactly how people work, and to lead better lives, people must go about fulfilling exactly these needs in this order.

As someone who presumably subscribes to the hierarchy, would you agree that you seem fairly certain that this is how it works? And, if so, can you say why?

At minimum, I'd say that it's not obvious to me that the order specified by the hierarchy is really in evidence. For example, I believe I've witnessed a fair number of people I'd say were self-actualized and esteemed who are fairly short on the friendship/family/sexual-intimacy front.

No, I do not believe in a strict order imposed by the hierarchy. My view, which I've come to through studying both Maslow's Hierarchy and Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration, is that you're able to operate at the highest level you've so far achieved during your lifetime, even if one of the lower levels is missing. For example, one who had all five levels fulfilled during childhood will be capable of self-actualization in later life even during periods of physical or fiscal insecurity.

Some clarifications:

1. Presumably you don't have to satisfy everything in each level to be considered satisfying that level; otherwise if your entire family dies in a plane crash, you can never achieve MH3 again, and if you never got MH5 before that, you're permanently fucked.

2. If you get to MH4, but then your town gets hit by a neutron bomb, killing your wife, family, and friends, you get your MH3 knocked out, but your MH1, MH2, and MH4 are all still intact (MH4 because you telecommute most of the time, so your career is intact). Are you immediately eligible for MH5, or do you have to regenerate your MH3 first?

3. Interesting corner case: Say you get to MH3 by virtue of being raised in a rich American family. At age 18, you fly somewhere to visit a college by yourself, and your entire city gets blown away by a neutron bomb. You now have no friends or family, but life insurance on your family pays off handsomely, so you are at MH2. You decide to become a soulless driven businessman, and you do fine; you get promoted, everybody respects your competence, you respect other people's competence, etc, but you have no friends and no companionship. It would appear that you have reached MH4, but you never got there while you had MH3; does this count as MH4? Or do you deny the possibility of this scenario? (I made it up, so that's perfectly valid.)

(These are not leading questions; I'm curious as to how the Maslow viewpoint deals with corner cases.)

What's the point of a "hierarchy" then, if the "upper" levels do not depend on the "lower" ones? Basically what you're saying here is a tautology: one is able to operate at a "level" that, well, one is able to operate at.

It's clear that vsingh claims that you need to fulfill the lower levels to reach the higher ones for the first time.

I thought it was a satire at first when i read the original article in WSJ. I was astounded that Ms. Amy Chua was serious. How arrogant it is! It also makes me wonder why WSJ published such an apparently ridiculous article. What are the essential differences between claiming Chinese mother supremacy from white supremacy?

Both my wife and I are Chinese. We have two lovely children. They are like free range chickens in our house and in the school. We showed them how to use Google, Wikipedia, Webster, etc. so that they can look for knowledge they are interested by themselves. They had their own gmail accounts when they were four years old. My older child had Twitter account when he was six, before my wife ever heard of Twitter. :)

Because we believe love, trust, and confidence are most important for them to live a good life. The utmost goal of our education is for them to be independently thinkers, to work hard, to be creative, to have sympathy, to do right things for this society.

And I have confidence to say there are many Chinese parents holding the same belief as we do.

> It also makes me wonder why WSJ published such an apparently ridiculous article.

Chua is trying to drum up interest for her new book on the same topic which goes on sale today. Her publisher, Penguin Books, is owned by Pearson PLC. Rupert Murdoch and News Corp (which owns the WSJ) has plenty of history with Pearson -- owning a significant stake in the company in the 80's, buying HarperCollins from Pearson in the 90's, competing with Pearson's Financial Times lately. I don't know if there is any Murdoch ownership in Pearson now, or any publishing agreements between the two companies, but I doubt the WSJ article was published based on editorial reasons alone.

What are the essential differences between claiming Chinese mother supremacy from white supremacy?

Naked appeals to racism are out of fashion. Attributing differences among ethnic groups to “culture” provides one with plausible deniability. As a further bonus, Chua’s op-ed provides anecdata for people who want to beat the drums of “if you are poor it’s your own fault for not trying hard enough”.

I don't want to start another topic, so I'll leave this - an excellent response from a user on Quora on the topic: http://www.quora.com/Parenting/Is-Amy-Chua-right-when-she-ex...

The quote from that comment is very telling.

I did not choose the title of the WSJ excerpt, and I don't believe that there is only one good way of raising children. The actual book is more nuanced, and much of it is about my decision to retreat from the "strict Chinese immigrant" model. -Amy Chua

Seconded - the Quora response is excellent and suggests/hints that the pressure from parents is one reason why suicide is high among Asian-American females.

she seems to be blaming her mother for driving her sister towards depression and suicide. Kinda harsh. Could have been something else.

Not exactly. Depression killed her sister. She blames her mother for training her sister to hide that depression at all costs.

She may never know "why" the depression happened (as if there needs to be a reason) but unfortunately she probably has a pretty good idea of why her sister didn't turn to family for help.

Extremely well written, and echoes many of the comments in the quora thread (and in my own observations).

There's a logic to it all though, in China for example, there isn't really any reward to be a big risk taker, and the downsides can be huge (social isolation, imprisonment, worse). Success then is to follow directions, do what you are told, and do it with supreme competence.

This is often discussed in terms of the traditional Confucian Academies, and how dedicated studies could lead a peasant into a life of government service and success and pride for his family. But one has to look at what a classical Confucian education entails, literacy for sure -- but it was basically a monumental task of rote memorization. Unfortunately, Chinese parents who try to replicate this on their American born kids are doomed because they haven't quite gotten the message that those things aren't as valued here.


A well reasoned response. An area where the focus on rote memorization and lack of creativity/risk taking starts to show in the educational realm is in US grad schools. I've known of individuals coming to the US from China at the top of their class, but thrown into an environment where they need to think critically and strive for the unique idea upon which to base their dissertation on, they struggle.

That is not to say that in grad school situations, finding an idea / area of study leading to a PhD is easy, but those with a background based in rote have struggled more in my experience.

thanks! agreed--what is necessary for success is completely different here, yet many Chinese parents still think there is a magic formula, and that they know it!

It seems to go both ways too. I find Americans can have a hard time being successful in other countries with vastly different socio-economic cultures as well. (ref: U.S. Investment Failure in newly capitalist Russia and China).

I'm a constant immigrant and I can say this is not really a Chinese phenomena, but probably has more to do with immigrant mindset. I think because she is a successful driven professor she has upped the ante on this. So, in addition to what her mother considers successful she has added the cutthroat business and academic world of what is considered successful, then drummed that into her kids and got a book deal out of it.

As an immigrant from a caribbean island I see where she is coming from almost perfectly. Immigrants to the US aren't, in general, ditch diggers and gardeners. It requires a clean record, education, and motivation. Then when you arrive in the US the state isn't required to give you anything. From the moment you land, you and your family are basically on your own to find housing and work, though they do have local outreach programs to help in this. This survivorship mode carries on even when you are successful and especially when you have kids. My mom had few words for me, "STUDY!" and "What did you learn today?". "I love you", was reserved for birthdays and Christmas. Playing was reserved for weekends and summer breaks.

The one thing she did impart to me was motivation. At some point, when work demanded more from her, I had to be completely self-sufficient (or as much as a 10 year old could be). I was looking after my brother and sisters, studying, and running the household by myself (notice I haven't mentioned my father...long story). I enrolled in music courses, summer study courses, and enrolled at a magnet school. My mother stopped pushing me to excel and I started doing it on my own.

Now, I've moved to another country and started a family. And that same immigrant psychology of sink or swim has manifested in me. My son is only 3 but I'm pushing him to excel academically. I've said some of the same words to him that Chua has told her daughters (minus the verbal abuse). And I think at some point he will also be self sufficient, no angry mother or father leaning over his should to make sure he does his work or chores.

At the same time, the relationship I have with our mother is vastly different than what my brother and sisters have with her. I speak to her like a soldier speaks to an officer. They speak to her like a child to speaks to a mother. I'm really jealous that they have this type of relationship, and they are jealous that I'm the golden son.

Classic joke: “What’s a Jewish dropout? A boy without a Ph.D.”

Everybody likes to give their parents credit/blame for everything (good and bad) but that overlooks the fact that people have different personalities that are surprisingly inborn and resilient. David Brooks has a line somewhere (I'll try to dig it up) where he says the most important thing is to be a "good enough" parent: provide a safe environment where your kids are encouraged and stimulated. It's not necessary to be a super-parent. Extraordinary people are not solely the product of parenting and the main thing is to shepherd your kids through childhood so they can reach adulthood without any scars.

The point about turning out a generation of clones is spot on, and ultimately the cruelest irony of the whole thing. The best way to get into an elite college is by standing out as an individual; the colleges asian parents desperately want their kids to attend deal with the "asian clone" thing by rejecting the lot of them. The asian kid with a 1560 SAT and state violin awards (probably) isn't getting into Harvard, but if he had substituted kicking field goals for every minute he practiced violin...

"The asian kid with a 1560 SAT and state violin awards (probably) isn't getting into Harvard"

18% of Harvard students are Asian, so yeah, he (probably) would. And, that's with a long-standing policy of "ethnic cleansing" in Asian matriculation[1].


That doesn't really nullify his point - what percentage of applicants were Asian?

It really does nullify the point. If, as he claims, Harvard were trying to actively prevent the "asian clones" from invading, they would not allow a minority that makes up only 4% of the general population take almost up almost 1/5th of the slots, especially when you're underrepresenting whites, blacks, AND hispanics in the process (again, as a percentage of the general population).

But, to answer your question, 23% of total applicants are Asian-American, and 18% of total accepted are Asian-American[1]. So, yeah, little Johnny Violin is likely getting into Harvard.


PS, yes, my math was totally mucked up. Thanks for pointing that out :D It should be around 8% acceptance, which is actually less than the acceptance rate overall. Hmmm... so I guess they are rejecting them in droves.

That does not mean the acceptance rate is near 80%.

Imagine 100 people apply, 50 of which are Asian. 5 people get in, 1 of which is Asian. 20% of the total accepted are Asian, but the acceptance rate among Asians is 2% and 8% for other races.

you might want to check your math...

The kid who merely has 1560 SAT and state violin awards won’t get into Harvard. The people running admissions for top-tier schools are looking for freshmen who are “well-rounded” as well as smart, and they want a “diverse” student body as well. If you show up with exactly the same extracurricular activities on your resume that a thousand other pushed-to-overachieve seventeen-year-olds all over the country have, you are at a disadvantage.

18% seems pretty low, but I'm on the west coast.

> In reality they are just molding all their kids to look exactly the same on paper.

I wasn't expecting this argument, but it reminds me a lot of how the RECRUIT company has managed to commoditize the workforce in Japan. By unifying applications and highlighting only certain traits, they've created a system where applicants all try to maximize only those specific traits (grades, entrance exam scores, TOEFL scores, etc.). On the other hand, companies mostly only see those traits, so they'll throw out an application if anything slightly negative shows up, whether it's that you've ever quit a job, or that your handwritten resume had less-than-perfect penmanship.

Optimizing for a small set of traits probably actually works well to a degree in the U.S. specifically because not everyone is optimizing for those same traits.

I am a western (Brazilian-American) living in China.

All this drilling and tests may sound crazy, but I do think it teaches an important value that is missing in the west's education: discipline

My wife is a teacher. She taught kids in the US (California) and here in China. One difference is that in the US a huge amount of her preparation time is spent on making lessons interesting to students, otherwise they disconnect. In China she is more focused on the lesson's subject matter, rather than tweaking the lesson for entertainment / attention value.

True, Chinese education does not value creativity or self-expression like in the west (and Chinese students are aware of that). But the lack of discipline is not the way to go IMO.

Jean Hsu's post is wonderful, by the way.

> in the US a huge amount of her preparation time is spent on making lessons interesting to students, otherwise they disconnect. In China she is more focused on the lesson's subject matter, rather than tweaking the lesson for entertainment / attention value.

I came to the U.S. from Eastern Europe and went to a U.S. college. The introductory science textbooks were all guilty of this. The biology textbooks especially were simply unbearable to me. What makes learning material interesting to an American kid is not necessarily going to make it interesting to someone outside of the American culture. Also, some smarter kids are simply bored by the lame attempts of textbook publishers to add "pizzas" to make the material appear "interesting." Smarter kids just want content, in the most concise form possible, so that it would not take a lot of time to read and understand it.

The thing that struck me most about American education: kids carrying around huge heavy backpacks with huge heavy glossy textbooks in them (those books would have cost a month's salary from where I was originally from) that were full of either cartoon-like drawings in poorly chosen colors or "stories" in colored boxes that all had very little to do with actual content and talked down to me as if I were mentally challenged. Oh, and those textbooks were published like every year or so in a new edition, so that you could not resell once you bought one and used it for the course. I was extremely happy when I got to graduate-level courses because it meant no more of those retarded textbooks.

This reminds me of Why The Lucky Stiff's response to a critique of Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby:


"The problem here is: the author of the article is trying to do academics, to gain knowledge, to build a career. And my cartoons and stories have patronized him, belittled him, by treating him as if he wasn’t a real professional. This is a terrible breach of conduct. He has accolades innumerable. He has done no small deed. His peers are all gathered around him, wishing him the best and swelling with nothing but respect and esteem for him. NOW WHAT IS THIS CARTOON BOOK DOING HERE??"

On a more serious note, it sounds like you were just above the level of material that the textbooks were trying to teach, or maybe the format just didn't work for you. But why shouldn't learning be fun?

Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby is sooo not like a typical introductory biology textbook that it's not even a comparison. W(p)GtR is hip, to-the-point, artistic, witty, with a distinctive voice, intelligently executed, and actually fun. A typical introductory biology textbook is usually designed by a committee with no actual UI design experience and has all the sex appeal of a fifty-something guy with male pattern baldness and bear belly who wears pleated khakis with a cell phone holster on the belt repeating a few slang phrases he memorized in order to seem cool.

It's like Calvin and Hobbes comic vs Microsoft Bob -- sad, really.

Basically the lesson is that if you don't know your audience (also when your audience consists of the entire young population of a country as diverse as the U.S., which is the case with textbooks), do not try to pull off cool and fun, because many people's idea of cool and fun is very different from yours. And if you must try to be cool/fun, hire some people who actually know how to be cool/fun in the first place.

While trying to give them an academic advantage, these parents are really stunting their personal and social development.

This rings true in my experience. I don't think my parents understood the difference between substantive (and personal) success and societal success. Actually, for me the pervasive and insistent message was that my passions do not matter and are probably wrong and bad.

Their narrow-minded formula for success (great grades, ivy league, medical school, high paying job) may work for some, but it alienates those who might find success elsewhere.

I was one of these kids. At middle age I am still dealing with the emotional scars and just starting to find my true place in the world.

I came across http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_in_Japan when I was reading about Japan on Wikipedia. It led me to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shame_society which says that the high suicide rate may be attributed to the societal structure. These societies set high standards for individuals and that may result in high performance from the society but, at the same time, may depress under-achievers to such an extent that people commit suicides.

I've heard people bring up the argument of suicides when this subject comes up before. But I don't think it is a valid point because you are cherry picking statistics.

If you want to make a more fair comparison you would need to look at a variety of factors to get a overall picture.

Would it be fair for an Asian to look at the USA and pick something like school shootings ( or drug use, or criminality, or teen pregnancy - which ever stat makes the USA look worse) to attack the entire American style of parenting? Obviously it wouldn't be.

Another "strict parents" story, also coincidentally Asian: http://www.asiacarrera.com/bio2.html

An interesting example. In a job I wouldn't necessarily wish on anyone - but she ran her own website and was to some extent her own producer. This was before porn became socially acceptable.

I am not sure why you cite her example. Is it "see - if you push too hard they will run off and become porn stars!!!" ?

Or - is this the case: Here is someone who had the native intelligence and creativity and entrepreneurial wherewithal to take a basically crappy, exploitive situation and shape it to some extent.

Not to say it is a utopian existence but she did this before there was a culture industry that produces Jenna Jameson (sp?) type of success with all of the open merchandising and acceptance.

The 'Chinese Mom' (in this case German and Japanese - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asia_Carrera) quite possible helped in this case. And according to the wikipedia entry she herself is raising her kids in a 'conservative' manner.

I read that WSJ article and had it clanking around in my head for a few days... I was countering it with some of the 'free-range' parenting styles you read about.

The most valid insight of the article was that some things (ie - violin, number theory, LISP, organic chemistry) are inherently hard and require discipline to get through the 'rote-learning' boring parts. The 'touchy-feely', "let's make math interesting" style of parenting/ teaching misses this. There is something to 3 hours of violin vs 45 minutes and 2 hours of TV as a reward...

I am no 'Chinese Mom' but see that this style of parenting is best for a kid who has certain proclivities. If they have an impulse towards music it is important for them to push them selves past the drudgery of practicing scales onto real accomplishment.

If the kid hates music then drop it and find something else. But push them enough so that they understand that if they work through the initial tough part some real beauty lies ahead.

As an Engineer with a crazy controlling Chinese father. I know parents make a big difference in the early years. I've experienced not having attend sleep overs, any extracurricular/sports, friends over, or phone calls. Most prisoners have more freedom. My dad being a teacher back in China, ended up giving me hours of extra homework on top of the regular easy stuff from school.

Sure your kids may get into med school or become that lawyer, but I'm almost certain at some point they are going to hate you for ruining their childhood. Also they are just going to develop bingeing personalities and have overloads the moment you take your eyes off them.

One thing I will grant about the original book and the controversy about it ... whatever the publicist got, was worth it.

I graduated in '99 with a 2.1 CompSci degree - the year a Chinese chap threw himself off the top of an 10-storey engineering building because he couldn't go back with a 2.1 degree.

Does it occur to anyone that the eastern/western parenting styles can be easily mixed?

When it comes to things like being honest, making good use of time, never give up easily, commitment to hard work, it doesn't hurt to exercise the eastern parenting style to force the kids to form these habits. The kids will thank you later.

When it comes to what the kids should do as hobby/career, the kids should be given a lot of freedom, as one can only do well in stuff that he/she's truly passionate about.

I was raised like this as well and surrounded by Asian parents who do this. I see a few of my Asian peers, as young parents, exercising the totalitarian technique as well.

I supposed, in the end, my dad did it. I accomplished all his goals at relatively young age. But that comes with a huge cost. I never see him as a loving caring dad. He is always the target to beat. Sucks to be him now, old and alone.

This article and other Asians who follow Amy Chua's style of parenting rarely see this one perspective:

The oppressive technique is cargo-culted to death among Asian parents. It is used by Asian parents who themselves, are not successful like some sort of miracle drugs.

This technique only works IF the parents themselves are successful. If the parents are lazy, glutton, and messy, there is no way this technique will make the kids dapper and discipline.

For those of you who suffer/ed Asian parents oppression, there's always the satirical: http://highexpectationsasianfather.tumblr.com

(Parenting anecdote warning)

From my kids, I demand that they do their share of work (at home and later, in life), that they be kind and respect other people (but it's okay that other people may not always like it when someone sets their limits), and that they don't continue to do things for wrong reasons without thinking about it first (like doing stuff to mostly impress other people).

I listen to what they want and try to hear what's true. I give them few things only: kids always want a lot of things but I do force them to prioritize and think it over a couple of times, so that they will learn to listen themselves to what they really want. And that they will learn to appreciate the value of what they have. You can't have everything in life or everything will lose its value.

I let them make choices themselves, given that some final limitations are followed. For example, they can wear what they like as long as I've checked they've got enough clothing so that they'll be warm. When they're spending their money, they can do whatever they want with it. For example, they can invest all their money in candy; however, I don't let them eat candy every day all over the week as we have specific days for goodies.

That's pretty much it. I don't have any vocational or educational goals or hobby-wise demands for them. I trust that they will eventually do what they simply can't not do. Long idle periods may precede but that's okay. As long as you're alive, time is indefinite.

I don't claim to have—or gain—control over their lives and choices, barring some rules they as kids need require and with regard to the physical world. I consider it good to be humble enough to understand that I have no idea whatsoever of what's best for them in their lives. I might have an idea or two about what I would do and I sometimes talk about that but I don't dare suggest they had to follow.

I don't always know how to do all that. But most of the time I think I get it right eventhough I'm still learning myself. I'll just mostly try to be there when they need support. And that's hard and demanding too, and I think that too often I can't do that either.

But I'm pretty confident that when a couple of kids live with me for about 18 years in a rather intimate living arragement, something will stick and that imprint will be close to what I wanted to say. Time only will tell if I turn out to be right or wrong but I merely hope they'll find it valuable, one way or another.

I'm not really sure whether to agree or disagree. I have asian parents and went through the whole ordeal.

I can honestly say that, as a kid, I didn't enjoy it, but then again, I can't imagine anyone would.

However, I definitely would not be as knowledgeable, intelligent, or well brought up without the asian schooling.

This article and most people against asian parenting's viewpoint is from the outsiders viewpoint. They all see the brutality of it and think "how could you treat your child like that." On the flipside however, it is undeniable that asians outperform westerners. Parenting likely has something to do with it.

I'm not saying one side is right or the other. I'm just noting that there's a statistical imbalance and unless we're all willing to admit asian genes are superior to all others, outside influence must be responsible and parenting/culture is the most likely culprit.

> it is undeniable that asians outperform westerners

[Citation needed]

Looking at the breakdown, then perhaps Indian mothers are the superior ones? :-)

The point is that optimizing along one or two metrics such as income or education is myopic (which was the actual topic of the article), especially when you don't take into consideration the associated costs (opportunity and otherwise).

Look, you asked for a citation and I spent, apparently wasted, my time getting you two. Looking at income, education, percentage of children born out of wedlock, incarceration rates, and a number of other metrics, those of asian are doing very well compared to whites, blacks, and latinos.

If you want to pick your pet metric and explain why asians actually aren't doing so well, then you should provide citations and make your case.

Seriously, right?!

> On the flipside however, it is undeniable that asians outperform westerners.

Look around your office and name 5 things invented in the Asia.

Paper, ink, the compass, most of the food you eat is from china,and clothes you wear.

The word paper is derived from "papyrus", Egyptian invention - along with ink. Chinese invented more practical process though, although modern way of manufacturing paper is different.

Compass, yes, although I don't keep one in my office (nor gunpowder for that matter).

None of the clothes I wear were invented in Asia.

It's possible to be strict and take some parts of Asian parenting without taking it to an extreme. I had math homework everyday during the summer, but I enjoyed it and my mom was smart enough to not force me to do it for hours a day. I also had a lot of free time to run around outside and play. With one or two exceptions, my parents rarely forced me to do schoolwork or practice piano. I think I turned out ok.

Im Chinese American, and although I'm no psychologist, it's quite clear to me you're suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

I read the original article and honestly couldn't tell if it was a satire or not. I appreciate the honesty of the writer of this blog post though.

I honestly thought the WSJ essay was as good or better than A Modest Proposal.

A contrary viewpoint:

After studying a number of different cultures and backgrounds and histories, I'm generally an admirer of the school of parenting laid out by Chua. Well, I think some of the more insulting/demeaning/negative-reinforcement isn't so great, but the overall focus on achievement and duty as superior to having fun... I do respect that. I'll explain why -

I used to think the opposite until I read Andre Agassi's autobiography, "Open" - Agassi was one of the top tennis players in the world, hit #1 multiple times, and generally achieved tremendously a lot. He's now married to Stefi Graff, the top women's tennis player of all time, and they have two kids and seem like a really healthy and happy family.

In his book, Agassi talks about hating tennis. He really does. His father, an immigrant to the USA from Iran, drilled tennis into him obsessively from a young age, constantly telling him he's going to be #1 in the world.

Agassi was miserable a lot of that time.

So, why do I think it's a good style of parenting?

Because people from the driven overachieving backgrounds don't realize that people with more normal lives go through their own sorts of miseries. If anything, I think Western culture leaves people directionless and in angst and miserable through their younger years more often than not.

The kid that just follows the minimum program, hangs out, drifts around, gets high a lot, and then wakes up at age 42 with no professional success, no real social circle, no accomplishments, no family, no skills, working at Starbucks...

...y'know, it's socially acceptable to criticize people for overachieving and striving at the expense of other things, but it's not really socially acceptable to criticize people for mediocrity. It's kind of taboo to put down that people who spend their youth chasing pleasure frequently break down into full-on existential crises and madness later in life.

The vast majority of people don't self-actualize and don't achieve real meaning in their lives. Most people ascribe this to their background and external things. So you sometimes see people people who grow up under intense parenting styles say, "Well yes I tended to achieve more, but I was unhappy" - maybe, but remember that the grass is always greener on the other side...

I'll say one very real downside of the intensive parenting style - it has a much higher variance/standard deviation of results. You're likely to make it very professionally successful, or completely break down under the pressure. That's the downside. But overall, would someone like Andre Agassi have been happier if he'd just farted along and been a middle manager at some warehousing/shipping company in Nevada? Yeah, he often hated tennis and hated his father, but in the end he inspired millions of people, got to experience triumphs most people will never feel, achieved a complete mastery and harmony between his mind and body in competition, built a family with an absolutely incredible woman, and lots of other good things.

There's downsides, sure. But the grass is always greener on the other side. I could point out my opinions as to the flaws of any given parenting style, but I find the duty/achievement end of the spectrum to seem closer to overall well-being than the reverse.

Hate to say it, Sebastian, but this whole comment seems built on the back of a false dichotomy. You don't either berate your kids and force them to toil for years at something they hate OR they turn into listless, lifeless middle managers who just fart along. Plus, you're completely ignoring survivorship bias (in some cases literally): for every Andre Agassi, there are probably thousands of parents who told their kids they'd be #1 at tennis...and none were. You think those kids have now achieved self-actualization? Not to mention the fact that lots of people who ARE #1 haven't achieved any kind of "self-actualization" either, and are completely miserable people inside.

On this topic, I intend to teach my kids the three things my father told me over and over and over as a kid:

  1. A job worth doing is a job worth doing well.
  2. Winners concentrate on winning. Losers concentrate on getting by.
  3. You can do anything you set your mind to.
If they want to use that to become #1 in the world at tennis or #347 at being a middle manager in a warehouse in Nevada, that's great. Life isn't about being #1 in the world or being a celebrity or marrying another celebrity. It's being secure in who you are and the choices you've made.

Here's to all the middle managers in Nevada who love their jobs :)

> Hate to say it, Sebastian, but this whole comment seems built on the back of a false dichotomy. You don't either berate your kids and force them to toil for years at something they hate OR they turn into listless, lifeless middle managers who just fart along.

C'mon Ryan, the whole discussion is littered with anecdotes, and I made another one. Obviously I don't think those are the only possible outcomes... but I do think a focus on duty/achievement/service/etc is underrated in the West right now.

> On this topic, I intend to teach my kids the three things my father told me over and over and over as a kid:

That's cool and your dad sounds like a pretty solid and cool dude, and that jives with generally what I believe.

Going beyond just parenting, I do think everyone should try to excel at something - unless the middle manager is fully engaged and driven by his work, then I think it'd be good for him to strive to excel in music or art or charity or philanthropy or teaching or athletics or trying to build an amazing family or something...

I think not striving for excellence in anything is kind of sad. Why not try to push civilization forwards? Sometimes the main reasons said out loud - "well, I just want to be happy" - seem to mask other darker reasons, like fear of failure or inertia or feeling ill-equipped to make a difference. That's a damn shame. Why not strive to make some excellent contributions, in addition to striving to be happy?

>Sometimes the main reasons said out loud - "well, I just want to be happy" - seem to mask other darker reasons, like fear of failure or inertia or feeling ill-equipped to make a difference.

Sometimes obsession with external validation masks the same things.

There are no easy answers as to what is best for any given human, but there's definitely a market for those looking for the kind of easy answers that Amy Chua is selling.

You know cantelon, I'm going to think twice next time before I take up a position that the people who agree are quiet, and the people who disagree are loud. I put my perspective and reasoning up as impersonally as possible, and people are voting up someone who blames everyone else for their problems, saying he hates me and "fuck you"? It's... I dunno man, there's been some good discussion but I'm incredibly disappointed with some people just empathy-voting up raw hostility. I'll answer this though -

> Sometimes obsession with external validation masks the same things.

Y'know, I don't care about someone's motives if they're conducting themselves well... if someone gives to charity out of a desire to glorify themselves, that's totally okay in my book. Likewise, someone who invents just to have their name on an invention or innovation. A lot of great scientists, inventors, philanthropists, builders, and people who did good things really liked seeing their name in print. So be it, if they're doing good things.

> There are no easy answers as to what is best for any given human, but there's definitely a market for those looking for the kind of easy answers that Amy Chua is selling.

Indeed... or like the everyone is a unique snowflake craze, eh? There aren't easy answers. I dunno man, I come in here to share an alternative point of view. There's some good feedback/disagreement, but I'm a little surprised and let down by people giving the nod to really personal nasty hostility.

>Indeed... or like the everyone is a unique snowflake craze, eh?

Yeah, both attitudes are simplistic.

Hadn't seen the hostility directed towards you until now. Not constructive as you have no ill intent.

I think people are downvoting this because it appears you're fighting the wrong person. "sown" was the one who cursed at you, so this reply seems a bit out of place, since this reply is above "sown"'s post.

Everybody else is doing it? Seriously? That's what discourse on HN has come to?

C'mon Sebastian, you've been called on building a whole argument on an anecdote, suck it up and admit your mistake.

I would add one:

  4. Hard work is more important than being smart.
The reason for this has been discussed a lot, but the jist is that telling kids they are smart causes them to feel like there is something wrong with them when they try new things and fail ("I'm smart, why can't I solve this??!"). Praising hard work has been shown to work better.

Exactly. For more details, go to the source: Carol Dweck. A good starting point is her popular book Mindset. (www.mindsetonline.com) There's also now online growth mindset instruction for middle school students (and older) -- see www.brainology.us.

That's what he meant by #3 :)

This was shown in experiments Jonah Lehrer wrote about in "How We Decide"


This, a thousand times.

I was raised like this. My mom showed me no real love, nor did my family. I buckled under the pressure and when the time came for any real emotional support, they abandoned me in an attempt to get me to "try harder." I never forgave them and I don't talk to them any more.

In the end, regardless of how they felt or their intentions, I was made out to be nothing more than an ornament, a product for the glory of the family name.

I get the impression you were not on the receiving end of this sort of treatment, and I mean the real receiving end. The constant drumbeat of criticism, the cutting remarks, the dread of never living up to the horizon of expectation, never catching it.

I hate my family for what they did, and frankly, I hate you for advocating it, for encouraging a parent to make some other child's life miserable beyond imagining so you can placate your ideal about overachieving.

I am a real god damned human being. I am not "just one of those cases" that didn't work out.

PS: The real shit-kicker is that eventually I did get it together on my own terms, with just OK grades by even my own standards and graduated from some out-of-state land grant university. Some of those other kids who got straight As or whatever, some whom went to Cal or Stanford, whom spent their youth jumping through hoops for their parents' affections, work at the same place I do, writing shitty enterprise code.

I don't think driving your children to excel is incompatible with showing them "real" love. Just because parents derive pride from their children's success doesn't mean that you are nothing more than "an ornament." How did they abandon you?

I am personally disappointed in my parents because when I decided it was easier to just skate by in life as a teen, they let me get away with it. Things are sharper now, but I wasted a huge portion of my life and they were more concerned that I didn't want to go to church any more and were placated by my athletic achievements.

So, showing your kids no love is bad, but giving in to them for short term happiness sucks too. The self-esteem movement is overdone. I know people who are afraid to tell their kids that they are fat. Honesty and direction communication among family is enabled by strong family bonds, and, particularly in East Asian cultures, Confucian values that clearly establish the roles of parent and child. It's just hard to find the right balance to get kids to maximize performance.

Well expressed - had a similar experience growing up...

When you grow up learning to coast along it is hard to transition when you cant coast any more.

"Chinese mom" style helps with this. And this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deferred_gratification

You should leave in the "fuck you". That emotional response is apt in to convey how much this screws up people.

> You should leave in the "fuck you".

Only if he'd say it to lionhearted in person, over a dinner conversation, per the HN etiquette guide. He's certainly within his rights to feel strongly about this, and to convey his belief in the harm caused by the demanding, uncompromising style of child-rearing; but there should be a way to do that with a modicum of tact.

I did not see the original format, but I have seen "You know what, fuck you!" said over the dinner table in such a situation. A short expletive is IMO appropriate for denoting intense emotional reaction.

It would seem odd if someone said "wow, this hurts would you mind backing your car off my leg" to the point where you might wonder if you had actually driven over them. However, "Back your @#%$ car off my #%^@&^ leg is less ambiguous". So, if your having dinner with the queen it's probably not appropriate but "I was deeply hurt by their actions" is somewhat emotionally ambiguous.

So you're saying that one can't express strong emotions in writing without swearing?

If you're Dave Mclure, you should add a couple dozen more!


If I went back in time or have an opportunity to tell a kid like me growing up, I'd tell him that don't look at all of the kids who are jumping through the hoops for parents or for the Asian sub-culture. If you do your own thing, you'll be the envy of everybody else who is secretly insecure to buy into the crap.

Kinda of like in a night-club/bar, 99% of people there only hang out with people they came with; but everyone envy that one guy who came by himself to strike up conversation with strangers and don't give up a fuck about other people think.

PS: I second and confirm also the phenomenon on the East Coast. Some people who went to MIT or CMU, have resumes that Chinese mothers could only dream about, work at the same place I do along with people who went to state/community college, writing enterprise shitty code.

Reminds me of my wife's story. Talented as a young child and pushed by korean parents until she burned out by high school. It is not the pushing by itself but the pushing devoid of love - which is a different issue.

I was raised like this. My mom showed me no real love, nor did my family. I buckled under the pressure and when the time came for any real emotional support, they abandoned me in an attempt to get me to "try harder." I never forgave them and I don't talk to them any more.

In the end, regardless of how they felt or their intentions, I was made out to be nothing more than an ornament, a product for the glory of the family name.

All societies have their pathologies. Witness the stuff women had to go through in the 50's and 60's in the US. There's always ugliness under the surface. People just adapt and accept things as normal. It will always be the case that some part of "normal" is messed up if you look at it the right way.

That's almost as bad as telling a depressed person that they are overreacting and to just "cheer up". Incredibly stupid.

That's not what I meant. Just take it as face value. I'm saying that 1) these pathologies are real 2) they're not unique to any one culture 3) there are powerful forces that keep them from our everyday consciousness.

Thanks for revealing your biases so cheaply and easily.

The plural of anecdote is not data. The story about Agassi is nice, but a red herring. Most people do not succeed in such a spectacular way. They remain mediocre and still 'hate tennis and their father'. A prime example are Chinese olympic teams. If you've seen the documentary about the rowing team, hand-picked, drilled in military style and note they still losing to Western teams, you can be nothing but sad for them and resent a culture that thinks they can force every kid to be succesfull.

For one Agassi, there are a thousand Chinese children pushed as hard that don't make it anywhere. That's the kids you should be considering when choosing a parenting style. They will only resent tennis and their father. There was no time for anything else, so mediocre tennis players is all they are. Thanks mum.

> For one Agassi, there are a thousand Chinese children pushed as hard that don't make it anywhere.

The question isn't whether you achieve the highest levels of success - it's how results stack up on average... I tend to think the achievement/duty style of parenting does well at producing good results on balance. A lot of the numbers bare this out, depending on what you're looking for.

> That's the kids you should be considering when choosing a parenting still. My children may be mediocre, but their happy memories will last them forever.

But they're not mutually exclusive... it seems to me that purpose, meaning, duty, striving outperforms gunning for happiness. But this is the opposite of what most people in the West believe right now.

I disagree respectfully. Everyone chooses their own parenting style, but I think a focus on achievement and duty in younger years leads to more well-being and a better foundation than just-do-whatever-everyone's-a-winner. There's lots of ground in between them, but a slight shift towards achievement/duty seems like it'd cure a lot of the angst and confusion and unhappiness among young people in the West right now.

As a young person in the West, almost all the unhappy other young people I know just want a girlfriend. Perhaps you should find some young people and see if teaching them duty gets them one.

Duty to the glorification of one family seems a petty thing to me. The egoistic pursuit of personal glory or the pursuit of hedonistic pleasure also seems petty. I suggest instead a devotion to truth and substance.

Instead of pushing your kids to play violin to "get to State," I would suggest finding joy and art in music yourself. The former often produces mediocrity. The latter produces the sublime. There are tons of former "young prodigies" who put away their instrument as a forgotten childhood thing, whereas many of the best artists I know received a true joy in music from their parents.

It can even help with the girlfriend part.

Totally agree.

Just pushing your kids to be #1 at something is like designing a system with a single point of failure. What if the kid is not able to achieve it? Obviously, with a large population striving to achieve the same thing, there will be failures. What would you do then?

Instead, parents should concentrate on raising stable, open and mature children. Children, who as adults, develop a good sense of discrimination and discretion. Children, who know that failure is a part of life and they better learn from their mistakes. Children who realize that not everybody can be #1, but it's still worth trying. Children who appreciate the journey, and not just fret over the destination.

You can't say that these children who do not make it to the top, do not make it anywhere? Obviously a lot more study needs to go into this before anyone can make such blatant remarks either way.

The hardest part for the children who do not make it to the top is that they feel like they have not made it anywhere.

There's more than one person close to me who feels this way -- if you've been raised to believe that #2 is the first loser, you may have a very hard time adapting to a real world in which success is often collaborative and has no end point.

I mean, think about bringing a fiercely competitive mindset to one of the many areas of life where in reality, if your peers/collaborators/friends/relatives (not competitors) do better work, that helps you towards your common goal.

I've been thinking & talking about this a lot lately, because I'm the father of an 17-month-old, and I want her to know how to work hard for long-term goals, without giving her crippling perfectionism (no, not everything worth doing is worth doing well...) and a permanently twisted view of life.

How do we know Agassi is a success? We know he failed at many things for a large part of his personal life. Just because he became #1 at tennis doesn't make him a good person. It does seem like he's found a good place in life, but I don't think anyone here knows what daemons might be present in his mind.

I think we judge success by a shallow metric. Money or fame or success at a single thing in like is not a gage of success. Success is made from many things, not this narrow list.

I am trying to fit this in with what I've seen in college and at work.

I attended computer engineering college in India, and here it gets extremely competitive. You've got gazillions of students fighting over a college seat not because they love programming or because they love software, but because being a computer engineer is key to financial success. So, they slog over their grade 12 scores and IIT-JEEs and CETs, and secure a seat.

Once they get into college, it's all about getting 'distinctions' - grades higher than 66%. Consistent results mean they get placed in-campus and escape the monotony and the soul-drubbing experience of a fresher's jobhunt.

And what then? It's all about the next appraisal, the next promotion, the next overseas opportunity. Better pay means better marriage prospects, a better lifestyle and a better social circle, whatever their definition of the latter term may be.

And in this pursuit of lifestyle comfort and material excellence, the only time they really, really care about code quality or software design is when it has a real and direct bearing on these prospects.

And that bugs me - not the pursuit of material comforts, but the relegation of software craftmanship to a second order of priority. I have an inkling that in their upbringing, the economic and social aspects of success were ALL that that was defined. Often to the detriment of every other aspect of quality. And it is this unbalanced focus that I take issue with.

>Once they get into college, it's all about getting 'distinctions' - grades higher than 66%.

66% correct, or 66th percentile? At every school I went to, 66% correct would be a failing grade.

66% correct.

And if you can get that consistently at the University of Pune, Bob's your uncle and the universe is your oyster.

A cutoff of 66% has nothing to do with the complexity of the marking requirements nor any standardisation done.

I didn't say it did. It's just surprising to see that much of a difference, regardless of the cause.

I am Chinese and grew up in China. although I wasn't subjected to such parenting style growing up, I have many friends who were. now we are at the age when we are beginning to have kids. for what it's worth, all my friends swear that they'd never put their kids through what they went through. unanimously they hoped for a happier childhood for their children, "like those children in America", even if it means less career success and (Heaven forbid!) less virtuoso-ness with a Western instrument.

I suspect by the time their kids reach school age, some of that parental competitiveness would return, but so far the evidence is clear which way the pendulum is swinging.

I have a feeling that this article is just product of our time, in which the sole remaining superpower of America suddenly realizing China is hot on its heels -- a fear that I think it's largely blown out of proportion. As a reaction there arise all this interest in China, including our parental style. I remember reading Gladwell's book "Outlier" in which he attributed math abilities to Chinese ancestors growing rice and not wheat. seriously? Such farce is more telling of the changing balance of power than parenting styles having anything to do with said change.

On a similar note, we Chinese have been interested in how Americans raise kids for decades. the thinking goes, surely you guys must be doing something right to hold your position in the world for so long.

To use your line of reasoning, let's take another anomaly: Steve Jobs. The dude was adopted, was a community college dropout and did a ton of drugs. He woke up one day at 42 and found himself back at the CEO position of the company he co-founded and now he's considered by many the most successful CEO of our time. His company has a market cap of $300 billion+ and has created a whole lot of other intangibles by surrounding himself by other great people who love what they do.

Creativity and passion is not something you can teach your child--much less beat into them (this actually achieves the contrary). But yes, that doesn't mean some discipline and other blahs aren't important.

Factual correction: Jobs went to Reed, hardly a community college.


His management style isn't what something I would call liberal either. The success that he's achieved is based on control and demanding the best.

NeXT and Pixar in the middle, hardly just waking up.

Read the literal sense of the phrase.

He just "woke up one day"?

Steve Jobs is the Chinese mother in this story, not the child. He demands excellence from his team and is sometimes pretty over the top about the demand part of that phrase.

Why do all of these examples always focus on physical tasks that are obviously improved by practice. Playing a musical instrument like piano or playing a physical sport like tennis takes hand eye coordination, strength, agility and endurance. These examples are so horribly one-sided. Of course practicing a repetitive, manual example for 16 hours a day will make you better at it. That's called motor control skills and luckily for these mothers it has nothing to do with interest or liking what you're doing. Yes you can force someone to develop better motor control skills. But please don't start conflating that with "life skills" and "determination". Training your kid to be the best at fine motor control and manual dexterity is not exactly the way to be successful in the 21st century. They can learn that from video games.

And don't call this Chinese parenting, my Russian-Jewish mother made me study in very similar ways when I was younger. Fortunately, for me she realized that rote memorization is not the linchpin of a successful career, but at best a tiny foundation stone in your studies.

What I think western culture values more is internal drive. Sure you can beat greatness out of someone or you can inspire it. Inspiration can be a hit or miss thing, but when it happens, it is a beautiful thing.

There are only a few top spots. Only so much space in Ivy league schools, so these other people are needful, and they should be allowed to have their own brand of self-actualization without being seen as inferior.

Success that can be counted, does not count. We should aim as a society to redefine success as something that everyone can attain, such as happiness, tranquility and good health.

Come on, now! Achievement and having fun aren't mutually exclusive, like you seem to believe. If anything, they should go hand-in-hand. In your world-view, you seem to believe that you either end up like Andrei Agassi, or some middle-aged loser.

I teach chess to this 12 year old Chinese boy. He clearly has zero interest in progressing his game. And yet, his mother is there, always pushing him senselessly into a vocation he will be, at best, mediocre. Their time (and money) would be better spent on finding something that the kid really enjoys.

> Come on, now! Achievement and having fun aren't mutually exclusive, like you seem to believe.

That's not what I said, not what I meant, and not what I believe... c'mon now, mis-summarizing someone's point of view leads to total breakdowns in communication. Let's not do that.

We can't know what you believe, we can only guess at what you meant, and what you said is obviously open to misinterpretation. If someone misinterprets you, it's not necessarily done out of spite, it could be because you need to clarify your viewpoint. If the comment you're replying to is wrong, don't just point out that it's wrong, explain why.

You're right - I guess I tend to assume bad faith when someone writes "like you seem to believe" about something I don't... that's not usually used in a friendly-getting-to-truth type discussion.

There's a couple points:

-What kind of parental focus produces better well-being in children? It's not binary, but I lean towards the achievement/duty side of the spectrum. I know this goes against the current dominant Western thought, but it's not a radical perspective historically speaking.

-When people do feel unhappy about their upbringing, it's worth considering that the grass always looks greener on the other side. A looser, more relaxed, less disciplined parenting style doesn't guarantee happiness - in fact, I think it might produce less happiness on balance. Again, I'm in the minority of current Western thought, but there's been a lot of very successful societies built on a childhood focus on duty, achievement, and service...

On the other hand, Erik Demaine was homeschooled by a father whose educational philosophy consisted of "the child should pursue his own interests." [1] His furious creativity represents a kind of academic achievement that cannot result from mere drill.

[1] http://www.famoushomeschoolers.net/bio_demaine.html -- Yeah, I know it's an odd site. Early google result, matches what I remember of his story.

The problem with the super-strict parenting style described in the WSJ article is that it destroys passion. I'm not Chinese; I'm Indian. Nevertheless, I've seen a lot of this style of parenting applied to my peers.

The pernicious thing about this parenting style is that it appears to work very well for the first 18 years. Then, the child graduates from high-school, and goes to college. Some break down without the constraints imposed by hovering parents and constant scheduling. Some get pulled into the wrong crowds and end up doing questionable or illegal activities. But the most unlucky ones go through college just fine.

Why are these the most unlucky ones? Once they're done with the academic grind, they look around and have no goals. They never developed the ability to create their own goals - to be self directed. Not only is this a huge disadvantage in their personal lives, but it hurts job performance as well. No assignment at work is going to be as well defined as a school project. No manager will babysit these people as much their teachers and parents did. What ends up happening is that these people find themselves being surpassed by others who have less skill, as the others have much more self direction and the ability to push themselves without requiring external motivation.

I got a few emails about this... I'm not sure if anyone is following this thread any more, but I reckon I should clarify my views for posterity. Here's a reply I wrote -


Your positions there were good... I need to reflect and pick my words a lot more carefully when I write on something that touches people so closely like parenting. I am actually an admirer of the Chinese way except not the abusive jerk part of it. But I studied Chinese culture some - they're incredible. They move somewhere, dirt poor, and within 2-3 generations they're established, prosperous, educated, own businesses and real estate, have established families... I remember one time I was staying in a small inn in Amsterdam owned by a Chinese family, recent immigrants to the Netherlands. They'd rent all the rooms, and if every room got rented, the couple and their young son would go sleep in the lobby at midnight instead of their own room.

In the end, the place would only sell out maybe 10 nights per month, for a total of perhaps 800 euros per month for the inconvenience... but then that's about $12,000 USD per year they're banking by sacrificing their own comfort. Later, they'd for sure invest that into education, expanding in business, things like that. It's why Chinese are so successful anywhere.

But I should've stressed that I think the abusive and mean aspects of it are crap. I do think it's crap. But more self-sacrifice, achievement, duty, service... I don't know, I think America is way too far in the other direction. It's funny cuz I'm guessing our ideal parenting styles aren't very far apart. Lots of encouragement but also emphasizing it's not just do whatever makes you happy - delay gratification, serve worth causes, strive for more, better yourself, give your kids a much better life than you had, etc, etc.

> In his book, Agassi talks about hating tennis. He really does. His father, an immigrant to the USA from Iran, drilled tennis into him obsessively from a young age, constantly telling him he's going to be #1 in the world.

That tells something about the common wisdom that to succeed at anything, you have to love what you do. I'm talking just about results here, of course, not quality of living.

By your logic, Natascha Kampusch's astonishing spiritual triumph over a childhood spent in a dungeon becomes an argument for the salutariness of child abduction.

ryanwaggoner made the point I thought of when I read your comment, but I want to reinforce it.

For every success there will be 10 (or more) broken children who go through this "method". They will hate their parents. They will have a broken sense of self. They will not be socialized. They will have emotional problems, sometimes serious ones.

How do I know this? I've met the failed ones. I've never met a success from this method, either, and I'm 50.

The people that I've met that were a "success", were both smart, hard working and focused. And, they had one thing which is not praised much anymore: common sense.

I have known more smart people than I can count in my life. A fraction of them had much common sense or "life smarts". Yeah, they could run rings around me with their programming or math or whatever ability, but they often couldn't make a good decision to save their life.

Lastly, I'll say that whatever drive your child has, cultivate it. You cannot create drive, it either is or isn't.

Andre Agassi was addicted to meth for Pete's sake. This is a joke of an argument.

quote from original WSG article. "If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A." Do you want to do this to your child? It may be just me but WSG article looks like a well concealed satire on Chinese/Asian parenting :)

> I'm generally an admirer of the school of parenting laid out by Chua

Do you have any reply to this? http://fallibleideas.com/parenting-and-tradition

This might be a minor point, but being self-actualized means determining for yourself what's meaningful. Almost by definition, trying to be #1 isn't that, because you're basically living for #2, trying to get them to realize you're better. If you're #1 at something, and then suddenly everyone with a lower rank decides to stop trying to beat you and goes and does something else, you've got nothing. You depend on them to believe that the game is worth playing, and if they stop doing that, being #1 means nothing. You haven't achieved real meaning when you're dependent on other people to believe in it. That's why status is not the same as self-actualization.

I hope I don't sound too racist or anti-Semite.

Why is it that when a Jewish mother does the same as the Asian mother, no one complains?

I'm a Chinese btw.

No one complains ???? Have you not watched TV in the last 10 years? There are entire genres of comedy mostly devoted to jews complaining about their parents.

When art historians analyze late 20th and early 21st century culture, they will certainly coin the jewish-complaining art movement, which spanned television, movies and stand up comedy for like 30 years, and is still running strong with Curb your Enthusiasm.

It's also worth noting that this isn't a Jewish or Chinese phenomenon, it's an immigrant thing. There isn't much Jewish immigration to the US anymore, and cultural divisions aren't as sharp. There is, on the other hand, still strong emigration from China, which is why this behavior is now thought of as a "Chinese" phenomenon.

> No one complains ???? Have you not watched TV in the last 10 years? There are entire genres of comedy mostly devoted to jews complaining about their parents.

Was about to say that (as a Russian Jewish male), that if it weren't Jews complaining about their mothers, the literary and entertainment worlds would be far far poorer :-)

Chinese is the new Jewish.

Used to be there were quotas on how many Jews to let into Ivy league schools. Now that's applied to the Asian kids, with "diversity" as the excuse.

I'm also sure for every joke and stereotype of the Chinese mother, you can find an equivalent one about the Jewish mother.

One of my favorite MeFi comments on the original op-ed:

Dear Asian-Americans,

Thanks for taking over from us that stereotype of the overachieving, uncreative grind! Feel free to hand it off to someone else next generation. Should be pretty easy, since we're planning to pass you control of the media.


The Jews


No Jewish mother does what Chinese mothers do, according to the original article. I'm Jewish, by the way. No Jewish mom would deny her bubbeleh dinner. EVER. I'd like to add that I wish my parents would have pushed me more.

How did Jews become a part of this, anyway?

Not Jewish, but I went to school with a lot of kids from successful Jewish families of varying levels of religiosity.

I think at this point that the whole "overbearing Jewish parents" thing is more of a self-conscious joke than anything else, excepting perhaps some of the more religious Jewish families. I don't know if it's gotten to that point for Chinese-Americans yet.

Also, by "a Chinese," what do you mean? Is there any hyphenation after that, e.g. -American, -Canadian, -Hong Kong, -Malaysian? Or are you a mainlander? There's significant cultural differences.

I'm a Malaysian, for your info.

But most Chinese parents here rise their kids in pretty much the same ways as Amy Chua.

Tutoring everyday but that's only because there aren't many good jobs if you didn't have decent education.

You've never met any neurotic, therapy-prone Jews?

I wonder if this is partly due to these families growing their kids in a "foreign" country - Chinese in the US, Jews elsewhere.

These families feel their kids have to compete with the natives and may be at a disadvantage initially.

Once you get the safety of feeling at home -- this sort of behavior tends to disappear (Japan being the exception here.)

I wouldn't say that's true, "Jewish mother stereotype" has a full length Wikipedia article of its own, although it's an old stereotype.


Why single out Jews? Do you have any evidence that Jewish mothers do this in any sort of systematic way? Why not ask why when _any_ mother dies this, no one complains? And what makes you think they don't?

Not Jewish, but grew up with many Jewish friends - Their parents had high academic expectations but weren't anything close to "Asian Parents."

Chinese or ABC? other than physical appearance ABCs are no different then white Americans. Chinese in China are nothing like ABCs in America. ABCs are a disgrace to the Chinese race. How does it feel to look Chinese but can't even write in supposedly "your own language". They shouldn't even be called Chinese, they are Americans.

HN expects a higher level of argument than unsubstantiated claims and lazy categorical insults. Please raise your game.

I'm Chinese, personally I could never understand how anyone could be "proud" of being a member of 1/4 of the population of Earth, which is what Chinese basically means.

Watch more CCTV. You'll get a constant stream of subtle and not so subtle cues about how awesome and noble your heritage is and how your compatriots have been bullied by foreign powers throughout history.

Downvotes! Care to explain why?

Anecdote is not the singular form of data.

I can only venture a guess and say that Jewish people have always isolated themselves and their practices under the purposefully exclusive and secretive shroud of Judaism and all its tenets and customs.

As such, Jewish parenting practices don't fall under the harsh lens of scrutiny as does the more blatant and hand-wavy aspects of Asian parenting (the mother's "mean face" and public displays of superiority in the form of music recitals and such referred to in the article).

Just to throw this out there and give an actual Chinese mom perspective on this...

The two Chinese mothers I know well here in the U.S. (my wife and her cousin) both of whom were born and raised in China, both of whom have 2 children of about the same age as the original author and both of whom are similarly educated to the woman who wrote the original article this one is in response to, were disturbed by the message and methods presented. They found it abusive, excessive and wrong and have been mailing links to this to all of their friends in anger.

I've met people that were raised like that and they're broken.

They lack the volition to do things by themselves and are unable to make their own choices. I used to converse a lot with a girl brought up in this manner and if you asked the question: "why" a lot about the things she did or was about to do (like planning to go to a particular college) you would ultimately end up with: "I don't know".

Also I would bet that those kids are bullied to at least some extent at school. They would have been at mine at least. :D

From that WSJ article:

"What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it."

I always thought it was your unlikely to get good at anything that you don't find fun.

There's truth in both articles. While I had lots of fun as a kid I certainly wish I was better at more things. Although with that said, most of the things I wish I was better at are probably things Chinese mothers wouldn't really push: basketball, dancing, drawing/art, and piano (this they clearly do support).

But parenting is hard. At the end of the day, if my kids are happy, nice, respectful, and can afford the things they want, I'll be happy for them.

There's clearly some correlation between Chua's approach and 'success' as it is narrowly defined within an academic spectrum. However, in practice I think such methods discourage failure so strongly that the children grow up to choose only the narrow paths which guarantee success, and don't explore outwards.

My sisters are in high school and it is one of those overachiever schools. They say a lot of their friends are nervous wrecks because of pressure their parents put on them about getting into a top college, and a lot of kids actually turn to drugs for that reason.

Best retort I've seen, of this:


Am I the only one who thought that Amy Chua's article was more than a little 'tongue in cheek'?

Excellent response. Well balanced and honest.

Just my couple of cents worth of first hand input...

Most Chinese families aren't crazy-obsessed with achievement - I'd say about 1/4 of them exhibit this kind of insane behavior, but that's still a very, very high rate, which is where this stereotype comes from. The rest are similar to their high-achieving white counterpart families.

Just as a data point, my two parents (two MDs and one PhD, yeah, it could have been real, real bad) weren't like this. I had a very normal childhood. I did all the things that white kids do.

I would like to bring up a possibility, which is possibly controversial: a lot of these kids let themselves be trampled on by their parents. In addition to (probably) being bullied at school, they are bullied at home by their parents. I really wish they would do more to stand up for themselves. They can't be blamed, though, as their will has been systematically removed by the parents in most cases.

Overall, this whole thing is a great example of very smart people doing very stupid things.

A not unrelated issue is the high rate of Asian American girls/women who refuse to date and marry Asian guys. It's so blindingly obvious as to why, I'm surprised anyone ever has to ask the question.

"I would like to bring up a possibility, which is possibly controversial: a lot of these kids let themselves be trampled on by their parents. In addition to (probably) being bullied at school, they are bullied at home by their parents. I really wish they would do more to stand up for themselves."

I can imagine that only someone who has never been through years of systematic abuse / bullying would lay the blame on the victim.

> I can imagine that only someone who has never been through years of systematic abuse / bullying would lay the blame on the victim.

I'm Chinese and I know plenty of folks who went through this abuse. I know many kids who did stand up to the abuse - and as a kid who stood up to my parents (and whose parents changed because of it), I despise this horrible stereotype and wish more kids would muster the constitution to fight it.

You can only imagine nothing. If you weren't brought up in or witness to this kind of environment I don't even really know how you can make conclusions in your imagination about me.

I'm not Chinese, but I was abused for 7 years by a member of my own family. It wasn't until 8 years after it stopped that I finally plucked up the courage to tell someone about it. That someone can sit there and say that it happened because I didn't stand up for myself, and then go on to defend that view when pulled up on it, deeply bothers me.

Just because you're Chinese, or "know someone who was abused", doesn't mean you know what it's like to be that kind of victim. It's fuck all to do with not having "the constitution to fight it" and everything to do with being destroyed from the inside out.

Good for you for having the guts to fight it though, eh?

I would like to bring up a possibility, which is possibly controversial: a lot of these kids let themselves be trampled on by their parents.

What are they supposed to do when they are beaten and locked out of the house for 24 hours with no food to eat?

A not unrelated issue is the high rate of Asian American girls/women who refuse to date and marry Asian guys. It's so blindingly obvious as to why, I'm surprised anyone ever has to ask the question.

Your hypothesis is incorrect. Asian females greatly prefer middle eastern, and whites over asian males. Both of which presumably do not have a background of strict parenting.


> What are they supposed to do when they are beaten and locked out of the house for 24 hours with no food to eat?

Is this a serious question?

If that happens, you call the cops like the victim of any other kind of assault. I have a friend who did this and had dad arrested and taken to court. It worked phenomenally well - she was never beat ever again - wonder why?!

> Both of which presumably do not have a background of strict parenting

Nah bro, your reading is incorrect, not my hypothesis.

That's my point. Having an Asian significant other would be too much of a reminder of their shitty upbringing, or they irrationally believe they would be somehow subjecting their own kids to the same experience. I personally think it's a post traumatic stress reaction.

If that happens, you call the cops like the victim of any other kind of assault.

Like any other assault, you need proof that abuse actually happened and you just didn't slip and fall. And how is a 8 year old kid supposed to know? Also what about the threats to bring them to China, free to beat them as much as they like, if they told the police? (And yes all this actually happened).

That's my point. Having an Asian significant other would be too much of a reminder of their shitty upbringing

Maybe that's true to a small extent, but the statistics from Okcupid shows that skin color is a much greater factor.

> Maybe that's true to a small extent, but the statistics from Okcupid shows that skin color is a much greater factor.

Dude, you are confusing the effect for the cause.

LOL I don't even know if they have a name for that kind of logical fallacy.

If your hypothesis was correct, the response rate from asian females to asian males would be much lower than the asian male average.

If that happens, you call the cops

Just because one child did it, doesn't mean all children can. Heck, even adults can't sometimes. Haven't you ever heard of Stockholm syndrome? Or battered wife syndrome? Going up against someone who has power over you is hard.

I sure have, look at my other comments in the thread.

And I agree, it's hard, and not everyone can do it.

> A not unrelated issue is the high rate of Asian American girls/women who refuse to date and marry Asian guys. It's so blindingly obvious as to why, I'm surprised anyone ever has to ask the question.

Y'know, I'm not so convinced that that's it. I think people of a different genetic background as ourselves are naturally appealing to some extent, but dating/marrying outside of any race is largely taboo. Asian woman/Caucasian man is socially acceptable right now, but I think a lot more of it is going to happen going forwards.

If China continues its ascendancy into an empire, I'd predict more Chinese man/Caucasian woman parings going forwards. The numbers already bare out that mixed race parings have been increasing at quite a high rate. With the skewed gender ratios, increasing Chinese wealth, and most likely international emergence of Chinese arts and culture and sex symbols... I think there's going to be a significant increase of Eastern European woman/Chinese man and Caucasian American/Chinese parings coming in the very near future.

> I think people of a different genetic background as ourselves are naturally appealing to some extent

Being open to dating people other than your race is completely different than outright refusal to date any people of your own or a similar race. One is a normal modern mindset and the other is some kind of post traumatic mental reaction.

A commonly cited factor is the lower status of women in the culturally defined relationship that drives some women to seek partners who do not share that cultural preference. In some cultures, the wife is subservient not only to the husband but also to the husband's family. A desire to escape this, perhaps even a subconscious desire may drive some of the cross cultural mate seeking behavior more directly.

Indeed, look at Dr. Chua's family- she married someone outside of her culture and continues to pursue the "Chinese parent" mindset with vigor.

exactly, the author of that blog post Jean Hsu married a white guy

I am sorry, the WSJ article seemed like a lot of trolling to me. It never touched on the subject of why Chinese mothers are allegedly "superior" at bringing up "better" or "more successful" children (whatever that may be). Instead it took a long and round-about way of justifying why indeed Chinese mothers are "a superior" to their kids whom they seem to constantly boss around - with the best intentions.

I think Jean Hsu was spot on in her article, however: all this commanding and strict parenting just has to REALLY numb down the kid's initiative and will to "play" and "explore", try new things and learn on their own.

This may sound very harsh but for me, this bossing around just creates busy drones at best and at worst those kids will be very, very much lacking any orientation, motivation, initiative and a unique personality of sorts.

How can you find happiness on your own when the close bond with the person who has been controlling your life for 20, 25 years is suddenly gone?

I'm sorry for going OT and I know this isn't reddit but it has to be said because everyone knows that...

> Japanese girls are superior!

Goto China and meet real Chinese. ABCs are not real Chinese. They are bananas. Yellow on the outside, White on the inside.

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