Challenging Chua

Dear Ms. Chua,

Like you, I am Chinese. I was born in Manila, with parents like yours, raised like you…

But unlike you, I vowed to be a very different parent from my parents.

I never said, “I am right and you will obey me because I am your mother”.

I taught myself to say, “Mother does not know,” and “I am sorry. Mother is wrong.”

I encouraged my daughter to enjoy all the things my parents would not allow, sleepovers, school plays, and yes, dating.

She missed school to watch the Oscars. Super Mario was bonding time

I wanted her to be a drummer, but to my disappointment, she wanted to play the piano. No, not classical music. “Close To You” by The Carpenters! Do you know how difficult it is to find a piano teacher who will teach pop music to a toddler?

She can barely read music notes, and will never play Chopin at Carnegie Hall, but even now, she will play the piano just to relax.

And yes, she turned out all right. She scored 2340 on the SAT, 60 points off perfect, and got accepted by Harvard, Princeton and Yale. Am I proud of her? Absolutely! But what really matters to me is that she grew up to be warm and kind, with an easygoing, unassuming demeanor.

I did not push. I encouraged. And I loved unconditionally.

Good Chinese Mother

P.S. You do not have to be Ms. Chua to leave a comment. : )

1) If you want to make your children practice piano, read “Reluctant Role Models”. In fact, read it if you want them to do what you want.
2) If you want to stop arguing about bed time, and bath time, read “Do I Have To Take A Bath” and “Why Do I Have To Go To Bed Now”.
3) If you want to deal with a bully in school, read “The Prince From Senegal” but do not do what I did. You can get in serious trouble.
4) If you need to explain Santa Claus, read “Letter From Santa Claus”. Just make sure you can make up stories as you go.
5) If you like museums, and your children do not, read “Treasure Hunt”. The museum shops will love you.
6) When being the best is not good enough, go to “The Six O’Clock News”. Unlike Chua, I think watching television can be educational!
7) If you have an inquisitive child, check out “Why Is The Sky Blue?”
8) If your child asks you for the moon and the stars, do not read “Unforseen Dividends”. You will be tempted to give them.
9) If you are a bilingual family, “Relax, Mom” is for you.
10) If you do not like what your daughter is wearing, “Making Of A Fashion Icon” will make you feel better.
11) If you are battling bureaucracy, copy my tactics in “There Is Always A First Time”.
12)If you want to know why I will never regret being a stay-at-home mom, find out in “Just Like Mommy”. Be sure the tissue box is within reach.
13) Is your child the new kid on the block? See how we managed in “Tears On The Agenda”.
14) Need help with making decisions? Take your cue from “The Step Forward”.
15) Life not going as planned? “Pile Of Horse Droppings” is for you.

Good Chinese Mother’s mantra: educate, encourage, enforce, evaluate

Educate – give precise instructions, show by example
Encourage – praise when done right
Enforce – make sure it is done right
Evaluate – if the child fails, ask yourself what YOU DID WRONG


About Us

I gave up a lucrative and fulfilling career to become a full-time mother to a daughter who has grown into a lovely young woman. She once remarked on how I was such an excellent witness to her life. She was referring to the scrapbooks I gave her when she graduated from elementary school and middle school. I was planning on giving her another scrapbook upon graduation from high school, but I decided to write an essay instead. And I could not stop with one essay. All the memories simply came rushing in like a tidal wave, and I wrote at a frantic pace, frightened that I would forget.

I thought of her high school graduation as the day of my retirement from motherhood. I was always going to be her mother, and I was always going to be around to support her, but it was time to reinvent myself yet again.
After seventeen years of staying at home, and against all odds, I have since rejoined the workforce as an institutional dining facility manager. I find myself with a career again, and yet, there is something strangely missing in my life. The work is challenging and rewarding. I look forward to each day, but working again has confirmed to me that I made the right choice in being a full-time mother. I could not have balanced a career and motherhood. I would have shortchanged my daughter. Working has also made me realize that the seventeen years I spent being a mother were the best years of my life, and that those years will never be surpassed by anything.

Here is our story.