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


103 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. cam
    Jan 13, 2011 @ 22:13:44

    I was intrigued by Chua’s essay, but I am glad to hear a more moderate approach might work too! Work hard and play hard, perhaps?


    • haha
      Jan 13, 2011 @ 23:23:11

      Many thanks for the comment.

      Like Chua, my parents are Filipino-born Chinese. I was raised like her…no playdates…no dance parties…and I hated it.

      I vowed to be a different mother…

      A Chinese mother who loved the American way…


  2. arthur hu
    Jan 13, 2011 @ 23:16:37

    thanks for the Asian Week comment – but you still pushed your children into a top 10 college (doh, I only got in to MIT and Stanford, and none of our next generation has scored – yet)


    • haha
      Jan 13, 2011 @ 23:26:02

      And thank you for the comment.

      There is a fine line between push and encourage. Chua pushed, and I encouraged.

      Encouraging requires more creativity.


  3. Drake NYC
    Jan 14, 2011 @ 04:16:42

    I was very moved by your ‘love like an American mother” comment on WSJ online that I felt compelled to visit your site.

    Though I”m Anglo, I was in band and would marvel at strings section were 3/4 Asian in Michigan High School in 1986. Beyond talented. But the kids always seemed distant and afraid that they’d be caught talking to ‘an outsider’. Not much for talking in the lunchroom. I felt a little sad for them as Western kids were going off on pop culture and the latest fad.

    Please continue to blog. I really enjoy hearing the other side of this issue.
    peace, Drake


    • haha
      Jan 14, 2011 @ 19:53:17


      Thanks for the comment. Not very politically correct to say that I loved like an American mom, but I grew up on American pop culture, and I always envied the friendship I perceived between American mothers and their daughters.

      I loved…continue to love…my daughter…unconditionally…

      good chinese mother


  4. Jeremy
    Jan 14, 2011 @ 05:18:51

    hi there – good to see the flip side of the WSJ piece (which was very funny but a bit scary too)

    my brother and i are new dads and he emailed me the piece i guess because we were raised very western style

    now i’m reading your site with interest

    i aim to take something from both sides of this coin in parenting – help the child find what they are good at/interested in and then use some good strong (Chinese?) encouragement to push them to back themselves to get results

    one difference to this that i see is that many Chinese parents seem very focused on certain career paths (and musical instruments!) as if they are pursuing status instead of a satisfying vocation (i would support finding a vocation or at least a satisfying field of work, or being aware of their responsibilities to pay their own way and provide for themselves)



    • haha
      Jan 14, 2011 @ 20:19:39

      Hi, Jeremy.

      I am a voracious reader, and I tried to learn how to become a good parent from books. It was before the dawn of the internet. : )

      To be honest, parenting frightened me. After all, there is no rewind or restart button. I had a plan for every scenario. I knew exactly what I was going to do on the day my daughter asks to dye her hair green! I had memorized my speech while she was still a baby!

      I had no doubt we would disagree about anything and everything, but I vowed never to say,

      “I am your mother, and you have to obey me.”

      It was tough, especially when I did not agree with her, but I always let her decide.

      As to encouragement, I would like to think I was extremely creative.

      Do let me know what you think of my methods.


  5. Lori
    Jan 14, 2011 @ 13:56:53

    This is a wonderful idea for a blog.


    • haha
      Jan 14, 2011 @ 21:47:01

      Many thanks, Lori.

      It all started with one essay, my high school graduation gift to her. And I just could not stop writing. I laughed and I cried. And I wished we could do it all over!

      Good Chinese Mother


  6. Jessica
    Jan 14, 2011 @ 18:21:07

    I too stopped working at a lucrative career to become a full-time mom.

    My oldest is 18 today, and is on his way to one of his top college choices next year, despite a fairly serious memory disability.

    I have always allowed my children to choose their paths and activities, unless it interferes with academics (it never has). I don’t always enjoy the activities they choose – soccer for instance – but I try to get them the best instruction I can afford. For that, I expect them to practice, but I don’t force them. They have all slowly narrowed their interests to what they feel they can manage well.

    My youngest is 13. He has the opportunity to be superior in any of three activities, or very good in all three. When we discussed it, he understood the choice and he chooses to be very good in all three as opposed to outstanding in one thing. He understands the consequences and is fine with that.

    Every once in a while, I find myself pushing, but then I remember a boy from swimming (he is Philippine-American). He had already had a national best time for his age at one point. His father kept pushing. Swimming wasn’t fun for him anymore. He started throwing races. I talked to him and I asked him what would make him want to race at a certain level. His response was chilling. If he won, he wanted his father to take him to a movie and to talk about anything but swimming. He wanted his father to see him “as his son, not just as a swimmer” (his words, not mine). I told him to tell his father that he had already achieved what few people achieve in their lifetimes – being the recognized best at something – and that everything else was just gravy (so to speak). Fast forward two years. The boy’s mother and sister were both dying of a chronic illness, the father and I had a conversation about the son’s swimming, and the father said” there are more important things than swimming. J____ has already had a national best time, everything he does from now on is its own reward (or something like that).” The boy had clearly talked to his dad, and the family illness had reminded his dad of what really matters – relationships.

    Congratulations to your daughter. I hope she enjoys college.



    • haha
      Jan 14, 2011 @ 21:54:27

      Hi, Jessica.

      Thank you for reading my blog, and for the comment.

      I never thought I would be a stay-at-home mom. I took a leave of absence from work, and I had every intention of going back to work, but a few days after coming back home from the hospital, while I watched M sleeping, I felt like I had seen a huge neon sign.

      And it said,

      “Being her mother is the greatest career you will ever have!”

      And yes, it has been…continues to be…

      Good Chinese Mother


  7. Guest
    Jan 14, 2011 @ 19:16:33

    Something I was taught was to make the best of every situation. If my parents dragged me and my brother to a museum we did not want to go to, my brother and I would talk. This way, they exposed us to the world without cramming it down our throats.


    • haha
      Jan 14, 2011 @ 21:59:15

      Hi there.

      Thank you for the comment. You must have read “Treasure Hunt”.

      I was really desperate to get my daughter to like museums, especially during the really hot summer days, and the freezing winter months.

      And one of my favourite sayings to her,

      “Make the best lemon juice out of the lemons in life.”

      Good Chinese Mom


  8. M
    Jan 14, 2011 @ 19:29:48

    Like you, I was appalled by Chua’s article. My parents never pushed me to do anything I didn’t want to. I was the one who begged for music lessons on two instruments. I was the one who begged to be tested for the gifted and talented math program. I was the one who wanted to be involved in science competitions and win national awards. I wanted to do well on the SAT’s. I wanted to take university classes in high school. I wanted to be able to attend top-tier universities. And I accomplished all of these things. I owe so much to my parents for this success, not because they pushed me towards it, but because they allowed me to find my own goals and supported me unconditionally in reaching them. It is easy to force your own ambitions for success on your children, but it requires much more maturity as a parent to support them in achieving success by their own standards. Children who are forced by their parents to do things that they don’t want to do will ultimately be unsuccessful. I know several people at my (Ivy League) university who were unreasonably oppressed by their parents, and are now rebelling by drinking and partying all their talent and potential away. Thank you for showing that not all Asian parents are the same.


    • haha
      Jan 15, 2011 @ 20:35:28

      M, thank you reading my blog.

      I wrote my essays several years ago, and I am only calling attention to them by challenging Chua because I really do believe that if academic excellence is the ultimate goal, there are methods that do not involve screams, shouts and threats. In her book, it does seem that Chua has come to understand that as well.

      My daughter was very much like you, and my reputation suffered severely. I was perceived by everyone as the “pushy” Asian mother. People found it hard to believe that a 9th grader would attend college information sessions without parental prodding.

      When the counselor saw the list of colleges my daughter was applying to, he asked her if “mom” was making her choices. I was deeply offended, and thought to give him a piece of my mind. My daughter, however, asked me to let her handle the situation. She had a long talk with the counselor, and he was convinced that mom was indeed not making the decisions. To be fair, after their talk, he spared no effort to assist her.

      I guess it is just really difficult for most adults to understand that anyone so young is capable of really knowing what he/she wants. I have always treated my daughter as an adult, and it looks like your parents did, too.

      On my behalf, give them huge pats on the back!

      Good Chinese Mom


  9. Sagnik
    Jan 14, 2011 @ 19:58:11

    Hi Madam,

    While I have no idea about chinese parenting (other than Mrs Chua’s article and yours), a lot of parents (Especially the ones in lower middle class) in India do use the same techniques. I would think that it depends more on the child- not all children are internally driven go-getters and you do need to apply some degree of strictness to them. There is no single formula to raise a child- it all depends on that particular child and you have to find the right way to train him or her.

    And to put things in perspective, people in China and India do not enjoy the same basic amenities like people in US. A lot of US kids can afford to be what they want, because the worst that they might end up is unemployed with unemployment benefits. In India, the focus is always on survival- you get a job, you earn money to sustain yourself- because the worst that you can end up in India is without any means and starving to death.


    • haha
      Jan 15, 2011 @ 21:45:43

      Dear Sagnik,

      I am ethnically Chinese, and I do think I am a product of Chinese parenting. I was quite unhappy as a child, and having grown up with American pop culture, I often found myself envious of the friendship between Western mothers and their daughters. When I became a mother, I vowed to never parent like my parents.

      It is absolutely true that we should match our parenting with our children. And that is exactly why I chose not to be like my parents. I wanted to listen to my daughter, to her words and to her actions, so I could be the right mother to her. I did not see the value of pushing her towards excellence when she pushed herself the hardest.

      My daughter is a humanities concentrator, and it is often a cause of awkward silence amongst my Asian friends. They are always extremely impressed by the fact that she is attending an Ivy League college, but as soon as they hear that she is not an economics, finance, or science concentrator, the practical areas of study, they quickly lose their enthusiasm. I can clearly see their thoughts…an unemployable Ivy degree holder…

      On the other hand, she received much flak from her Western educators for limiting her choices to Ivy League colleges. They failed to understand that she is going back to a part of the world where only an Ivy degree would open most doors.

      So, yes, there is a clash of culture, ideas and values. And my daughter is firmly caught in the center.

      Thank you for reading my blog. Please continue to let me know your thoughts.

      Good Chinese Mother


    Jan 15, 2011 @ 03:26:26

    Dear Good Chinese Mother,

    I am completely amazed by you. You have become everything as a mother, it seems, that I wish and hope to one day many, many, year from now to be.

    What people like Amy Chua must not understand or remember is the resentment we feel towards our parents when we are raised the “Chinese” way. As a teenage girl who has experienced a milder form of Chua’s parenting style and witness my friends receive similar treatment I can say firsthand its scarring, emotionally scarring, when you are called worthless and garbage and many things that are worse.

    I must admit my friends and I are brilliant and top of our classes here in the US, where we were all born, I don’t think our parenting was correct. I’m only 15, but I’m also old enough to know the facts about my own life and how kids are affected by “Chinese parenting”. It works; the system works. We ARE brilliant students and/or musical prodigies but it’s because perfection has been drilled into our heads since birth. Trying isn’t enough, and results are all that matter, these are they words we’ve lived our lives by.

    And while I KNOW for a fact my parents love me, they love me so greatly and deeply and just want to make sure I succeed, it’s easy to lose sight of that. They have never shown it they way you have so obviously shown, something I have always ached for. I thought at a time I legitimately hated my parents or that they hated me. Our relationship wasn’t healthy growing up; it still isn’t. What is so sad is that Chua and many parents don’t realize what they’re doing, who they’re hurting. But you manged to either see it or remember well wnough not to let the cycle continue.

    I firmly believe the woman is crazy but I understand her way. She is so convinced her children can do ANYTHING is pushed hard enough. She believes in them more deeply then most “western parents” believe in their kids at times; but her judgment and views are clouded. This I think is one of the greatest conflicts I felt growing up. I rebelled against the way I was raised. I fought it and yelled and screamed at times. And now at the age where I am a young adult who knows who I am for the most part, my morals are set, I firmly against the way I was raised. But I love my parent non the less, because they love me more than anything whether they always show it or not. Because they helped me at times I did’t even realize, and because they are a part of me.

    One of my greatest regrets though is that in establishing who I am and making a stand on that to my parents, I’ve made them believe they have failed me somehow. They honestly believe in many ways that my stand against perfection and my strong beliefs in creativity and expression mean that they have failed me as parents and although I try to show them that they haven’t failed me in any way and that if anything their crazy parenting has indeed made me a stronger person they still don’t see it as I do. I love my parent so very much but their parenting style like Chua’s isn’t what young children need to grow and be nurtured. And you’re site here gives me hope I’m not the only Asian child that thought so and went against it.

    I just want to say in its own way they fact you raised a daughter they way you did, loving unconditionally, when you grow up they way you did, is inspiring. I really hope when I grow up I can do the same. My parents and I never had the bond that so many of my western friends and their parents did, but maybe one day I’ll grow up and be different. And anyway I also think its amazingly sweet of you to write have written all those essay’s to you daughter.


  11. Finn
    Jan 15, 2011 @ 13:58:57


    I have read your comments on the website and just wanted to say how I absolutely agree with your parenting approach. My parents have also always been very supportive and I am very grateful for all their time, dedication and love.

    As a child if I was told why I could or could not do something, they would not just say “no you can’t do that”, but rather explain why (that is so important!).

    When it came to education, there was a very encouraging environment at home. I was allowed to do most things children do when they grow up including watching TV (although in my case I was more interesting in the news than cartoons), but in terms of education nothing was compulsory, it was rather self-driven.

    Thank you for your inspiring blog entry, congratulations on your daughter’s achievements and well done for giving her such a balanced upbringing.



    • haha
      Jan 20, 2011 @ 06:10:53


      Thank you for reading my blog.

      Parenting is daunting. No such thing as a rewind or restart button.

      Your parents seem to have done very well! On my behalf, do give them a pat on the back.



  12. cpc
    Jan 15, 2011 @ 16:01:06

    what i loved about the guardian article about ms chua ( was the fact that her younger daughter defeated her. i accepted that my elder child would defy me from pretty much the moment she popped out of the womb, and it’s made me (mostly) a happier person. the guardian piece is worth a read, because she does, eventually, seem a little nicer than the first paragraph suggests. i still prefer your approach, though, goodchinesemother!


    • haha
      Jan 20, 2011 @ 06:16:21

      Thank you, cpc.

      One of these days, I will write about the “I Hate Mommy” writing I found on the window sill when M was six years old. Do you think she was merely practicing her writing skills?



  13. E
    Jan 15, 2011 @ 22:47:06

    Dk if you’ve been asked this but are you japanese or chinese??


    • haha
      Jan 21, 2011 @ 09:36:14

      Hello, E.

      Chinese or Japanese? Both.

      Where are you from…I always have difficulty answering that question…

      Modern day nomad…that is me…



  14. sam
    Jan 16, 2011 @ 00:48:01

    I kept pondering why Chua wouldn’t allow her children to learn anything other than violin and piano. Woah, she would frown at mine. One of mine does a traditional chinese instrument and excels at it – not from being pushed but from being praised.

    How many children do you have? Hey, and not fair … none of mine wanted to sleep much! ;D


    • haha
      Jan 20, 2011 @ 06:22:12

      Hi, Sam.

      I have but one daughter. I doubt I could have raised more than one child. Surprising really that I managed to raise one.

      M had piano lessons for years, but she can barely read music notes. She plays The Carpenters to relax, and every once in a while, we will break into a song.

      She learned to play the Japanese taiko as well, and as usual, I joined her. Now that was a challenge for me. Not as easy as it looks like.

      And to this day, she likes sleeping.



  15. Celestial
    Jan 16, 2011 @ 00:56:41

    Nice. I know so may cool Chinese people from Hong Kong that remind me of you. I have a deep and abiding love and respect for Chinese, and Asian, culture and philosophy – I’ve always liked Zhuangzhi better than Confucius.


    • haha
      Jan 17, 2011 @ 22:22:25

      Hi, Celestial.

      Thank you! I am obviously not Chinese enough! No clue who is Zhuangzhi! Will check him out.

      Good Chinese Mother


  16. Robin
    Jan 16, 2011 @ 04:13:32

    I’m Taiwanese-American, and I find it very relieving that ur blog is on the Internet. It is a great way to show that not all Asian parents are Amy Chua. My mother, for one, both taught and showed respect. She explained, for instance, why she didn’t want me to go to parties (she felt that it wasn’t safe, especially if alcohol is involved), instead of saying, “Obey me, stop asking why!” It was more, “As long as you are living under my house, you must follow my rules.” Yet she never once yelled at me or called me names in the event I did violate them. My respect for her had gotten to a point where all she needed to say was, “Where were you?” or give a look, and I’d know I was in trouble. I understood her point of view, and did my best to adapt to that in a way that worked for both of us (for ex. By letting her know where I was if I planned on going out) and she didn’t even have to call me “garbage” to get that from me.


    • haha
      Jan 20, 2011 @ 06:32:25

      Hi, Robin.

      Like your mother, I had the “look”. M knew exactly when she was in trouble.

      Parenting is really all about establishing the boundaries, and making it known, isn’t it?

      I really did not expect M to follow rules she did not know, and as much as possible, we discussed and negotiated.

      Had you been there when we discussed curfew, you would have thought we were opposing diplomats at the UN!



  17. Adelle Chua
    Jan 16, 2011 @ 09:59:09

    Hi, Good Chinese Mother! I was led to your site when I was reading the comments to Ms. Chua’s WSJ article. I request permission to mention your blog entry, Challenging Chua, in an article I am writing about it for a Manila broadsheet. (My column is archived in my blog).
    I am a single mom to kids aged 16, 15, 10 and 8. Thank you for your insights!


    • haha
      Jan 20, 2011 @ 06:35:47

      Hi, Adelle.

      Thanks for mentioning me in your blog.

      Never really thought I would be blogging. I am what you would call technologically challenged.



  18. The Chinese girl
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 01:39:26

    Thank you for having a voice for Chinese Americans. Thank you for standing for American culture and help preventing more people who are boarder-liner being swayed into electing an incorrect parenting methodology.

    It is very disturbing to read what Ms. Chua wrote, it is indeed scary to think about and go to bed even! No wonder her guest would cry. I cannot picture a mean mother like her in my life. I am a Chinese girl who embraces the best of the both worlds (America and Taiwan)… My dad is overbearing, and my mom is overly nice… I do believe in retaining self-identification (American way) and self-worth (Chinese way). When has self-worth turned into self-abuse? I can’t help and question this. What Ms. Chua suggested is clearly to all people, whether you chose to admit or not, a way of abusing self and others. It is great that parents are very involved in children’s lives, and we all know it is hard to accomplish that without having established trust and great relationship in general. However, having forced one to obey in order to listen, would not only be lying to one’s self, it is perhaps wrong and may lead to bad consequences. The most common examples are suicide and a sense of lack of belief for equality/no-quality needed (leads to racism). What people have responded to WSJ Chua’s postscript cover these two possibilities, but they did not highlight and consolidate the points. Over parenting in America or any where in the world lead to children wanting to withdraw, fighting with the thoughts to withdraw from others, and you don’t need scientific proves for this. People are made of flesh and we pain.

    While Chua’s article is written with a voice — she addresses that voice being a mix humor and exaggeration — there is no doubt she is arrogant and cold. We don’t need more parents like this in the world, we need more people with kindness and grace and with willingness to help/willingness to do something great for self and all for the greater pubic good — having children being isolated from others, and believing in only one systematic way of behaving don’t help demonstrate qualities like those or raise creative free thinkers. While success and fame do not define greatness, for Ms. Chua who so seek for attention, you wonder why you are a professor rather than a CEO? (I am an electrical engineer/patent law student.)


    • haha
      Jan 20, 2011 @ 06:42:24

      Thank you for reading my blog The Chinese girl.

      Although I grew up on American pop culture, I doubt it is enough to qualify me to be a Chinese American. There are times when I wonder if I am even really Chinese. I only speak a dialect, and I have never been to China, and I am not even really sure that I know the culture.

      I do know though that my parents tried to keep me Chinese, or whatever it is that they consider Chinese, and I rebelled against that like crazy!



  19. Deborah
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 13:27:01


    I would like to commend you on taking a different path on raising your children. I currently live in Korea, and I remember staring at a classroom of elementary school students and feeling sorry for them because I knew they’re lives were going to end in a couple years once they entered middle school and the rigorous Korean academic system.

    I would also like to encourage you to do more research. I came upon this article ( and it comments on how only excerpts were taken out of Ms. Chua’s book and that her book is about a journey, not an approach. The article tells that throughout the books she learns that her mother’s way is not necessarily the best way so in actuality, she is parenting more like you now after having her “Aha moment”.

    Keep up the good work, though!!


    • haha
      Jan 17, 2011 @ 22:17:50

      Hello, Deborah.
      Thank you for reading my blog, and leaving a comment.

      Yes, I have read the article by Jeff Yang, and I have finished reading Chua’s book. I find it reassuring to know she eventually understood that other than hysterics and threats, there are better methods to achieving academic and musical excellence.

      I am extremely fortunate I had my “AHA” moment before M came into the world.

      Good Chinese Mother


  20. elleonthego
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 22:03:07

    I expect most children raised in this way rebel sooner or later. I’m not chinese but the system she uses is not far of the way my mother treated me.
    It doesn’t make for happy children or adults. I had to learn to shake off all the labels and the fear.
    With my children, I am the complete opposite. I want them to feel loved and have the confidence to find their strengths and thus give their best.


    • haha
      Jan 20, 2011 @ 07:00:07

      Hi, Ellen.

      I knew while I was growing up that I did not want to parent like my parents, and I am so thankful I had the strength to fall into the pattern of acting like them.

      I am quite certain though that my parenting has left scars on my daughter, and I can only hope the unconditional love I have given her will make those scars easier to live with.



  21. parenting ad absurdum
    Jan 18, 2011 @ 00:50:32

    This is lovely and moving argument against Chua’s take on Western parenting. And thanks for dropping by to see me!


    • haha
      Jan 20, 2011 @ 07:01:51

      I simply had to say something, and that is why I am blogging. Never really thought I would be doing this.

      And thank you for dropping by to see me!



  22. Arthur Hu
    Jan 18, 2011 @ 04:17:54

    Man I’ve seen your comments across the planet, far more than my Asian week post, so I’ll share it here too: I’ll have to admit my family of 7 survived our Asian parents who sent us all to MIT and Stanford from Renton. I spotted very few timid defences and weak admiration in a sea of “OMG, she’s not kdding” are “she may well be nuts”, “f*** you Amy Chua” “is it too late to call Child Protective Services”, ” Jewish mother “how could you marry such a heartless shicksa”. Ironic Chua is the same law professor warning about the worldwide persecution of the “Market dominant minority” after her relatives in the Phillipines were murdered by their ungrateful servants who lived in tin shacks. This is hardly going to help the popularity of the Model Minority.

    What prince is going to dare ask out her daughter after they google the prospective mother in law from hell? He’s going find Madam Chiang Dowager Empress who used Chinese Music Practice Torture as boot camp training for the College Board Long March whose motto may well be “We love Ivy League diplomas more than you Americans love happy life”. This woman could clearly bring U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey of recent Geico commerical fame to tears if he were unfortunate enough to have her as his mother. Man I’d love to see that Death Match. Or send her to Guantanamo for enhanced interrogation of prisoners.

    I think Asian Americans can ultimately thank Amy Chua for bringing the nightmare of “Crazy Asian Mother sees B+” out of the shadows of the ethnic inside Youtube joke and “Sorry I can’t, my parents are Asian” facebook group into a feature-length book. Malcolm X was best remembered for scaring the hell out of white folks, but what most people miss is his condemnation of the “predatory” culture of crime and irresponsibility that had taken over African Americans. Similarly Asians perhaps suffer from the opposite sickness of placing the false god of material success above basic happiness and getting along with others in the face of ethnic cleansing in places like South Philadelphia High School where the restless masses are taught to believe success lies in using “any means neccesary” against “The Man”, or in this case the “China Man”. It’s about time Asians Americans noticed, stopped just joking about it and decide “My God, we need to stop treating our kids this way” (from


  23. Cherry
    Jan 18, 2011 @ 04:56:12

    Dear GCM

    I read most of your essays on you parenting styles and ways.

    I’m ethnic Chinese and I grew up the Chinese way, the mummy knows best way. Half way through my growing up years, my mum decided that the Chinese way is not the best method to teach growing teens. She began to let me have my way. If I wanted to watch tv till late, then so be it. She taught me to be in control of my own life, in her own way, silently watching. I said I wanted to quit piano and she let me without any protests. I was truly surprised but appreciated that she did that because she wanted me to find my own way in life, it is my life and not hers. She was always there to guide me whenever I needed to guidance.

    Today, I ask her why didn’t she push me harder to excel in my studies and be the top of the class (I’ve always been 2nd but never 1st). She says in her most Chinese accent – not good to be 1st, let someone else be 1st, you did not miss anything for not being 1st.

    Now, as I am embarking to another phase of my life (will be tying the knot in May) and if God permits, children will follow suit…I am certain of my parenting style, that is of my mother’s.


    • haha
      Jan 18, 2011 @ 05:09:25


      Your comment brought tears to my eyes. You are blessed to have a mother like yours. She knew exactly how to be the right mother for you. On my behalf, please give her a huge pat on the back!

      I wish you the best as you begin another journey in your life. I have no doubts you will be a good mother (who happens to be Chinese). You have a great role model.



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  26. Another Chinese Mom
    Jan 18, 2011 @ 23:55:43

    Dear Chinese mom,

    Thanks for your article. I’m so thankful that more Chinese moms are speaking out against Amy Chua’s book.

    I’m also a Chinese mom and boy, did I feel totally embarrassed at all the attention paid to Amy Chua’s article. I hope Americans and parents all over the world don’t think that she speaks for all or even a small segment of Chinese moms. Now the phrase ‘Chinese mom’ is going to be synonymous with being an arrogant, selfish tyrant.

    I’m delighted by your article as I also did not push my daughter (I think even less than the Western mom) and I finally distanced myself from the other Asian moms who constantly ‘advise’ me on how I’m failing to raise my child properly. I also gave my daughter a scrapbook just as she was about to leave for college. Last year, she gave me the VERY BEST EVER Christmas present – an absolutely AMAZING scrapbook on how much she enjoyed the times we spent together from when she’s a baby to college graduation and beyond. I cried, a lot, with joy. Now, every time I miss her, I go to the scrapbook.

    My daughter learnt how to play the piano really well at recitals (altho’ not at Carnegie’s), doesn’t speak Chinese, graduated cum laude from VT with 2 degrees in 4 years AND chose to give back to the community by joining Teach For America and is now teaching Special Needs kids at one of the most dangerous and poorest neighborhoods in Chicago. She is the only non-African American in the school.

    And guess what? I don’t think I could be prouder of my baby. Her students love her and she’s making a great difference in their lives. Her and my only regret? That I did not push her harder to learn Chinese. Her students wanted her to teach them Chinese as a reward for doing well in their assignments. Not candy or more playtime but to learn Chinese!!! Fortunately, she knows how to count in Chinese and a few common phrases.

    Mother – as quoted from her scrapbook (sorry, don’t know where the original quote came from)
    “When you’re a child, she walks before you to set an example.
    When you’re a teenager, she walks behind you to be there when you need her.
    When you’re an adult, she walks beside you, so that as two friends you can enjoy life together”


    • haha
      Jan 20, 2011 @ 07:08:18

      Another Chinese Mom,

      My daughter is coming home this weekend, and I am going to show her your reply! I am going to do a Tiger Mom…bring out her Christmas present from many years ago…the terry cloth bear she could barely sew together…throw it to the floor…and say…

      “Other Chinese daughters make beautiful scrapbooks!”

      What do you think? : )



  27. Florida resident
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 22:14:41

    Dear GCM !
    Charles Murray weighs in:

    Respectfully yours, F.r.


  28. MH
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 06:00:20

    Like many other people, I stumbled upon your site after the WSJ article. I read all your posts and loved it! Thank you so much for sharing all of your great insight and creative tips for parenting!

    I’m actually no where close to being a parent (not even done with college yet), but I’ve always had an interest in what the best methods of parenting are, probably a result from my own problems being raised the Asian way. Reflecting on my own experiences, I’ve come to hold the same beliefs you do about parenting, such as the fact that the parent is not always right. Or that success and happiness is not all about grades, money or prior preconceptions the parents set for their kids. I hope I’ll be able to retain these insights I’ve gained growing up and never forget them if I ever become a parent.

    Here’s to hoping I can maybe one day raise a child in a similar fashion you were able to raise M.

    And for people who commented that some kids need to be pushed more and are not self-motivated. I agree with you to a certain extent, but I mostly think you can have some control over it, especially during the earlier stages. I think everyone is naturally curious, and it is important to encourage this whe they are still young. Establishing this frame of mind in them while young will provide “unforseen dividends” in the future, such as people who are naturally more inclined to explore and learn. Just my two cents.


    • haha
      Jan 21, 2011 @ 09:42:12


      Thank you for the very kind words.

      The fact that you are thinking about parenting while you are still in college is a very good indicator of your becoming the right mother for your (future).

      I doubt there is a formula for being a mother. My daughter was my teacher. I listened to her, I watched her, and I really tried to get to know her.

      Glad you enjoyed the essays. I had a great time being a mother. And you will, too!



  29. pandamom
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 12:43:46

    Thank you for you responses to Chua, and for contributing to a more balanced picture of Chinese mothers! Personally, I suspect Chua has embellished her account to boost sales, but I find her stereotyping very offensive. She actually sounds full of self-loathing.


    • haha
      Jan 21, 2011 @ 09:48:28

      Hello, pandamom.

      I actually feel sorry for Chua. It could not have been fun forcing a young child to practice the piano.

      I knew early on that I would have many battles with M, and that is why I chose my battles very carefully.

      And I am glad I did because time flew by, and at least, I know I did not spend any of it arguing and fighting.

      Thanks for dropping by.



      • pandamom
        Jan 21, 2011 @ 11:49:37

        Thank you, again, for your wise words, and for your entertaining essays full of insight. You’re certainly right about time flying by, and treasuring the childhood moments. We have to trust our children, and trust our instinct that THEY have much to teach US.

  30. oscar lover
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 20:30:39

    I’m not understanding why your daughter needed to miss school to watch the Oscars. Isn’t the show on in the evening? But whatever, I would miss school too if they were on during school. And you know what? I’ll bet your daughter remembers you for that. Not that it is a good idea to let your kids think school is okay to miss, but on a rare occasion I think it is okay.


    • haha
      Jan 20, 2011 @ 20:39:04

      Hi, oscar lover.

      We were living in Europe then, and due to the time difference, she had to miss school to watch it.
      And yes, I got a lot of brownie points for that one…not to mention one huge hug… : )



  31. pandamom
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 22:26:12

    Actually, I don’t really care how Chua chooses to parent, or if her kid can play Little White Donkey whilst spinning plates on chopsticks. What really riles me is the disservice Chua has done to the Chinese community. Now, Chinese applicants will be viewed through this prism of ‘tiger mom’ parenting, disadvantaged when applying for college places or employment. Hey, if a ‘Western’ applicant is equally qualified, why pick the Asian automaton? Lets not forget, her kids are half white (as are mine). That’s why she feels no shame or remorse for perpetuating these crude stereotypes.


  32. Florida resident
    Jan 21, 2011 @ 18:32:01

    Dear GCM !
    More of Charles Murray on Amy Chua-related discussions:
    Respectfully yours, Florida resident.


  33. momof2
    Jan 22, 2011 @ 07:53:28

    Thank you for your blog; I ran across it from comments on another website with regard to the Chua book. I only wish these were available when I was a young mom with small daughters, rather than a seasoned mom with young adult and teen daughters. Your love for your daughter and the many poignant moments of childhood shine through your words. I got derailed (thankfully) from the Chua controversy to read many of your entries, which took me down memory lane of my own mother-daughter adventures and misadventures. I particularly admire your ability to draw from various cultures (culture of your family background but also somewhat of the different lands you had the privilege to live in), and from your own heart and intuition, in raising your child.

    I live in Northern California, so we have many Asian and South Asian families, many of whom do place much pressure on their children. Not all of this is bad… high expectations and encouragement are wonderful. I do feel that all of the attention from this book may lead to more negative stereotypes. Your blog is a lovely counterpoint. On the other hand, my older daughter tells me she will be somewhat of an “Asian” mom — in our family, it’s the dad who is Asian, a few generations in the US, so more of an American guy of Asian heritage. This daughter sees that some of her friends who had piano or other lessons since very young were able to reach proficiency, while she spent those years in Girl Scouts and other less rigorous explorations. Second daughter despises being pushed and sometimes is a challenge to encourage (e.g., takes encouragement as pushing). Both of these young ladies are creative, interesting people who give back to their community. The older one attends a very selective university despite the lack of rigorous piano instruction. Younger sister is not quite as academic, but she also has common sense and integrity. I want her to find her path and not feel in her sister’s shadow. Parenting is such soul work; thank you for pointing out its beauty.


  34. IndonesianChineseAmerican
    Jan 22, 2011 @ 15:52:28

    Many thanks for your blog and articles.

    I cannot imagine how much arrogance one needs in order to call one’s child garbage (see Ms. Chua’s WSJ excerpt) and then tells it (proudly, I’m surmising somewhat. I am not going to go out and purchase a copy of Ms. Chua’s book) to the public multiple times. I am glad there are others out there who share my views.

    My life is not that different from Ms. Chua’s. My husband and I both have math/science graduate degrees (including PhDs) from Harvard, Texas A&M U, Berkeley. The main differences are my husband taught (was a full professor at a young age) at a top private university for about 15 years before pursuing something else and I chose to work in the industry instead of being a college professor and I was a Chinese Indonesian (My grandparents are from China). I am a product of my Asian-tiger mom but my husband was raised by his Western mom. She never attended college. Her dad passed away when she was 4 and her mom did not have enough personal funds to pay for her college. My dad had a similar fate. He had to quit junior high to earn a living. My parents started off quite poor. My older sibling said when I was a baby, we couldn’t afford a car yet, so the five of us all sat on a motorcycle to go from place to place; without helmets (no helmet laws at the time). But my dad is a talented businessman and our family finances were always improving every year. By the time I was old enough to remember, my mom always had at least 1 maid to help her daily (except Sunday) with house chores. We could have afforded to hire a chauffeur if my mom needed help. My mom sometimes had me stay at my aunts’ homes for a week (longer if my parents went on vacation abroad with my sibling(s)). The only time she held a job was before she was married (at 25). She taught sewing for a couple of years. My siblings were sent off to boarding school abroad since elementary school. Her daily chores involve supervising the maid’s work daily and either prepare or buy meals, pick me up from music classes (that she required me to take), inquiring about my homework. But if my parents thought I needed “an academic boost”, they would hire a private tutor at home. She didn’t have to do it herself. We ate out more that we ate at home. I was usually the only kid in school uniform hanging around restaurants. Visitors are generally banned from our house. A few of her siblings and their children are sometimes allowed (She just did not open the door when she did not want visitors if they came). Certainly, my classmates were not allowed to come visit me (and vice versa) unless there were mandatory school group projects. We were not allowed to have a phone at home until I was in high school. It doesn’t seem that life was unbearably grueling for her. She never had to hold a job to earn money for a day since she got married. No obvious things that should take up a lot of her time. Mon-Sat were all school days in Indonesia and there were no spring or summer vacation/break.
    My stay-at-home mom took the Asian-tiger parenting method to the extreme. Starting from I was about 4 or 5, my mom’s parenting repertoire includes semi-regular screaming, graphic cursing (involving a wide variety of gory and very painful ways to die, that I was so incredibly useless I could only be a streetwalker when I grow up, I was a monster, a beast, dog, pig, completely unloveable, the biggest mistake of her life is to have me), hitting (occasionally escalated to epistaxis/nose bleed), spitting, hard and repeated poking in the head. Not playing the piano is not an option. After my parents found a music school in my hometown in Indonesia, I had to be a full-time student there. I had to start taking music theory and piano classes when I was around 5. (I am still a decent piano player today.) I had always been compared to the best performing kid in every field except sports and bible study (My mom is a “pragmatic Buddhist” and is completely opposed to sports). Full-blown cursing/screaming in Hokkien (sometimes other languages such as Indonesian and Mandarin were added to expand the cursing range) and hitting will commence should I be seen as lagging behind other kids (especially in the sciences and music), or when I had to attend mandatory high-school swimming classes. That alone was already not an easy childhood. Add to that the racial tension in Indonesia (e.g., try googling 1998 racial ethnic riot Medan Jakarta Indonesia wiki. Google entries from last year read like an Indonesian holocaust that is on a smaller scale in terms of casualties. This year, the top spots look as if they have been filled up by less feather-ruffling entries. At my school, there were times when students had to pay a fine if they were caught speaking Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese, or other Chinese dialects in school. English and other languages are not black-listed in my school) and the cruel treatment of children in schools. I started at a private Methodist school in town which offered classes from K to 2. The worst incident in my classroom I could remember was when my second grade teacher threatened (I thought for sure it was going to happen at the time) to disrobe me in front of the whole class when I forgot to do my homework. She had done that previously to two classmates who did not do well in class. I escaped the humiliation by a narrow margin.
    Starting from the third grade, my parents sent me to a private Catholic school. It was no different than the Methodist school I attended, but instead of witnessing the disrobing of other young children, I had to watch in horror as my fifth grade teacher made a classmate eat a test paper with a poor score. It made me wonder, how does it occur to a teacher to have a student eat a test paper? How does such a dysfunctional idea gets into one’s brain? I got better at staying away from trouble with teachers in school after the second grade. There were 4-6 teachers who disliked me and screamed at me no more than twice each; had my pencil case hurled across the classroom (by the infamous fifth grade teacher; there was the usual expected screaming from this teacher. I packed my pencil case with magnetic-closure too full, so the lid bounced back and made clicking noises when I tried to close the pencil case 2-3 times), pinched very hard on the face once that it was still red when I got home. At least I never got slapped at school. My mom has the honor (The most significant incident was due to my inability to explain a dirty spot on the home porch outside the door. Not over being disrespectful or school performance). I never had serious academic troubles, so I was relatively lucky compared to my peers. Indonesian parents and teachers rarely (or never, depending on the individuals) give out compliments. I suspect that is probably even still true today in many families/schools. You rarely know what your teachers/parents really think of you or your work when it is on the good-end of the spectrum. But during junior high and high school years, I felt as if some teachers thought that I was among the more promising students and they were reasonably nice to me. I was among the top few scorers in school. It was exhausting and terrifying to survive that sort of childhood/adolescent years. I felt the most unsafe near my mom and a handful of school teachers though that was unlikely to be true. Over my childhood years, I considered the possibility of running from home or committing suicide but could not see how I could do either one realistically. I cried myself to sleep frequently, waking up with swollen eyes. Fortunately, my dad had been quite a successful businessman by the time I was in high school, so he could afford to send me to the US for college and I could leave the past behind me. I mentioned to my mom on the suicidal thoughts I had starting from since I was around 8 years old. There was not much of a reaction except she blamed me that I could remember such things after all the love that she had given me (the love wasn’t nearly as obvious as the “frustration”) and I never appreciated the love enough. It’s not that I deliberately kept a record of each incident for the sake of tallying them up later. Rather, it’s when these intense experiences were taking place, you are left wondering whether you had reached the peak-worst moment of that particular incident or the worst was yet to come. “How much worse is this going to get? What will this lead to? Will this repeat tonight, tomorrow, next week? Is mom really going to kill herself like she said she would and it really is because of me as she said? What should I do?” My dad worked extremely hard to afford good college education (and more; he paid for daily maid service to help my mom, my siblings’ boarding school fees abroad. He had a strict style but still reasonable and loving though very busy with career) for his children. We certainly appreciate all that he had done. It is, however, hard to find an example where cursing/spitting/hitting should be incorporated as part of everyday parenting repertoire.
    My past experience has made me appreciate truly the teachers I had in US colleges and graduate schools over the years. It was only after I arrived in the US that I started experiencing some normalcy in life. I have had brilliant, famous, and caring American, Chinese, Australian, European teachers/friends/mentors/colleagues (in non-Asian-tiger approach) over the years in the US to dilute the intense early years. I could not help wondering, how much worse can it get in schools across the world? How much cruelty still exists in schools today? Having experienced both physical and verbal abuse, I have to say verbal abuse feels MUCH WORSE and has a much longer-lasting effects. I cannot imagine advocating for a parenting style that includes verbal abuse.
    I hope that Ms. Chua had not been considering the merits of the Asian-tiger parenting seriously. Before Ms. Chua called her daughter garbage, did she sit down and think for a moment about what her daughter needed at that time and then decided that the best thing she could do for her daughter is to call her daughter garbage? Is this a form of encouragement? A stimulant, a catalyst? Why is this the best thing to do for her daughter? In what way does it help the daughter? Why does she need to justify her behavior to the reader by explaining the incident further if she is confident that this is the right thing to do? Does it feel unhealthy to her at all to call her daughter garbage? Was the garbage route the first and/or only method that came to mind? Did she consider if alternate methods might be more effective or constructive? I can’t imagine a setting where the garbage method is the best method. Do we all believe that Ms. Chua only called her daughter garbage once? I also have doubts about mothers who think they really know their daughters. How often is the case that they really know their daughters as well as they think they do? Did she consider the consequences of “what if I were wrong”?


  35. J
    Jan 22, 2011 @ 21:32:50

    This has been a good read about a philosophy where we can keep the hard work ethic with positive reinforcement and actually teaching independent judgement and reasoning.


    • haha
      Jan 23, 2011 @ 20:16:35

      Thank you for the kind words.

      I wanted to be a better mother than my mother, and in my quest to be one, I read parenting books. I sought advice from parenting experts. I talked to other parents.

      Everyone had something to say to me about parenting, the right way to parent, the better way to parent, the best way to parent.

      It has been more than two decades since I read my first book on parenting. And now looking back, I see that I had the best teacher in my daughter. From the minute she was born, she was telling me how I could be the right mother for her.

      And I learned…by listening to her…by watching her…and by knowing her…



  36. pandamom
    Jan 23, 2011 @ 02:47:56


  37. pandamom
    Jan 23, 2011 @ 02:51:06


  38. alittleasian
    Jan 23, 2011 @ 03:15:57

    I am multi-racial with one of those races being Asian. I’m writing for a variety of reasons. Mainly to allay some of the fears expressed in the posts. First things first.

    My primary race is black. I was raised by a mother who was strict as well. Frankly some of the same unhealthy parenting techniques that Amy Chua mentioned are used by other racial and ethnic groups. I have very close friends of Korean and Japanese decent and they have shared stories regarding how strict their mom or a parent was as well.

    I’m sure there are many people reading the WSJ excerpt and relating to it who are not Chinese. They are not going to admit it except to close friends but they are probably relieved to know that someone else had the same experience growing up. There are Tiger Mothers in every race and ethnicity.

    Do not worry that people are going to think that Chinese women are all ‘Tiger Mothers’. Thinking, compassionate, empathetic and emotionally intelligent people are not going to take one persons word and apply that to every Chinese person they meet. They know she represents a segment. The people who will believe this. Well they are small-minded and frankly are the type that are looking for negative information. The sort of people you want to be around are those who let you tell your own story and will ask questions if they need clarification.

    Amy’s book can be used in a positive way by those who are interested in building relationships with Chinese people who have had the Tiger Mother experience. It provides insight as to their psyche and responses. For those who are healthy and positive thinkers, it can help answer questions they may not have the opportunity to ask someone. After all, who wants to admit that their parents degraded them on a regular basis.

    As someone whose primary race is vilified regularly, I can tell you this too shall pass. There are many people who will not change their thoughts of you. I know because I’ve experiences it. I applaud however all of you who are Chinese mothers and provided a different voice to Amy Chua’s book. Congratulations to all of you.


  39. Scott in Minnesota
    Jan 23, 2011 @ 03:30:52

    I would like to make 2 comments:

    (1) Amy Chua is trying to sell books. And to sell books you have to make a controversy of some sort in order to get attention. Also, Amy Chua confuses being mean with ‘tough love’. She thinks she has the formula to success, but her approach has a ‘desperate’ feel.

    (2) As a stay-at-home Dad who also gave up a lucrative career, and a lilly-white American… this issue really goes beyond Asian parenting discipline. We want success for our children, no matter where we are from.

    Personally, I was a happy child growing up in heartland America, but I would have no idea that once I became an adult that I would ask my parents why they didn’t make me play sports sooner (started in Baseball at 12, and in Hockey and Tennis at 15 – far too late to become a great player), or make me study harder. They were surprised by that. As a result, my kids are going to be encouraged to do what they like best – with one caveat, however… we are not going to do 5 sports, only one or two – and we are going to go all the way, sparing no expense or effort to improve. They take Suzuki Cello & Piano, Dance Classes, and Soccer is the primary sport. The first two children could read at 3 and 4 years old, and they devour books like candy. I never denigrate them in any way, but I do push them to try their hardest… and when they don’t, I express my disappointment – and explain why they must always try their hardest.

    In the final analysis, President Obama had it exactly right in his Tuscon speech when he said, “…in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame – but rather, how well we have loved…” I’m afraid that this excessively-harsh Asian parenting model fails this test.


    • haha
      Jan 25, 2011 @ 02:47:22

      Hello, Scott in Minnesota,

      Allow me to respond to your comments.

      1) Yes, Amy Chua is trying to sell books, and she has every right to create as much fanfare as she wants, but I also expect her to stand by what she says. When she proclaims that she never allows…That means…never…and not…actually, they sometimes do…

      2) Yes, we all want success for our children, but at what price is my question. We have had to deal with M’s scoliosis, and a few other very serious matters in our lives. I guess that puts everything in perspective for me.

      3) M grew up with an abundance of opportunities, and there are times when all too many choices become a burden. That is what happened with her languages. She was obviously struggling with her Japanese, and at that point, she was learning two other foreign languages, and progressing at an amazing speed. I decided to let Japanese go. In other words, I threw away that option. It was not a battle that I chose to fought. M had Japanese lessons once a week, and that was it. No nagging about homework, or reading. Instead, I bombarded her with the culture. I celebrated all the Japanese festivals, even the obscure ones. And we watched lots and lots of Japanese television!

      I truly believe that there is more than one way to success…if that is what one wants…and that way is definitely not paved with hysterics and threats…



  40. Maggie
    Jan 23, 2011 @ 13:44:59

    Thanks for your comment regarding parenting styles in response to Chua. I am so glad you shared a different version of Asian parenting. And I agree with you that Chua’s book reinforces the stereotypical image of Aisan parents and may very well make life harder for Asian students in America. They may more likely become targets of teasing and bullying in schools!!

    I am also happy to learn that your daughter turned out so wholesomely lovely! And please keep the blog and share succesful parenting ideas! I love your writing!


    • haha
      Jan 25, 2011 @ 02:26:45

      Thank you very much, Maggie.

      M and I had a very interesting discussion recently about what it means to be an Asian majoring in the humanities in an ivy league college. With majority of the Asian students in the “useful” concentrations, she is one of the very few studying history, and art, and literature.

      And her peers probably mean to compliment her when they say,

      “You are actually a white person.”

      M used to get extremely offended. To her, the implication was Asians could not possibly be interested in the arts, and she found that very insulting.

      On the other hand, when she finds herself amongst Asians, they are very impressed by her Ivy League credentials, but truly disappointed by her humanities concentration. They assume she will have difficulty finding a job upon graduation.

      She has always found herself straddling between the cultures of the East and the West, and hopefully, she will find her own way between them.



  41. cheapsocialworker
    Jan 24, 2011 @ 03:50:25

    I encountered your blog on a number of news websites and found your take on parenting refreshing in the light of Amy Chua’s book. Reading the initial Wall Street Journal made me physically ill, but finding your blog is a reminder that not all parents are like her.

    I am an Asian American who was raised by parents who employed “Tiger Mother” tactics. It is because of this upbringing that I am a social worker today (a choice that would probably horrify Amy Chua if she was my mother). Feel free to read about my experiences on my website. I certain appreciate your input.


    • haha
      Jan 24, 2011 @ 19:05:47


      I was not very happy when I was a child, and I knew even then that I would never be a “Chinese” mother. I tried very hard to be a better mother. I read parenting books. I talked to parenting experts. And I sought guidance from older parents.

      In the end, my daughter was my best teacher. I learned how to be the right mother for her…the best mother she can have…by listening to her, by watching her, and by knowing her.

      I am just so glad she chose me to be her mommy!

      I will definitely drop by your site.



  42. parenting ad absurdum
    Jan 24, 2011 @ 17:55:26

    Hello GCM – you’ve generated such a great discussion, since I was last here! I wanted to drop by again to let you know I’ve posted a follow up on my article last week, and would love to hear your take on it.


  43. Dada D
    Jan 24, 2011 @ 18:35:35

    Good Chinese Mother:

    Thanks for the bibliography, I intend to check it out.

    Like you and millions of others, I have found this whole Chinese Tiger Mom thing to be thought provoking. It has stirred my wife and me to reflect on our own approach to parenting (yep, Christian Fundies can have open minds too) and this, from homeschoolers who also mandate piano lessons. Another stereotype bites the dust. Let’s hope the Chinese Tiger Mom stereotype does too.

    Dada D


    • haha
      Jan 24, 2011 @ 19:00:25

      Dada D,

      Bibliography? Such a big word…

      I never thought I would blog. And I am still figuring it out.

      Why piano lessons? M tried her hand at piano and Japanese drums. And I joined her. And I found the drums to be more of a challenge to my memory and stamina.

      AS for stereotypes, I am afraid it is out with the “pushy Asian mother” and in with the “Chinese tiger mother”. Somehow, I do do not feel better.

      Oh, I really should write about how I introduced M to religion. I gave her a book in third grade. “What Is God”

      And we are still discussing it…



  44. kim
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 20:34:30

    I thought 1600 was highest for SAT??


  45. Peter
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 18:18:51

    I like your blog, I got to it from your post in the Seattle Times.

    I have a Philippine wife and we met in Singapore and I had spent a lot of time in the Philippines prior to her getting her US visa. I did notice how successful the Chinese were in the Philippines and I am curious if many of the Chinese left China for the Philippines around 1949 when the Communists took over? A Filipino friend told me that after arriving the Chinese started at the most humble businesses like junk shops but over the years come to own the SM malls for instance. Anyway my Filipino friend was very impressed by the Chinese there and thought Filipinos should try to emulate them because of their hard work and sacrifice for their children. Certainly that sacrifice is a demonstration of love.

    My two stepchildren are in ESL classes and doing well I think considering their disadvantage and hopefully can get into one of the state universities in Washington (state) and make continual improvement. But we also have a daughter of our own, now 19 months old and in a year I hope to get her into a Montessori preschool. I work at sea, it is about all I can do where I can earn a decent salary, but I hope to do all I can for her even though I will not be with her all off the time, but when I am off the ship I spend all the time at home. But the job also will let my wife to be a full time mother, which is a pretty demanding job especially since I cannot help her but when I am home. I phone her every day when we have the satellite and email when we don’t.

    Of course I will want to teach my daughter not to give up when it gets difficult, but I will want her to develop her own interests.


    • haha
      Jan 28, 2011 @ 19:04:03

      Dear Peter,

      I am glad you found me! Thank you for reading my blog.

      I do not know much about the history of the Chinese in the Philippines. I made no effort to learn because growing up, I was extremely uncomfortable with the way my own family, the so called “pure Chinese” discriminated against the “locals” which meant the Filipinos.

      My own ancestors arrived in Manila long before the start of the Second World War. I believe my maternal great-grandfather was sent to the Philippines to open diplomatic ties, and found himself and his family stranded when China became a communist country.

      It is said that many of the prominent Filipino-Chinese families in the Philippines today had very humble beginnings. I know a few people who started with nothing but the shirt on their back, and built a huge fortune in one generation.

      I believe the same thing can be said of the Chinese in other Southeast Asian countries, and I have witnessed the present-day Chinese try to do the same in Africa.

      Although I am ethnically Chinese, one without a drop of barbarian blood, as my parents often said, I doubt I can call myself Chinese. At least, I know I am different from the Chinese of the People’s Republic of China. The term “overseas Chinese” is probably more descriptive of me.

      With your step-children currently living in an English-speaking environment, I have no doubt they will be speaking English with an American accent soon enough. It is truly amazing how children absorb things so quickly. I have learned though that the battle is in enabling them to retain what they have absorbed.

      After a few months in Vienna, I remember M describing how she was forgetting the Kanji characters she learned in Tokyo.

      “I can see a couple of them flying out the window with the passing of each day.”




  46. walkingtalking
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 20:24:21

    I am from China Shanghai, with rather poor English. :< I'd like to say some words.

    Thought the Chinese version of Amy Chua’s book (named "Me, Being a Mother in America") has been published. The selling performance may not reach the expect, since her story is not as attractive as the "Good Chinese Father".

    蔡笑晚 Cai Xiaowan / The family name Cai is also translated to Chua out of mainland China. The story of this father can be found at following links (all in Simplified Chinese) # Chinese book review 豆瓣书评 #Chinese clone of WiKi 百度百科 # The father's blog

    ===Some translation from google, Start (with my correction to apparent error) ===
    Six children
    1st son Caitian Wen, Ph.D. Cornell University, 36-year-old University of Pennsylvania becomes the youngest tenured professor, also served as the National Foundation for the review of papers, in 2008 won the World Statistics "Nobel Prize" – "test Phillips Presidential Award";
    2nd son Caitian Wu, China University of Technology 14 years of age admitted to the Youth Class, 19 years old admitted to the Nobel Laureates, organized CASPEA Lee PhD in America, 25, received Ph.D. from the University of Rochester, a former Wall Street after graduating from the fund management manager, and now America's largest, known as "financial Harvard," said Goldman Sachs as vice president of the United States;
    3rd son Caitian Shi, graduated from Beijing Foreign Languages Institute, had been admitted to the United States St. John's University Ph.D., is now offering the domestic industry;
    4th son Caitian Run, West China Medical University, graduated from Arkansas State University was admitted as doctoral students, is founder of private hospitals in Shanghai;
    5th son Caitian Jun, China University of Technology Master's, and now the work of the China Construction Bank;
    6th daughter Caitian Xi, aged 14, entered the University of Science and Technology of China Youth Class, 18-year-old become the Massachusetts Institute of Technology doctoral student, 22-year-old Ph.D. from Harvard University, 28 years old became the youngest professor at Harvard University, she directs the doctoral than her 12 years older.
    ===Some translation from google, End ===

    I can't check the truth of those materials. But in my opinion, there is no silver bullet in the filed of child eduction. Each family can take their own choice, classic Chinese, classic West, classic Jewish, new International….etc. Furthermore, comparing the Asia immigration children with those from normal US family is a bit unfair, since the former may have better finance and eduction background. Comparing with Jews !


  47. JJ Hung
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 22:24:26

    This is unrelated to anything you have to say on this blog, but I would like to ask you to please stop carpet-bombing every website that has even a cursory mention of Amy Chua with a post on how you’re a better mom, and a link to this blog. It’s extremely annoying.

    I’ve checked several websites, and it doesn’t matter if the site agrees with Chua, talks about the psychology of child-rearing, or uses Chua to emphasize American competitiveness, you don’t bother to read the articles. You only show up to post your little blurb in the comments section. Sometimes, an article has only appeared for 20 minutes, and you’ve already registered and placed a comment.

    If you have to comment, at least read the article and critique its points. Do not carpet-bomb websites. Thank you.


    • haha
      Jan 29, 2011 @ 22:50:52

      I am sorry if I have annoyed you. I feel very, very strongly about Chua’s book (which I have read), and I will continue to let people know that if the ultimate aim is indeed academic excellence, there are alternatives to her hysterics and threats.

      I have witnessed Asian students suffer from being branded as unfeeling robots. They lose self-confidence for being quiet and diligent. They feel left out for having parents who have different values. And I have also witnessed the confusion of Asian parents who fail to understand that what they have grown up with, may not necessarily be the best for their children.

      I do read the articles that I comment on, and try to make a relevant comment. Having said that, relevance is subjective. Comments are moderated, and once my comment has been removed for some violation, I do not post it again.

      In the same way that I am free to comment, you are free to ignore my comment, or disagree with me, and make a comment of your own.

      Kind regards,

      Good Chinese Mother


      • Florida resident
        Jan 31, 2011 @ 16:47:53

        Dear Good Chinese Mother !
        I greatly appreciate the fact that you have actually read the book by Chua about parenting. I have hot read that book, I read the article only; and I personally have a rule not to comment on material, which I have not read in _full_.
        Bless your family.
        Your truly, Florida resident.

      • haha
        Jan 31, 2011 @ 21:07:32

        Dear Florida resident,

        To be honest, I really did not want to contribute to Chua’s book sales, but I did not want to make uninformed comments either. I had no choice but to read the book which could very well be a self-assessment of her parenting. Instead of doing it in private, she chose to do it in public by writing a memoir.

        Now, I think that when one’s children are barely out of high school, writing a memoir extolling the virtues of a particular way of parenting can have very serious consequences for the author’s children. There is now the expectation for the children to be successful according to the parent’s definition of success, and that expectation is no longer coming from the parent alone, but from the readers as well.

        People who have read the book will be watching the children closely to determine if the suggested parenting method has indeed been effective or not. For example, will Chua’s eldest daughter be offered admissions by Ivy League colleges?

        Whether they like it or not, Amy Chua’s daughters now have the burden of either proving their mother right in how she chose to raise them, or of demonstrating that her methods did not do them any lasting harm.

        Either way, it must be no picnic being Amy Chua’s daughters.


  48. pandamom
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 00:01:39

    @JJHung: Why so annoyed? Why should only Amy Chua be setting the agenda?


  49. tiger mom
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 14:33:45

    Amy’s approach is very narrow. I do agree with you that threats, histerics and other idiocy is not necessary. i also think that you can raise a well rounded, happy kid who is an exceptional in academics. i do not think we must choose looser over happy. it sounds like you did not have to. i hope you will continue to blog and look forward to learning from your success. please visit me at


    • haha
      Jan 31, 2011 @ 20:54:22

      Dear russian tiger mom,

      Thank you for reading my blog. My parenting style is not for everyone. It just so happens that my daughter and I are a match. If I were asked for any advice, I would say, look at your child closely, and be the parent your child needs. There is nothing wrong with consulting parenting books and experts, but in the end, I think that a good parent will choose a parenting style that matches the personality/character of the child.

      Having said that, there is really no excuse for the kind of extreme parenting employed by Chua.



  50. Florida resident
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 16:38:33

    Dear Good Chinese Mother !

    1. First of all, thank you for providing such a wonderful forum for the discussion of bringing kids up.

    2. John Derbyshire wrote an important article on the subject:

    In it he spends no time on his (China-born) wife and their two kids (in comparison with previous “Corner” comments), but more on gerneral subject of bringing kids up in US.

    Best to you and your loved ones.
    Respectfully, Florida resident.


    • haha
      Jan 31, 2011 @ 21:03:02

      Dear Florida resident,

      Thank you very much for the article. All parenting experts seem to agree that there is more than one way to parent.

      Bringing up a child is difficult enough without having to consider multicultural differences. This whole controversy reminds me of the toy pendulum my daughter once had. When she took the ball in her hand, and released it with a throw, the ball would swing wildly to the left and the right for several minutes, before slowly stopping and settling in the middle.

      The West has gone from one extreme form of parenting as in spare the rod and spoil the child, to another as in everybody is a winner. The East, having seen the rise of Microsoft, Google and Facebook, is busy emulating the West.

      Now, the West seeing the recently prosperous East, is contemplating a return to what the East is busy discarding.

      Everyone is busy swinging from left to right, or right to left.

      Somehow, I think the real winners, both in the East and the West, will be those who like the ball of the pendulum, find their balance right in the middle.



  51. Nathaniel Long
    Feb 02, 2011 @ 15:09:32

    Dear Mrs. Haha,

    You wrote in Time’s comment section: “I am truly fortunate to have an academically successful daughter who achieved near perfect SAT scores, and received offers from HYP. I will take credit for having given her a whole lot of support, but I am certain my parenting skills had little to do with her college acceptances. In truth, I suspect race and gender played major roles.”

    Read more:

    Education research supports your suspicion that gender played a role in your daughter’s acceptance into Harvard, Yale and Princeton. However, we do not have good peer-reviewed evidence that one has an advantage in academia merely by virtue of being a member of the Oriental race. Charles Murray works with race and intelligence issues and has found a huge disparity on IQs for one race, the Jews. Other than that differences in IQs are insignificant to explain academic differences, particularly anything so great as Oriental Americans’ academic success, which is phenomenal.

    (Full disclosure: I am biased, being married to an Oriental woman who has given me five very bright children so far. And, I am ensconced as an educator of 14 years within the one culture which contributes more foreign students than China, studying in the U.S.: South Korea. This includes the totals of elementary through tertiary. China has more if you count only tertiary. Some say we got a heavier and more lasting dose of Confucianism than Mainland China.)

    According to educational research we continue to find stronger evidence that social class plays a major role in predicting future academic success. I would not be surprised to discover that your daughter has not only a superior IQ (far higher than the average Chinese girls’ IQ), but also comes from a social class that is above middle middle (middle of the middle class).

    Even individual IQ, though, is not proving to be such a great predictor of success when it is above a certain minimum. Charles Murray says you need to have an IQ 0f at least 110 in order to handle the requirements of an American undergraduate level education (140 if you want to do research in theoretical physics). But above the minimum needed to handle certain tasks, IQ is not a great predictor. Environment is much stronger thereafter.

    I appreciate your post here. I am the de facto Mom” of our burgeoning brood here in South Korea, Land of the Morning Calm. The books you list look like a treasure trove for me, and are targeted at very specific needs that I have, “How to get your child to do thus and such.” I have an intense interest in this sort of stuff, and though I have figured out a lot on my own, with variations of stimuli for each child, I am always interested in reading more ideas from other mothers.

    I know which leg my wee ones like to push into their pants first, and I can tell the difference in all of my children by smell and the sound of their foot patter.

    Love, Nathaniel

    P.S. You write that you do not really want to contribute more to Mrs. Chua’s book sales. I don’t think that matters. We need not begrudge her that. It’s OK if she makes money. She seems to be sympathetic (able to respond and change), and her follow up writing shows that she has already learned a lot from the experience of writing her book. She would write it very differently now, if at all. She is clearly a different person from the moment she began that text, and I think she is now better for her effort.


    • haha
      Feb 02, 2011 @ 17:00:04

      Dear Nathaniel,

      Your thoughtful response is much appreciated. Allow me to reply in the following manner. Makes for easier reading, I should think.

      Education research supports your suspicion that gender played a role in your daughter’s acceptance into Harvard, Yale and Princeton. However, we do not have good peer-reviewed evidence that one has an advantage in academia merely by virtue of being a member of the Oriental race. Charles Murray works with race and intelligence issues and has found a huge disparity on IQs for one race, the Jews. Other than that differences in IQs are insignificant to explain academic differences, particularly anything so great as Oriental Americans’ academic success, which is phenomenal.

      I suspect that my daughter was accepted by all three of the colleges she applied to because aside from being qualified with her near-perfect SAT score, and straight A’s, she was very, very different from all the other Asian applicants. Instead of playing a musical instrument like the piano or the violin, she sang, and danced, and acted. She was not a member of any math or science club. In fact, she struggled with math, and only took the basic. She was instead a formidable orator and debater. And it surely did not hurt that she was completely fluent in four languages, and proved it by taking the AP tests right after the summer of her high school sophomore year.

      What I have learned as a parent from the whole college admissions process is that all applicants to the top colleges have perfect grades and test scores, and that these are not enough. They are merely tickets to join a very long marathon that requires a student to be strikingly different from applicants of the same background.

      (Full disclosure: I am biased, being married to an Oriental woman who has given me five very bright children so far. And, I am ensconced as an educator of 14 years within the one culture which contributes more foreign students than China, studying in the U.S.: South Korea. This includes the totals of elementary through tertiary. China has more if you count only tertiary. Some say we got a heavier and more lasting dose of Confucianism than Mainland China.)

      My feeling about the huge number of Chinese and Korean students studying in American universities is that there is a certain amount of prestige attached to a foreign (Western) degree, and it makes them just so much more attractive in the job market. I doubt the same can be said in Japan, and that could explain the very low number of Japanese students in America’s top universities.

      According to educational research we continue to find stronger evidence that social class plays a major role in predicting future academic success. I would not be surprised to discover that your daughter has not only a superior IQ (far higher than the average Chinese girls’ IQ), but also comes from a social class that is above middle middle (middle of the middle class).

      I have never had my daughter’s IQ tested, and I firmly believe that working hard, being organized and focused is just as important as intelligence. While I never emphasized grades, I did tell her very early on that it was society’s way of measuring individuals, and she will simply have to learn to play the game until she is in a position to change it. We were so ambivalent about grades that we never even noticed that one of her subjects was missing in her report card for the whole year! Whenever she was asked of her GPA, she could never really give an answer because she had no clue.

      My husband and I did not attend American colleges, but we are both graduates of fairly prestigious Asian universities. He is a bureaucrat, and I am a stay-at-home mother. In terms of annual income, I doubt we could be classified as upper middle class.

      Having decided to put her in international schools, her education was our biggest family expense. We made sacrifices knowing that a good education was the only thing we could really give her.

      I appreciate your post here. I am the de facto Mom” of our burgeoning brood here in South Korea, Land of the Morning Calm. The books you list look like a treasure trove for me, and are targeted at very specific needs that I have, “How to get your child to do thus and such.” I have an intense interest in this sort of stuff, and though I have figured out a lot on my own, with variations of stimuli for each child, I am always interested in reading more ideas from other mothers.

      The list is actually a list of the essays I wrote many years ago as a high school graduation present for my daughter. They are about my experiences as her mother, and I would never suggest that my experiences would be the same as yours. It just so happens that my daughter and I are a match, and even then, I questioned myself every single day about my parenting skills. Am I doing the right thing? Am I doing the best thing?

      I am quite sure that I have left some scars on my daughter, and I can only hope that the unconditional love I have given her will make those scars easier to live with as she goes through life.



  52. Hongmiao
    Feb 07, 2011 @ 23:36:35

    I loved your post in the guardian, because when I read the article on Amy Chua I felt sick to the pits of my stomach and my blood boil. I am really glad I found this blog.

    My parents are from mainland China and they valued working hard, getting top grades and pushing yourself. They rarely read to or played with me, and when I was young I seldom got hugs or attention, except “have you done your homework?” or “it’s late, go to bed”. Although I have lived in the UK since I was 5, I am still an only child and I lived a sheltered, isolated life.

    I was so resentful at my parents for pushing me to do things I hated (like play the piano), making me feel guilty for getting mediocre grades, making me take private school and Oxbridge entrance exams (which I failed), making me feel that crying or having upset feelings were useless. But now I love my parents: not for all the things they did to me, but because they have started to CHANGE. After leaving for university, they respect me more. I get hugs and they tell me they are proud of me. And I realise that I am a hardworker not because they made me so, but because they set a good example by being passionate about their own jobs. I still can’t talk to them about my feelings, but I am not so resentful about going home anymore – and I am please with that!

    Haha, I am so uplifted to hear that you have challenged your own parents’ ways and raise your daughter on encouragement and warmth. It will be a while until I have children of my own, but I hope I can follow your example!


    • haha
      Feb 08, 2011 @ 00:41:56

      Dear Hongmiao,

      I was not very happy as a child, and although I had no clue what good parenting was all about, I knew that I did not want to parent like my mother. I only started the blog because I was truly shocked by the Wall Street Journal article. I have since read Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother, and although I understand Chua was doing her best for her daughters, I will never agree with her methods.

      I am now glad that I am sharing my essays with young women like you. I will never say that I know the right way to parent, but hopefully, I have made you see that motherhood can be such a wonderful experience. I continue to consider the years I stayed home for my daughter the best years of my life, but I will tell you like I tell her that it would be best to find a balance between working and being a mother.

      In the end, balance is really the key to everything, isn’t it?



  53. privilegeofparenting
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 18:29:20

    Hi GCM, I have been thinking a lot about this as well, and hoping to find some sort of authentic middle. One thing that I think unites both sides of the polarity is fear (of being bad parents, being left behind, shame, and other perhaps unconscious and ancient fears). Either way, I truly appreciate your counterpoint… and yet I’m still yearning for some middle ground where the fact that we all love our kids might help moms like you empower kids who are not your kids (so, thanks for blogging, as this, I hope, may serve that purpose).

    All Good Wishes


  54. sue
    Feb 13, 2011 @ 18:46:16

    Saw your comment in the Guardian. Right on.


  55. Mario
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 18:31:57

    So, you’re Filipina with a Chinese background. Filipinos in a California study are not doing very well when it comes to education.Most are attending community colleges rather than 4 year institutions. …… Ms. Chua though extreme in her upbringing of her daughters, is quite accurate in the way American children are being brought up. China will overtake America anytime soon.


    • haha
      Feb 21, 2011 @ 18:57:18


      Thank you for reading my blog. Yes, I have heard that Filipinos compared to other Asian immigrants are not as academically successful. Is tiger parenting the answer? For some Filipino children, maybe, it is, but I am convinced that for most children of any ethnicity, there are alternatives to Chua’s parenting style. I would like to think that I have found one alternative that yielded the same, if not better, academic performance that Chua sought from her daughters.

      China has overtaken Japan as the second biggest economy in the world. Still, Japan offers one of the best living standards in the world. Much better than what China has to offer its citizens.

      As for China overtaking America anytime soon, I am not all that worried. And I very much doubt China’s leadership is busy plotting America’s downfall. Right now, I bet they are busy watching the growing political unrest unfolding in the Middle East, and thinking of ways to prevent the Chinese people from being inspired to do the same.



  56. Florida resident
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 19:19:11

    Dear Good Chinese Mother !
    I am happy to see that your discussion of Amy Chua’s article is alive and well.

    I want to point your attention to two relevant books:
    by Steven Pinker,
    “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature”,
    and by R. Herrnstein and Ch. Murray,
    “Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life “.

    Both books emphasize the importance of in-born qualities of a human child,
    as opposed to influence of proper “culture”, “parenting”, “schooling”.

    Recent book by Prof. Weissberg,
    “Bad students, not bad schools”,
    adds extra dimension to this class of problems.

    All these books can be inexpensively purchased (used ones) via “Amazon”.

    With blessings to you and your loved ones,
    Your respectfully, Florida resident.


  57. CT
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 17:55:46

    I grew up with a Tiger Mom too, and left with only negative memories of my childhood. I am so encouraged to read your child-rearing experiences and hope someday I can raise my children just like you.


    • haha
      Mar 06, 2011 @ 14:26:51


      I became the mother I am to M because I did not agree with the way I was brought up. I felt that I was not respected as an individual. I reminded myself to treat M as a whole person at all times, and to use reason and not force. It was not easy, but I was not successful at all times, but I was determined.

      Thank you for your kind words. You make me glad that I started the blog.



  58. G Chen
    Mar 06, 2011 @ 09:30:46


    So I read Mrs. Chu’s story and I thought it was a misrepresentation of what Asian parents are like. Don’t get me wrong, Asian parents do push their kids hard, but what I hated was how she attributed her kid’s success due to her parenting skills.

    If someone has spent close to millions on tutors, world class music lessons, 30 thousand dollar violins, trips all over the world, I’m sure I would have played at Carnegie hall too!

    Mrs. Chu, listen, you are not a good representation of Asian American parenting. Seems to me your kids are just your hobbies. If you think they will be stronger because you forced all this talent onto them, then you are mistaken. They will never truly know adversity and only overcoming the the toughest times will someone grew to be great.


  59. Vannessa
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 11:23:18

    You’re my hero.
    Very happy to have found your writing.

    I get verrrry irritated every time I hear reference to Chua and her book as if she and the techniques described are absolutely right and the best parenting style.

    I think I’m irritated because mother’s have a hard enough time settling into the role, and doubting their skills and ability, wihtout a Chua holding herself up as the icon of correct parenting, particularly with the caveat that not following this way means you and your kids are weak and pathetic.

    I hate the way the publicity around the book prey on fears of parents that we may just not be doing enough for our children. And how on earth in today’s day and age, could the WSJ have gotten away with such an offensive title re Chinese mom’s being superior?

    I also resent the blatant lie implied by the title and the writings about the book, that “all Chinese” mothers are like Chua. Obviously this is not true.

    I have not read, and don’t intend to read the book. I have done well for myself with post graduate education, although my mother’s ended at high school. Her biggest contribution was to love me, dote on me, keep me out of trouble and pray for me alot. Everyone in my husbands immediate family has a PhD, including from some of the top universities in the west and their mother’s parenting style only had the consistency of love, support and encouragement of discipline. So far my kids seem to enjoy a variety of activity and like to do well at them. My main hope and prayer as a parent is that they will remain safe and healthy as I believe those are the bases to endless possibilities for them (NOT hours of unrelenting practise at anything)

    It’s irritating to me to read statements like “I too have a bit of tiger-mom” in me” or “I agree that we raise our kids to be wimps”. Is it largely true that so many parents are doing a lousy job with their kids ‘because’ they are not doing it the tiger mom way? I THINK NOT. The so-called lousy kids of today can still be the scholarship winners of tomorrow.

    I got great grades until high school, then buckled down in the final years, got okay grades for first half of college, then very good grades in the latter (earned honours) then nailed it right throughout grad school having respected the fact that I had earned a scholarship and needed to ensure the ROI to the organisation that invested in me. All made possible by faith, hope, having friends who wanted to acheive and who inspired me, and self confidence, instilled in me my my mother the wonderful *****CAT!!!!


    • haha
      Aug 25, 2011 @ 14:01:07

      Dear Vannessa,

      My apologies for the very, very late reply. We have since moved back to Tokyo, and it is exciting to witness Japan and the Japanese rebuild itself.

      It is wonderful to hear that you have a wonderful relationship with your mother. I wish I could say the same thing, but I continue to suffer from the wounds of tiger parenting. There is a silver lining to my unhappy childhood though. I am the mother that I am to Maia largely because I did not want to parent like my parents.



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