Gene Yuen Lang, author of American Born Chinese, responds “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.”

I’m late to this! Apparently, the Wall Street Journal recently published an article by Amy Chua entitled Why Asian Mothers are Superior. It’s an excerpt from Chua’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, and it’s all about how Crazy Asian Moms can browbeat their children into becoming overachieving robots. Cue battle cries emanating from the Asian-American/Pacific Islander blogosphere.

However, Amy Chua has since said that the article is not representative of her book. In her own words:

“I was very surprised,” she says. “The Journal basically strung together the most controversial sections of the book. And I had no idea they’d put that kind of a title on it. But the worst thing was, they didn’t even hint that the book is about a journey, and that the person at beginning of the book is different from the person at the end — that I get my comeuppance and retreat from this very strict Chinese parenting model.”

While the Journal article was unquestionably good for sales and awareness of the book, which has already hit #7 on Amazon and is only headed upward, it has been painful for Chua. “I’ve gotten scary messages. Death threats. All from people who haven’t yet read the book,” she says. “And while it’s ultimately my responsibility — my strict Chinese mom told me ‘never blame other people for your problems!’ — the one-sided nature of the excerpt has really led to some major misconceptions about what the book says, and about what I really believe.”

She points out that while she uses the term “Chinese motherhood” as shorthand for her neotraditionalist style of parenting, she states early on that many people of Chinese background don’t subscribe to such methods, and many non-Chinese do. She also asserts that this is meant to be her own tragicomic story, and not a recipe for others to follow.

I’m glad she makes sure to point out that not all Chinese (or Asian) parents aren’t that severe, and that parenting modes very. And while culture and ethnicity play a part in shaping modes of parenting, creating some similarities, everybody raises their children in different ways. It’s just in human nature. Not to mention, that article fails forever for promoting the “model minority” stereotype.


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