Friday, January 14, 2011

If I Must

If you've been reading around on the blogosphere, you are no doubt aware of Amy Chua's essay, "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior." In it, she describes her abusive campaign to make child prodigies out of her hapless daughters, on piano and violin (strangely, she allows no other instruments.)

The essay was published as part of the marketing campaign for Chua's book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. The omnipresent coverage reminds me of the run-up to another book: Creating A Life, by Sylvia Ann Hewlett. Creating A Life was flogged relentlessly by all the media, but then racked up disappointing sales. I can only hope the same for Chua's book, which I have no desire to read. I'll wait for the bitter memoirs from her daughters, after they've completed a few decades of therapy.

It's not clear to me why Chua, and other Asian mothers, have set their sights on training their children in Western classical music. If they believe that mastery of the techniques of violin and piano playing is the road to fame and fortune in the U.S., they're in for a rude shock.

Above all, Chua strikes me as a ruthless self-promoter, aiming to get media attention and a quick buck at the expense of her young daughters. Really, how American can she get?


  1. Californian for TruthinessJanuary 15, 2011 at 10:28 AM

    Imagine having a mother who only accepts you if you're number one and having a sibling. Logic dictates at least one of you is always going to be unacceptable.


  2. Much as I hate to give Amy Chua any more attention, here's an article I liked:

    Raising Happy, Imperfect Children

  3. PsychMom adds:

    In every clip I've seen of this woman, her arms are crossed in front of her across her body. I can't help thinking that her upbringing must have been just as harsh and that she works really hard to protect herself now.

  4. Thanks for that interesting link, FedUpMom. I've been thinking (and contemplating writing a blog post) about a point that Christine Carter makes. She says "Western" parents are more achievement-oriented than the reaction to Chua's book would lead one to think. I agree. I think (so-called) Western parents are simply more passive-aggressive about their demands. The book rubs such parents the wrong way because in Chua they see themselves stripped of the niceties and the nods to progressive parenting.

  5. I keep looking at my watch and wondering when Amy Chua's 15 minutes of fame will be up.