Chua's article about Chinese mothering made me sort of fearful for her children. (And, no, it didn't come close to my childhood.)
Included in acceptable behavior (according to Chua, not me) is:
- A willingness to scream when your kids bring home a bad grade and refer to your children as "garbage."
- Ridicule of your child if she is overweight.
- Refusal to allow your children normal things like playdates with other children or sleep-overs.
- Banishment of distractions like TV or videogames.
- Starvation, threats and deprivation of sleep should the child fail to perform.
I'm not exaggerating a word of this. (The last instance is in which Chua's daughter had trouble learning a difficult piano piece. She was kept at the piano until she learned it, not being allowed up for water or bathroom breaks.)
While I have always been wary of criticizing someone else's parenting, if you ask me this is skirting the line to outright abuse. Growing up in the Chua house sounds like growing up in reeducation camp.
Chua is entitled to her opinion, I suppose. She believes fully in the rectitude of this school of parenting. I'm sure her daughters will be at the top of their class at Harvard, and she'll feel vindicated when they get high paying jobs. But to me, she sounds like an ogre. I'll take my mother, who might make a crack about my waistline, but does it while she's cramming pot roast down my throat.