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A Critique of “ Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” by Amy Chua
As youth development and growth become an important study in our society, there are many controversial opinions regarding the best method of parenting. Amy Chua argues in her essay, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” that children raised from Chinese mothers are more successful than those raised by Western mothers. She believes that Chinese children attain exceptional achievements from forced training and develop a stronger self-esteem from parental insults. As evidence to support her argument, Chua uses her daughters to show the success of kids raised from a Chinese mother. From my perspective, forcing and insulting a child is not a healthy way to raise children. There is also a lack of complete evidence in Chua’s essay as she only uses her own two daughters to show that the Chinese-style parenting method is indeed “superior” compared to the laissez-fare, Western style of parenting. Overall, Chua raises a debatable argument in stating that the Chinese method of using strict discipline to the extremes will raise “successful children”.
Amy Chua believes that children need to have tenacious training forced upon them in order to be successful, because “nothing is fun until you’re good at it.” From her understanding, children on their own never have the motivation to work, and that is why Chinese mothers need to force work upon her children. She maintains, correctly, that success can create happiness. But there are also countless hobbies, such as painting, dancing, and singing, that are enjoyable to perform even if the individual is not good at it. Also, consider the fact that there are many unfortunate children in the world that are born with medical conditions limiting their ability to master a certain skill. If those children were to be born in a Chinese family, well, to Chua, the mother would have frequent “screaming, hair-tearing explosions.”But even if the medically-conditioned child designates all his or her time to tenacious training, the outcome would still be the same. Chua also believes that being “good” at doing something is defined as being ranked number one in class or in a competition. I personally disagree with this, since there are many activities that cannot even have a ranking in the first place; how “good” you are at doing something will differ from one person’s opinion to another – it cannot be defined by a number!
Chua has confidence that in shaming a child, the parents are only “motivating” their children to improve. That could not be further from the truth. I, too, am raised from a Chinese background with a parental method much similar to that of Amy Chua’s. Once, when I was in 5th grade, I was required to memorize lines for a school play. After countless failures, my mom called me “garbage” and a “disgrace” for not working hard enough. According to Amy Chua, that should not have damaged my self-esteem but instead motivated me to recite more. I did the opposite: I withdrew from my role in the school play completely and was very hurt from my mother`s comment. I was so hurt that I decided to run to my aunt for advice and therefore alienated my mother from me. While using insults to aid in one`s progress might work well on Chua`s children, the same method definitely does not apply to every child.
The argument that Chua states, that the Chinese-style parenting method is superior compared to the western-style parenting method, is questionable, because her evidence is incomplete. Throughout her essay, she only uses her own two daughters as a source of evidence that Chinese children turn out to be far more accomplished than children from a western background. She assumes that all Chinese children are, like her daughters, “math whizzes and music prodigies” when it is not true. I have countless Chinese friends that do not excel in math and have no musical skill whatsoever. She also never took into consideration that there are numerous individuals from a Western background whom turn out to be very accomplished mathematicians or musicians. Naida Cole, for example, is a famous Canadian-American concert pianist that graduated from The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto at the age of 13. This achievement made her the second youngest student to receive the school's ARCT degree. For a child from a western-style parenting background, Naida Cole grew up to be quite successful, and very few will argue with that. Chua’s daughters are in fact excelled academically and skillfully, but western children can achieve the same results and not all Chinese children are musically and mathematically talented. Such bias assumptions weaken her statement considerably.
Amy Chua is right to point out that practice is crucial to a child`s success, but nothing pushed to the extremes is ever healthy for a young individual. She is wrong, however, that the use of cruel insults will help children to gain improvement and form a stronger inner confidence. This tactic may work well in some circumstances but backfire in others. The overall essay undeniably carries a strong statement, and it would be a very believable one too, should she had used other evidences other than her own two daughters. There is much debate over which parental system is ``superior``, and whether it be Amy Chua`s Chinese-style, the laissez-fare Western style, or any other method, this much cannot be changed : children are not like plastic, they cannot be moulded in a certain way – just let it be.
Word count : 913

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