A recent post in the Wall Street Journal by a high-powered Chinese American mom baldly purports to say Why Chinese Moms Are Superior.* Apparently it’s because it’s an approach that can turn out first-violinists and neurosurgeons.

The post comes on the heels of recent international tests scores that showed students from China (Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Macau) surging from seemingly nowhere to take over the highest rankings on achievement tests measuring reading, science, and math among fifteen year olds. The results have made much of the rest of the world cringe at the mediocre results of their own children as measured by PISA.

I’m sure the post will generate a lot of responses–in the finger pointing that ensued after PISA results were released, parents were seen as the main reason for American children’s mediocrity.

And the responses from other Asian American parents have started to trickle in. Tina Chase asks Are Western Mothers Inferior?, with the mild hope that Asian American parenting can be a middle way between lax “Western” parenting and overbearing “Chinese” parenting. Betty Liu’s blog is much more refreshingly honest in its critique: Parents Like Amy Chua Are The Reason Why Asian Americans Like Me Are in Therapy.

So, now that the pot’s been stirred, what do you think? I’ll follow up with my own critique of the tempest in a green-tea pot later. For now I’ll say it’s interesting how American insecurity about international competitiveness has suddenly vaulted a tiny, completely ignored corner of the parenting blogosphere–Asian American parenting–into the spotlight, for some good (but many wrongheaded) reasons.

*(I have much to say about this, have in fact been blogging about feminist Asian Pacific American parenting issues at my personal blog P i l l o w b o o k since becoming a parent in 2003, and at Los Angeles Moms Blog here in particular and here. But I want to hear what you have to say about it first.)


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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by lisa @helpamotherout. lisa @helpamotherout said: RT @cyn3matic: Comments, pls! Via @K12NN Model Minority Parenting Designed to Stir the Pot http://bit.ly/fb4dU2 […]

  2. Nicole 9 years ago

    I interview kids who want to go to MIT, many of whom are Chinese, as you can imagine (plus Indian, Korean, etc.) and boy is it refreshing to see the varying talents. 10 years ago everyone played piano or violen (since the age of 4 of course), were in the same clubs and wanted to be doctors or computer scientists. Now I get those who do biology research at Stanford and hike the wilderness on weekends, choreograph modern dance and build robots, and yes, play the violen or flute and program computers. They clearly work hard and long hours, but the passion shows through.

  3. cynematic 9 years ago

    Thanks for the comment, Nicole! Among many things, I detect a distinct coastal bias in how people interpret being Asian Pacific American. It's hard not to sound California-centric and boosterish, but here goes: I really do think we have a critical mass of APAs here on the Left Coast and that means greater variety in the ways APAs do things. We have your tech geeks, doctors, engineers, high-powered attorneys and Silicon Valley gazillionaires, yes, but also your aspiring actors, singers, musicians, filmmaker-producers, progressive rabble-rousers, writers, pro surfers, fashion designers, animators/graphics artists, and other various and sundry hipster fields of pursuit. We have APA bus drivers and judges and postal workers and realtors and mechanics… everything.

    Maybe I'm biased because I live in LA, where there's a thriving community of APA artists of all kinds. But I see the diversity and feel hopeful that my generation of APA parents will be much better balanced and have a higher Emotional Intelligence Quotient about things than our immigrant parents (of a certain age and generation) did. We are even — gasp — gay-friendly. šŸ™‚ Was that just a lot of words to say things are better, generally, in California? Maybe. šŸ˜€

  4. Trang 9 years ago

    Chua's story just made me so, so, so sad. I appreciate your comment, cynematic. I'd recommend The Echo Center in LA: http://www.theechocenter.org/

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