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"Chinese Mothers" and figure skating

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by PUNKPRINCESS, Feb 4, 2011.



    This is a topic I wanted to discuss as a spin-off from the "Frank vs. Mirai" thread.

    MR-FAN mentioned this article and writer:


    I personally found the article fascinating, if a little appalling at the same time. There is an extremely strong case for instilling discipline, perseverance, and confidence in your child to teach them that they can work hard and achieve whatever they want. Now, I hate to be contrary to Ms. Chua, because I am almost certain that she is far more intelligent than I am. (My parents weren't particularly brilliant or educated, while Amy's father, according to Wikipedia, "is an Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences professor at the University of California, Berkeley and is known as the father of nonlinear circuit theory, cellular neural networks, and discovered the memristor." :eek: ) The major points on which I agree with her are that things are most fun when you get good at them, and that children (well, young children) don't necessarily learn discipline on their own, so that it's up to the parent to take control at that stage. However, her LAST paragraph is what I feel is the best of the contrasting parenting philosophies she cites:

    I can't see why combining both isn't possible? It would seem to me that the combination is ideal.

    Also, I do not understand the obsession with either just the violin or piano. Why just those two for choices?

    Anyway, how would you categorize the successes or failures of the "Chinese Mothering" style of parents of figure skaters?

    For example, Tiffany Chin would count, to me, as one of the worst examples of how Chinese Mothering fails. Something was a little "off" about Mira Leung, as well.

    Would Yu-Na Kim count as an example of successful Chinese Mothering? (but then again, she was coached by Orser who taught her to take it easy, and Wilson may also be a moderating, confounding element.)

    Danny Kwan and Kristi's parents seem like moderates to me. Both Michelle and Kristi seemed to have a lot of discipline, but clearly truly enjoyed themselves out on the ice.

    Any insights into Asada's parents would be welcome. I imagine they weren't strict disciplinarians, but at the same time,they probably didn't need to discipline her much. She seems to be a naturally happy hard worker.

    And outside of skating, anyone hear of any good examples of Chinese Mothering, or Moderate Mothering? I really think the middle way is the best way. Discipline is important, but so is some freedom, choice, exploration and passion.
  2. taf2002

    taf2002 zexy demon

    Kristi & Mirai are not Chinese, ethnically they are Japanese. Yu-na is Korean. I doubt they got Chinese mothering.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2011
  3. mmscfdcsu

    mmscfdcsu Skating Pairs with Drew

    Hmmmm. I thought they were American.
    bardtoob and (deleted member) like this.
  4. attyfan

    attyfan Well-Known Member

    Yu-Na isn't.
  5. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

    :lol: I think my german/american parents from Minnesota are really Chinese. :)
    PeterG and (deleted member) like this.
  6. mmscfdcsu

    mmscfdcsu Skating Pairs with Drew

    Yes, I didn't read it all. I'm tired. :p
  7. jjane45

    jjane45 Active Member

    Interesting article indeed. What Amy Chua described applies loosely to the East Asian culture overall, Japanese and Korean parenting are much closer to Chinese than to US or Europe. Just look at the amount of after school tutoring efforts!
  8. AndyWarhol

    AndyWarhol Well-Known Member

    I think Danny Kwan would be considered a Chinese Mother (Father)


    Can you please read the article before replying?

  10. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    This article has been discussed in depth on the board. Perhaps you could read that thread before getting snippy with people pointing out that you were lumping several Asian skaters (and noticeably only Asian skaters) together as if they were all Chinese.


    Anyone who interpreted my first post in that manner is stupid. Else I might as well have said Chinese mothers and not put it into quotes ("Chinese Mothers.") And clearly Danny Kwan isn't a mother. Basic reading comprehension.

    No one in that other thread (which isn't primarily geared towards figure skating discussion anyway) mentioned non-Asian "Chinese Mothers", either. :blah:
  12. Mafke

    Mafke Well-Known Member

  13. iarispiralllyof

    iarispiralllyof Active Member

    If you read Amy's book she's supposed to realize how wrong she was for being so extreme in the 3rd part of the book. It's not a how to guide, just a memoir. Watch her interviews where she basically states that a mixture of parenting styles is ideal and that it was a learning process for her. Basically some of the more extreme passages from her book were used to publicize it for shock value. She actually comes across as a very nice lady in real life lol

    I do think you bring up a good point. One of the reasons surely for her daughters' success when dealing with her type of discipline is that both of their parents are upper middle class to begin with, both yale professors (with grandparents and aunts/uncles equally distinguished). they undoubtedly had special tutors and such...hardly typical of most children.

    Anyway there have been a lot of studies lumping many Asian-American immigrants together based on their success due to shared Confucian and other cultural ideals. Amy herself has addressed this in books past and present.


    :lol: :scream: I feel almost racist for laughing at that...except the ending is gold. ;)

    RE: Chua. Yes. I read most of the pages of the other thread and both the reply from Brooks and criticisms based on "not knowing how the article would be received" fall flat to me. It seems that Chua knew exactly how the article would be received: as a good talking piece! Brooks, you've been plaaaaaaaaayed. I will definitely be picking up her book sometime. I don't think that Chua's and her husband's family just have the advantages of distinguished educations and good finances. I think they've all made good choices as far as intelligent partners go. One can push someone who has the ability to do something; what happens when that child simply can't?

    And relatedly, I think that's why I find figure skating in particular so interesting. I don't know if dogged pursuit and practice practice practice make for the best and/or most successful skaters (cue Evan Lysacek, hard worker but I don't know if he's the most enjoyable for all to watch.) Certain physiques and body types may have certain advantages. Practice and discipline take care of technique for the most part, but mental is needed to compete well, and emotional/expressive skills in order to effectively make the performances soar. I'm obviously grossly simplifying things, as good emotional health also contributes to motivation and practice, etc. but errr...I guess my whole point is that I don't think the Chua model applies well to figure skating.

    I could be wrong. And thanks to iaris and jjane45 for pointing out the common Confucian/East Asian similarities across the different nationalities. I think one would have to be living under the figure skating rock to not realize that Mao and Yu-Na are not of the same (Chinese) nationality considering the fan wars. :rofl: It does make me stop and think, however, if Yu-Na is an example of the Chua parenting model working. I still don't think Michelle is an example. The Kwan family seems to be very sports-oriented in general, and I've never heard of Michelle mentioning any piano or violin lessons. It just sounds like to me that she chose a sport she loved and went all-in, rather than Danny dictating all the terms and choices.
  15. Maximillian

    Maximillian Well-Known Member

    I think that you've been plaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayed if you believe that!:lol:


    Hah, you think?

    If so, I've been played well. :rofl:

    I guess I've made my choice: I shall be a Chinese Mother!
    RunnersHigh and (deleted member) like this.
  17. victoriaheidi

    victoriaheidi New Member

    Maybe I'm missing something, but Chua refers to "Chinese" as more of a "type" of parent, not as a nationality.
    RunnersHigh and (deleted member) like this.
  18. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

    It's quite shocking that somebody making a statement this racist and moronic, lumping together different kind of people into a group with a label that is very offensive (inverted commas or not) and generalising about them based on some anecdotal information can actually get printed. :rolleyes:


    That's not to say that there aren't differences between the way children are brought up in individualist and collectivist societies. There obviously are. But that is way above Amy Chua's level of discourse.


    Really? I think she was taking the stereotype and declaring that parents of different nationalities and ethnicities participate in said stereotype. That's undoing the racism, no?
  20. victoriaheidi

    victoriaheidi New Member

    I'm not sure that her goal was racism. I think she was trying to say that the women she knows of these other nationalities are similar to her in parenting style, so she categorizes them as "Chinese mothers" like herself, not "Chinese."
  21. ks777

    ks777 Well-Known Member

    I really like the way how the american kids are raised here. I grew up in Japan.. so we had so much home work every day and I couldn't enjoy my childhood at all. I don't really remember playing with other kids growing up that much. During the summer break, we had so much homework that I didn't enjoy it. I wish I grew up here. The kids seem to be so much happier here.
  22. iarispiralllyof

    iarispiralllyof Active Member

    Um .. ..
  23. neptune

    neptune Well-Known Member

  24. neptune

    neptune Well-Known Member

    As many problems as I have with the "Chinese" style of parenting, the "American" style of parenting is really no better overall, and in many respects may even be worse. As PUNKPRINCESS said, the best parenting would be something in the middle of these two extremes. It seems that as Asian kids grow up, they "work, work, work." OTOH, many Americans kids just want to "play, play, play" and expect to be entertained constantly. They may end up watching endless hours of TV, and not getting much mental or physical exercise. Instead of being obsessive-compulsive about work, they are afflicted instead with ennui and apathy.

    Basically, discipline and freedom need to be carefully balanced. I personally think it's better to err slightly on the strict side than on the lenient side. But it's so important for a child to feel loved unconditionally--I think that's the real secret to achievement. That way, you achieve because you want to, not because you feel you have to in order to win approval or love. If you're continually seeking validation as a person through your work, then your self-esteem will become like a yo-yo.
    manleywoman and (deleted member) like this.
  25. jlai

    jlai Title-less

    Just wanna point out that Chua is, I suspect, by no means an extreme "Chinese" parent. The reason she got criticized is the way her parenting is depicted in the media. If you follow skating closely you will hear stories about parents pushing the kids too hard in skating and even not letting your kids see the doctor even when injured (like Jenny Kirk's mom). To me that's a heck more serious than not allowing your kids to pee.

    But there's no public outcry over them because they are not mentioned in the media or not portrayed as "crazy moms" by journalists. (I remember Jenny's mom being depicted as a "good mom" back when she was alive...)

    Sometimes the "crazy moms" are the ones you don't think is crazy.
  26. neptune

    neptune Well-Known Member

    Yes, that makes sense. The most dangerous people out there are the ones who are expert at concealing their craziness. And then when revelations come to light, most people have difficulty believing them.
  27. geod2

    geod2 New Member

  28. neptune

    neptune Well-Known Member

  29. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

    Using "Chinese mothers" label kinda implies that it's normal/usual for Chinese mothers to behave this way.

    And whilst it's true to an extent, the extent being the priorities and the general attitude mentioned by Chua, the same definitely can't be said about the way it is achieved.

    Chua sounds totally psycho, in a really scary and dangerous way.

    I don't even know where to begin but I'll try to explain what I mean, by analysing that quote:

    If an American child gets bad maths grades, the European-American parent is likely to assume that the child just isn't good at maths.

    If an Asian child gets bad maths grades, the Asian parent is likely to assume an environmental reason. This doesn't necessarily mean that the child didn't work enough. It might also means that their teacher isn't good enough.

    So you could expect an Asian parent's response to be to take our practice tests and exercises and make sure that their child practices more and probably give them a helping hand too.

    When Chua says the solution is always to excoriate, punish and shame, she might be speaking for herself but not everybody is as crazy and psycho as her.
  30. iarispiralllyof

    iarispiralllyof Active Member

    I think you should read the book before you act like you know her inside out.

    Some cynical people are saying she used the negative publicity to sell her book and is only now backpedaling when it's convenient, but regardless of her true intentions the fact of the matter is if you actually read the book she comes off as a much less extreme person who has actually grown and learned a lot through the process of parenting. In fact, read the front cover of the book. It says:

    "Battle hymn of the tiger mother. This is a story about a mother, two daughters and a dog. This was supposed to be a story about how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than western ones. Instead it's about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory and how I was humbled by a 13 year old". This isn't even the back, it's the front cover.

    I am repeating myself but If you actually read the book she is supposed to realize the error of her ways and retreat from that extremist parenting model she gloats about early on in the book (and in those quotes you're using now). In interviews she is seen on video talking about how the key is to expect highly of your children (because expecting them to not to measure up often becomes a self fulfilling prophecy) and that while you should expect success, failure does not and should not mean you no longer love your child. Ultimately "their best" should be enough.

    Early on in her book she seems to be very narrow minded about what signifies success or respectability, only deeming piano and violin respectable and having a disdain for theater - yet in a TV interview she states plainly that success can be found in any field through many means (including outside of academia), and that she has personally known countless children (many of them her own students) who have gone on to become successful people despite being products of a myriad of different parenting styles. She states at first that her children aren't allowed on playdates....but then she ultimately relents. Parents change all the time. It's life. My parents' parenting style certainly changed/evolved as I grew. And so did Amy Chua's.

    I think you're just giving a knee-jerk reaction without actually delving deeply into the topic, which a lot of people did (myself included) before reading further into the matter. This is a very sensitive issue and has struck a chord with a lot of people, especially Asian-Americans who experienced similar types of parenting.
    I'm certainly not saying I agree with a lot of the methods she used which I also found to be extreme, but at the least she shows that she was quite the hands-on/active parent in a way that many parents would be jealous of. Many parents can't even help their children with their Calculus homework or whatnot because they can barely remember it themselves, and after a long day of work, even some of the best-intentioned parents end up letting their children off the hook and turning potentially gifted kids into slackers.

    As for Amy's intelligence (which is what I'm assuming you were talking about when you made the comment about "level of discourse"), she's a brilliant woman. Besides being a Yale professor and coming from one of the most distinguished families I've heard of, I remember reading about one of her earlier books "World on Fire" long before "Tiger Mother" came out..dealing with market-dominant minorities, it was extremely interesting and a bestseller despite not garnering the same type of controversy "Tiger Mother" is getting.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2011