Tiger Mums: Chinese Author Claims Western Parenting Skills Are Not Up To Scratch

19/03/2011 23:51 | Updated 22 May 2015

chinese mum with childA new book claims that Chinese mums' parenting skills are vastly superior to those of Western parents.

The book, Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother, says Chinese mums have no worries about their offspring's happiness or self-esteem, and that Western parenting methods merely indulge and give in to children.

The book claims that whilst our children are vegging out in front of computer games and television, their Chinese counterparts are being drilled by their Tiger Mums in every subject - until they get it right.

The book's author, Amy Chau, a professor at Yale University, says: 'I'm using the term "Chinese mother" loosely. I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers, by choice or otherwise. I'm also using the term "Western parents" loosely. Western parents come in all varieties.

All the same, even when Western parents think they're being strict, they usually don't come close to being Chinese mothers. For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments 30 minutes every day. An hour at most. For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part. It's hours two and three that get tough.'

The author is mum to two daughters, Sophia, 18, and Lulu, 14. She claims to have lived by the rules of her book:

'Here are some of the things my daughters were never allowed to do:

  • attend a sleepover
  • have a playdate
  • be in a school play
  • complain about not being in a school play
  • watch TV or play computer games
  • choose their own extracurricular activities
  • get any grade less than an A
  • not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • not play the piano or violin.

She acknowledges her methods are 'strict' and admits she does have some regrets over some aspects of her extreme parenting, telling an American TV show that she once called her daughter 'garbage' when she'd been rude. But she insists her methods get results:

'I wish I hadn't been so harsh with them at times, but if I had it to do all over again, I think I would basically do the same thing, with small adjustments,' she told the Today programme.

'I think there are many aspects of western parenting that some Asian parents find horrifying.'

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