Asian Parents

This is based on the excerpt of a book by Amy Chua, a Chinese mother raising her children in America, called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

Amy’s children were not allowed to:

  • 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 the violin
  • Not play the piano or the violin

Differences in Education between Chinese and Western countries:

  • In one study of 50 Western American mothers and 48 Chinese immigrant mothers, about70% of the Western mothers said either that “stressing academic success is not good for children” or that “parents need to foster the idea that learning is fun.” On the other hand, roughly 0% of the Chinese mothers felt the same way.
  •  The majority of the Chinese mothers said that they believe their children can be “the best” students, that “academic achievement reflects successful parenting,” and that if children did not excel at school then there was “a problem” and parents “were not doing their job.”

Differences between Chinese and Western parents:

  • Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight As
  • Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best.
  • Chinese parents can say, “You’re lazy. All your classmates are getting ahead of you.”
  • Chinese mothers can say to their daughters, “Hey fatty—lose some weight.”
  • Western parents have to tiptoe around the issue, talking in terms of “health”, and their kids still end up in therapy for eating disorders and negative self-image.

Why Chinese and Western parents are different:

  • Western parents are extremely anxious about their children’s self-esteem.  They worry about how their children will feel if they fail at something, and they constantly try to reassure their children about how good they are.
  • Chinese parents assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently
  • Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn’t get them, the Chinese parent assumes it’s because the child didn’t work hard enough
  • Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything, because the parents have sacrificed and done so much for their children. Chinese children must spend their lives repaying their parents by obeying them and making them proud.
  • Westerners don’t have the same view of children being permanently indebted to their parents. “Children don’t choose their parents,” “They don’t even choose to be born. It’s parents who foist life on their kids, so it’s the parents’ responsibility to provide for them. Kids don’t owe their parents anything. Their duty will be to their own kids.” (A Western parents view)
  • Chinese parents believe that they know what is best for their children and therefore override all of their children’s own desires and preferences.

In conclusion:

Western parents try to respect their children’s individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions, supporting their choices, and providing positive reinforcement and a nurturing environment. By contrast, the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they’re capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.


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