LIE Links: Amy Chua edition

How to Raise a Model Minority [the Root] h/t Racialicious

Unfortunately, Chua does not challenge the basic paradigm of competitive-martyr mothering, filled with daily servitude at the altar of homework and “enrichment” activities. But she does dismiss, with a confident swagger, the overindulgent American, everyone-is-a-winner, smothering style. The Wall Street Journal headline for her essay declared “Chinese Mothers Superior” and poked a finger in the collective eye of formerly smug Americans, inflaming insecurities about the meteoric rise of the East.

Chua rejects the American middle-class, touchy-feely parenting style supposedly guaranteed to stack the deck in favor of the spawn of these hardworking mothers. Such a guarantee is a lie, of course. As my son learned from listening to NPR, this meritocracy works perfectly as long as you are not a young black boy.

Still, Chua reminds us that intelligence is not determined by the gene pool; it’s made. That is the simple reason immigrants of all stripes do so well in this country. Immigrants outhustle, outgun. They work their asses off and never get comfortable or let up, or relax into American social excesses because they have “arrived.” They hold their ground, remain centered in their own non-Western cultural norms, fending off child insubordination and rudeness.

Paper Tiger Mom [Rice Daddies]

I shudder when I am reminded of how close I was to becoming “Chua Chinese” (Please Note: I am using Chinese as defined by Amy) – a Chinese parent so obsessed with controlling the ends there is no thought given to the consequences of the means. Despite my background as an educator and having actual classroom teaching experience, once my eldest entered Pre-K I fell easily in line with what I perceived as the tenets of being a “proper” parent molding “proper” and successful children.

I would be a full Chua Chinese parent if I hadn’t just by chance seen Jack Neo’s movies: I Not Stupid and I Not Stupid Too. There is a scene in the former where a mother on the advice of her coworkers beats her son with a switch because he failed to score to her satisfaction on a test. The crying boy begs, “Please mommy don’t hit me anymore…” The scene is particularly poignant because the actress playing the mother does a good job of conveying her confusion at her actions. She is not sure it is the right way to parent but her peers seem so confident and judge her poorly for not doing it (so she does it).

The latter film is poignant because it begins by putting the following question up on the screen: When was the last time you told your kids you loved them? I read that Jack Neo, the film’s writer, director, and actor, was deeply affected by Zhou Hong’s philosophy of Appreciation Education when he was writing the sequel’s script. It shows. It overtly restates Hong’s descriptions of Appreciation Education.

Amy Chua Update: Enter the Daughter [Racialicious]

The controversy over Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother spread out this week online, when her oldest daughter shared her own story with The New York Post.

Written as a letter to her “Tiger Mom,” Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld (pictured above, on the right) defends her mother’s sense of humor and her parenting (“No outsider can know what our family is really like”) but also, unnervingly, seems to cast aspersions on critics:

 A lot of people have accused you of producing robot kids who can’t think for themselves. Well, that’s funny, because I think those people are . . . oh well, it doesn’t matter. At any rate, I was thinking about this, and I came to the opposite conclusion: I think your strict parenting forced me to be more independent. Early on, I decided to be an easy child to raise. Maybe I got it from Daddy — he taught me not to care what people think and to make my own choices — but I also decided to be who I want to be. I didn’t rebel, but I didn’t suffer all the slings and arrows of a Tiger Mom, either. I pretty much do my own thing these days — like building greenhouses downtown, blasting Daft Punk in the car with Lulu and forcing my boyfriend to watch “Lord of the Rings” with me over and over — as long as I get my piano done first.

To Love in this Way [Not that kind of Asian doctor]

Asian American parenting has become uncomfortably hyper-visible this past week. Amy Chua’s provocative piece on her parenting practices actually has very little to say that is worth very much though. Her facts are wrong. Her assumptions pretty ignorant. Her “philosophy” and suggestions thoughtless, with remarkably little reflection on the deeper reasons why she does what she does and the very disturbing implications of what she does. But what she says matters, not because she is right or her ideas have any merit, but because her actions and beliefs reveal a dimension of the startling horror that can be Asian American life.

In the quickly proliferating responses on the internet, many have criticized Chua’s sweeping generalizations, citing their own differing childhoods. But what is scary isn’t that Chua makes culturally essentialist and dehistoricized assertions about what it means to be “Chinese” (or “Asian”) and “Western.” What is scary is that those of us who are Asian American recognize something of ourselves and our childhoods in this strictly regimented life of studying and music practice: the rules, the tunnel-vision, the shaming, the threats of disownment, the never-ending indebtedness, and the definitively laid-out future. Become what we want, what you owe to us, or you are nothing. We give you a past, you give us your future.

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