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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

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Harriet

My goodness. I'm glad you read it so I don't have to. I've vaguely seen comments elsewhere but your review seems to really nail what is odd and ambivalent about this book. I'm sure you are spot on about her own identity problems. It's not an approach I ever took and my kids have turned out just fine.

Helen

I was intrigued about how certain she seemed about everything. I mean, pretty much every parent I know is prey to self-doubt, but she wasn't - or at least, not in the book, despite almost utterly alienating Louisa (she chalks this up as a success because she 'knew when to pull back'). And I found her way of thinking about most things so very black and white, and that was a pity. Still, I hope I haven't put anyone off reading it!

Jenny @ Reading the End

Oof yeah, I remember all the furore when this first came out. It doesn't sound like I would enjoy it -- even reading the excerpts is making me feel rather stressed! Poor girls! And poor everyone else around them because listening to unenthusiastic violin players is NOT GREAT as I recall from my own childhood. (I was allowed to give up straight away, I am happy to report.)

Helen

I completely agree! But in fact Louisa, the daughter who rebelled, maintains that she loves playing the violin and still does play for pleasure. It seems it was specifically her mother and her regime that she was rebelling against, and frankly, who could blame her? The older daughter, Sophia, also seemed to enjoy playing the piano much of the time. They played concerts and won prizes and were clearly talented. It wasn't that Chua was forcing them to do something they hated - that would indeed have been horrible.

It's curious that she concentrated so much on the music, yet never intended the children to become professional musicians. This doesn't quite fit with her theory that you have to work hard and achieve academically to succeed in life. It seems to be more her obsessive competitiveness that takes what could have been a pleasurable hobby and turns it into the focus of their entire lives. Stressful indeed.

Stefanie

I remember when this book was all the rage, it seemed like everyone had an opinion whether or not they read it and most parents I know had no good words to say about Chua and her methods. So how interesting it must be to read it now, after everything has died down. Fascinating that she isn't really sure why she wrote it. She must have had some reason, justification, exoneration, something. All I can say is, I'm glad she isn't my mom!

Helen

It's hard for us 'Westerners' to like this sort of approach, but I suppose that if your world view places paramount importance on educational and material gain, then it's a logical consequence that you would do your utmost to ensure your children succeed in those spheres. And of course in much of the world a good education makes the difference between a decent life and poverty and it really is that important. It's just that to my mind she seems to carry it too far. Her daughters are not going to starve if they don't practise their instruments on holiday, after all.

Chua never discusses how she fosters in her daughters any sort of moral or social dimension, which isn't to say that she doesn't nor that they lack this, but it feels like an important omission. And yes, I'm glad she's not my mum too! I'd have been crushed by it all!

Carol S

I've always detested the sound of this book, I agree with Harriet - my children too,have turned out happy and hard working and with a sense of personal decency, integrity and responsibility.
I studied Comparative Education in the 70's. Ethnically Chinese teenagers had a higher rate of suicide than other ethnicities due to this parental pressure. Cruel.

Helen

That's dreadful, Carol, I didn't realise that. Chua certainly doesn't mention that statistic! Maybe she has indeed been cherry-picking. It is definitely at odds with her theory that children are actually much more resilient than we give them credit for.

Liz

Interestingly, I work for a boss who is Chinese, and I see these same traits in this person as you report in the book about Chinese parenting style. It's quite a change from other managerial styles, and not one that I recommend. I can only imagine how his family are raised.

Helen

Hello Liz, thanks for your comment! :)

I can see that this sort of approach wouldn't work at all well in a Western context, and I don't think I'd appreciate my boss behaving like this either (though I have worked for people who were difficult in other ways...). Good luck with your boss!

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