The Madness Behind the Method

12 Jan
A mother holds up her child.
Image via Wikipedia

I just read this article from the Wall Street Journal. It’s titled “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior”, the author describes the parenting behind the stereotypical overachieving Chinese kid. In the beginning I found myself agreeing with the writer, but then when she went into further detail, I recoiled. I could never treat my child that way, nor do I want to, regardless of the results. The end does not justify the means, and who says the end is so admirable anyway, who defines academic success and musical accomplishments as success in life…on the other hand, Western parenting, doesn’t seem to be having much success in the respect and achievement department either. What is the happy medium? Where do you draw the lines?


Posted by on January 12, 2011 in Parenting


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4 responses to “The Madness Behind the Method

  1. Princess Lea

    January 12, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    I think for the Chinese it’s not just about success, per say. It’s about discipline. It’s not like a country with practically half the world’s population contains only “successes.”

    But American parenting is really laughable nowadays. I read in a parenting article by Benjie Stern that without being disciplined, a child cannot exercise self-control or practice bechirah. Now that is one thing a parent is definitely supposed to teach a child, according to the Talmud, along with making sure he gets a livelihood.

    Judaism would never condone name calling. And a child should have some free time, or else their brain will snap. But I pass plenty of bratty, whiny, rotten children on the street being led by parents who claim that they love them so much they let them do what they want. If they really loved them, they would raise them to properly behave and interact with this world, and put them to bed on time.

  2. AM Inspiration

    January 12, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Its a fine balance between giving discipline and direction and allowing children to make their own decisions and mistakes.

  3. PNN

    January 12, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Fascinating piece! Thank you for sharing. I think that, as with most things, there is a shevil hazahav, a golden mean, somewhere between the two extremes. However, I would have to think that the Torah ideal is far closer to the “Chinese approach” than it is to the current Western approach.

    Primum Non Nocere: Why Am I Not Frum?

  4. shatzileh

    January 12, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Oh, wow. I was appalled by most of the article, but I’ve got to say a lot of that is because I’m American. But it definitely was an eye-opener. What got me scared the most was, what if your child really /can’t/ do it? (‘Believe in her’ isn’t an answer – I mean really, truly, physically can’t.) Isn’t that horrible and frustrating? What if Lulu didn’t get it right in the end? Perhaps this mindset is the product of a culture that was forced to have few children, and so each child did have to excel for the purpose of the family.
    I do, however, think it’s wonderful how much these mothers believe in their children.
    I think there’s a time, place, and age for everything. Perhaps if, in the younger and more formative years you instill in your child a lot of self-confidence and love, you can build a relationship strong enough to withstand tough-love. I think I need to be older and wiser to offer more definitive answers.


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