Re­lax, Asian par­ents urged

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FAMILY -

US “Tiger Mum” Amy Chua has urged strict Asian par­ents to re­lax and give their chil­dren more free­dom but also to avoid the “ro­man­ti­cised” Western fo­cus on cre­ativ­ity over hard work.

The Chi­nese-Amer­i­can law pro­fes­sor at Yale Univer­sity sparked in­ter­na­tional con­tro­versy this year with her book Bat­tle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother, which de­tailed the strict parenting regime she put in place for her chil­dren and called this ap­proach the key to suc­cess.

“I think Western par­ents give kids too much free­dom, too much choice at a young age. ... Asian par­ents like in (South) Korea have op­po­site prob­lems, giv­ing too lit­tle free­dom, too lit­tle choice for our kids,” the 49-yearold said in a speech at a Seoul fo­rum last week.

She stressed that Asian par­ents of­ten put too much fo­cus on chil­dren’s aca­demic ex­cel­lence while fail­ing to foster so­cial skills and “emo­tional in­tel­li­gence”.

“As we head into the 21st cen­tury and global com­pe­ti­tion gets amy chua ad­vo­cates a bal­ance be­tween dif­fer­ent parenting philoso­phies. in­tense, sim­ply em­pha­sis­ing hard work and mem­o­ris­ing and long hours is not go­ing to be enough,” she said, urg­ing a bal­ance be­tween the dif­fer­ent parenting philoso­phies.

Chua crit­i­cised US par­ents and schools for de­fer­ring “too quickly to their young kids’ choices”, but also called on Asian par­ents at the other ex­treme to let go once their kids be­come old enough.

“To me, this type of parenting should be when kids are very young. I think it ac­tu­ally should start to end when they are around 11, 12, or 13,” said Chua, adding that she mis­tak­enly “went too far with it” with her daugh­ters Sophia and Louisa “Lulu” Chua-Ruben­feld, now aged 18 and 15 re­spec­tively.

Chua ear­lier met with a hail­storm of crit­i­cism, in­clud­ing death threats, af­ter ex­cerpts of her book were pub­lished in the Wall Street Jour­nal – a re­sponse which she said turned her life up­side-down.

In the book, she al­lows noth­ing less than top school marks from her two daugh­ters, no sleep­overs or watch­ing tele­vi­sion, and makes them do manda­tory pi­ano or vi­olin study.

Chua de­fended many of the parenting meth­ods de­scribed in her book, say­ing US par­ents mis­tak­enly pri­ori­tise a “ro­man­ti­cised no­tion of cre­ativ­ity” over the hard work and dis­ci­pline that is the ba­sis for such cre­ativ­ity.

She said her younger daugh­ter, who six years ago hated maths af­ter fail­ing a test, now cites it as her favourite sub­ject af­ter long hours of study in­volv­ing a stop­watch led her to ex­cel.

“It’s our job to pre­pare them for the fu­ture ... there’s some­thing very joy­ful and ful­fill­ing about do­ing some­thing ex­tremely well,” she told the World Knowl­edge Fo­rum hosted by Maeil Busi­ness News­pa­per.

Chua blamed Amer­ica’s “fear of Asia” for the heated re­sponse to her book, which she said was writ­ten as a fam­ily satire.

“I think the book tapped into Amer­ica’s deep­est anx­i­ety. One is fear of parenting and the sec­ond is Asia ris­ing with the US de­clin­ing,” she added. – AFP

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