Tuesday, January 25, 2011

snap judgments

I do not have to words to describe how very tired I am of The Great Amy Chua As Tiger Mother Debate.  To say that I am completely and utterly over the whole flipping thing is not accurate enough.  

Amy Chua didn't write a parenting manual, she wrote a memoir.  She shared vignettes of her family life.  Little snapshots of a couple of things that happened behind closed doors, when nobody was looking.  That's gutsy.  And what makes it even more gutsy is that the tales she tells are not flattering at all when taken out of context, which is exactly what the Happy-Go-Jump-To-Conclusions American Public are wont to do.


Most of these Happy-Go-Jumpers who are up in arms over how Amy Chua parents her children don't know any more about Amy Chua and her family than has been posted in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and Time Magazine.


The thing is, Amy Chua is real.  She told the truth about her parenting style, her successes and her failures.  The woman OWNED HER FAILURES, which is not an easy thing to do.  It's even more difficult to stand up and proclaim your failures to an angry mob who are shouting so loudly that they cannot even hear the punchline. Punchline is only somewhat the wrong word here; Chua's story is not a joke.

Amy Chua didn't write anything remotely revolutionary, in fact, I think she did the exact same thing that the rest of us bloggers do every.single.day.  She's practically a mommy blogger, for Pete's sake.  She wrote about  life, parenting, relationships... just like me.  That's what I write about.


The thing about parenting, and life, too, really, is that there are an infinite number of choices.  When I was a kid, I had every last Choose Your Own Adventure book.  If Suzy turns left, go to page 42.  If Suzy turns right, go to page 89.  And no matter how many choices the reader faced throughout the course of the book, the possible endings were few. 

With parenting, there are really only two outcomes.  Outcome 1: your child turns into a social pariah and does not behave responsibly; Outcome 2: your child turns into a responsible adult.  

So what if Amy Chua turns to page 42 and I turn to page 89, if both of us are raising people who will become responsible adults?  Why should it matter?  Doesn't everybody win if we parents do our jobs and grow fabulous people who will rule the world with wisdom and kindness and creativity and love?  

I would love it if everybody would shut up about Amy Chua.  She does her best.  She admits her failures.  She celebrates her victories.  And lucky for us, she wrote a book in which she clearly states what works for her and what doesn't.  But it's not just about what works.  It's about the working.  And that, I think, is the whole point.

don't forget.  


  1. Love this post. You put it so eloquently.

  2. I agree, except that I think Amy Chua probably likes this controversy, manufactured as it is by people who haven't even read the book. It can only help sales!

    (Then again, I am horribly cynical!)

  3. Don't you also think it's that scandal loving part of most people that like the scandal; act incredulous;but then can't/won't own up to their worst moments as a parent.

  4. Who is Amy Chua? I'm serious …

  5. I think Amy Chua is a very clever woman who wrote her memoir knowing full well that she would stir the masses and pad her bank account. I am guilty of having not read her book yet and can only comment on the media excerpts I have read. Her feigned surprise during interviews at the controversy are really off putting.

    Each of us have to find our own path, as you so perfectly wrote, but I can't help but feel sorry for what Amy Chua might have missed out on while she was busy dictating her regime.

    While most are bashing, you chose to see it from a different perspective and for that I give you Props!

  6. Pamela - I mentioned to you on fb that we know a TON of Tiger Families because my kid plays classical piano. And we have met a ton of fabulous kids who were raised this way....kids who are fairly happy within their cultural definitions of happy. Their parents cherish them and their lives basically revolve around the kids and their activities and accomplishments. As unschooling hippy-folk - our Tiger Family friends are equally astounded by us and our children. Especially since we have a tiger cub that popped out unexpectantly (she is Asian on the inside). There are a lot of ways to parent successfully that do not involve "abuse," and they need not resemble each other. I do think that some of the children we know pursue various activities to perfection because it is what is expected of them, not because it is what they love. And I think this is a cultural thing...they do not expect to discover a passion and follow it...but they're not missing it...doing well and pleasing their parents is what seems to make them happy - so who's to judge their happiness? Piano makes my kid happy and I couldn't imagine her doing it otherwise...but that is our view of happiness :).

  7. I have to agree with the cynics here - AC intentionally marketed this in an extremely controversial way. It is irritating how we play right into that hand every time. But good for her, she can laugh all the way to bank.

  8. I really didn't know anything about this whole tiger mom chaos I was seeing on Twitter so I am glad I read your post. No mother is perfect and I can say with certainly that I am not brave enough to share my worst days with the world. I like memoirs, will add this to my list.


talk to me, people. because you know i get all giddy when you do.