In Defense of 'Ambivalent' Western Moms

Op-ed: 'Roaring like a tiger' might not work for all kids
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2011 3:13 PM CST

(Newser) – In response to Amy Chua's much-discussed book excerpt in praise of ultra-strict Chinese mothers, Ayelet Waldman begins her defense of "ambivalent" Western moms by rattling off a bunch of supposed no-nos she's allowed her four kids to do—quit music lessons, sleep over at a friend's, surf the web, etc. "I might point out, as others have, that Asian-American girls aged 15 to 24 have above average rates of suicide," she writes in the Wall Street Journal. "I might question the hubris of taking credit for success that is as likely to have resulted from the genetic blessings of musicality and intellect as from the 'Chinese' child-rearing techniques of shrieking and name calling."

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Waldman, however, doesn't continue on the attack. In fact, she cops to berating her oldest child over a lack of straight-A's, only to feel guilty about it afterward, and she's "grateful" to Chua for putting "some Chinese iron into my Nerf Western spine." She relates a story about one of her daughters overcoming dyslexia, and how Chua's family would have gone about it differently. "Roaring like a tiger" might help some kids and crush others, just as coddling might work for some but not others, she concludes. "Amy Chua and I both understand that our job as mothers is to be the type of tigress that each of our different cubs needs." Her full column is here.
(Read more parenting stories.)

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