Thanks to my BFF who came up with the title of this blog post when she jokingly said:
At this rate, Amy Chua is gonna be a verb:
“So, do you Amy Chua?”
“Yup! I Amy Chua my kid.”
“Wah, numerous peer-reviewed double-blind studies have found that the Amy Chua causes harm.”
“Seriously? Oh no, I Amy Chua-ed my kid! How?”
“Well, you can always start a therapy fund to un-Amy Chua your kid.”
“Dang you, Amy Chua!” *waves fist angrily at book*
Just in case you haven’t read about the hype, you should take a look at the recent article on WSJ by Amy Chua titled “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior“.
I decided to address this topic because it suddenly occured to me that my last blog post could so easily be misconstrued to be pro-“Amy Chua”. For the record, I don’t agree with Amy Chua. I believe in maximising a child’s potential by starting young. I believe in teaching children focus and helping them inculcate healthy habits that promote success in future. I also believe that success is not only defined by how well a person performs but also by their emotional state. A person is not truly successful if they are the CEO of a multi-national company with an equally accomplished spouse, but secretly suffers from depression or any other hidden psychological issues.
Amy says that Asian parents have more successful children because they Amy Chua their children. No doubt many of these children are successful academically and in their professional life, but many also suffer emotionally. Clearly, the Amy Chua method isn’t quite so “effective” after all once you dig deeper. And based on one of the comments I read from Quora discussing the article, it appears that Amy Chua herself may also agree after nearly losing her second daughter. It would appear that the WSJ article deliberately exposed only a half-truth to Amy’s story as a publicity stunt for her book. Of course, I will never really know if that is true unless I read her book and I don’t intend to because I can think of many better ways to spend my time.
While I have written a lot about extra-curricular activities for children, there is a purpose for all the activities I have suggested. Each activity is designed to help develop children in specific ways that I believe will be beneficial to them in future (for example, benefits of teaching your child music and sign language). However, these activities are merely recommendations – it is not an enforced, one-size-fits-all list. The idea is to provide the children the opportunity to broaden their experiences in an engaging way. At the end of the day, it’s all about exposure and offering choices.
As parents it is our job to encourage and motivate with love. I write “motivate with love” because Amy Chua’s idea of motivating involved calling her daughter “lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic” – so let’s not misconstrue the true meaning of the words here. As parents, we can only guide our children and hope for the best. We respect the choices that our children make because, as Wennie from TweedleWink always says, “We honour the child”.
Amy may have believed that insulting her daughter was a way of motivating her daughter to play that piece of music and while it appeared to have worked for her, there are others ways to help a child without having to resort to name calling. It reminded me of another similar incident involving a Shichida mother and her child who was struggling to play a piece for a competition. In the end, her son managed to win the competition despite the fact that he was never able to play the piece perfectly before. Instead of insulting her child and calling him names, she taught him to practice the piece with mental imaging and used Shichida’s 5 minute suggestion the night before the competition to help him.
We all want our children to be successful, but I think the cost of their emotional health is a price too high to pay. There are ways to motivate without being abusive and I believe these methods will be more successful in the long run. We want our children to be able to take the foundation that we have helped them build and create something beautiful thereafter, not children whose masterpiece will crumble to dust because the foundation it was built upon was poorly constructed.