On Chinese mothers and sparing the rod

The article on Chinese mothers being superior, raised a lot of eyebrows, and that is putting it mildly. It was soon followed up by one on how American mothers are superior. And finally, this piece by Vivek  Wadhwa, on why the American schooling system is better.

I found the whole argument as much fun and as ridiculous as the working mom-SAHM argument. It’s always fun to be on the sidelines and watch people squawk in indignation. Particularly this sort of baiting (race baiting in this case) – I’ve fallen for it before, but I’m not getting sucked into it again.

I’ll dive head first into my opinion. To begin with, it is really hard for Indians to point fingers at the Chinese and write scathing pieces, because while we’re fighting over the border, we’re buying their goods and in all the ways that matter, we’re just like them. Population of more than a billion, fighting for limited resources. Is it any wonder that our children have to struggle and we have to work hard with them?

At this point at least 50% of the readers are going to say, “Oh I would never pressurise my child.” Well, that is great and good for you and your child. But there are 50% who will stay silent for fear of censure. And there is a world out there tightening the screws which is why every year around the board exams you will hear of school children committing suicide. In my very own complex in Gurgaon I have met at least 5-6 mothers who asked me why I didn’t try for X or Y school, well known for their excellent board results. I try to explain to them that it doesn’t matter to me because I feel the pressure is too much for our kids. And they look at me uncomprehendingly because they can’t understand what sort of mother wouldn’t want her kid to score 90+. And these people are our peers, our social equals, people who have the same educational qualifications as us and are earning what we earn. They’ve pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and they want their kids to continue that ascent.

During my grandfather’s time, jobs were hard to come by and he held on to his for 30 years. Today at a certain socio-economic level, jobs are easy to come by. For the clerk at the bottom of the food chain, not so much. It’s why I sit back peacefully on a slow track, knowing that the day I want a job I’ll have more options than I will need. It’s why the OA has changed four jobs and today has a cabin and someone carrying his laptop bag in (much to his embarrassment!) and setting it up on his table.

We’re not really well off but I think in a pinch we could send the kids abroad for further studies if they wanted it. We’re also the parents who pulled their son out of one of those regular mass schools where he got beaten and broke down under the pressure of it. A Chinese or even a regular desi mother would have sent her kid back in and said – ‘Don’t come crying if you get beaten.’ My family runs a school in our hometown and I’ve lost count of the number of parents I encountered, saying “Sir, agar yeh baat na sune to khoob peetiyega” – If he doesn’t obey you, beat him. These parents  don’t have the luxury of being gentle with their kids. If their kids don’t get caned in school and take it in their stride, they won’t make it in the harsh world out there.

And it’s amusing to see this collective gasp of horror and outrage as though its unheard of for a parent to be strict with their child. Was the West not there just yesterday? Were schoolboys not caned? Did they not come up with the saying, You have to be cruel to be kind? Have they not heard of Spare the rod and spoil the child? So they have moved on since, but why behave as though this is some crazy Oriental shit?

The OA got caned in school, as did my brother. They’ve turned out not just fine, but brilliant. We were made to run around the school playground in the blazing heat if we came late, until some of us fainted. I’d not let my daughter go to a school that did that. It’s true, we’re going the American school way and our kids are weaklings compared to the kids who go to my brother’s and my old schools.

But we’re not the norm. We’re the new age ‘cool’ parents. We want to go easy on our kids and teach them to compete with themselves, not others – and a lot of other valid but rather pretentious-sounding stuff. Across this country, parents are sitting up late night making coffee for their kids right now – kids preparing for their board exams. In Calcutta there are mothers who drop their kids off at school, hire a room near the school and sit and play cards, chat or whatever and then walk in at lunch time to feed their kids well and then go back and wait in that hired room until it is time to take their kids home. The truth is, it takes a lot of effort  to be that obsessive parent. Most of us don’t have the commitment to do it. Admit it. Do you have it in you to DO that? Forget about wanting to do it – could you do it if it was demanded of you? Ferrying from class to class, sitting for hours and overseeing practice, staying up nights and making endless cups of hot milk?  I’m afraid, along with our kids, we’re weaklings too. A Chinese mother and that mother in a small B town in Bihar think that I’m a failure as a mother.

We’d rather go to work, or watch TV, or meet up with friends or get some ‘me time’ or whatever, instead of sitting there hawk-eyed, watching our kids carefully form alphabets. If I had a rupee for every parent who said, I need my job and my social life for my own sanity, I’d be a millionaire by now. And when things don’t work out, we take it up with the teacher instead of working harder with our kids. Yes, at some level it is wanting the child to grow into himself. At another, we’re just lazy. We’re complacent. It’s okay for our kids to turn into musicians and artists because we’re making enough money to leave them a house.

And before you all jump on me and eat me alive, let me say, I meant that in the nicest way possible. *koff koff* There is no glory in us ‘letting’ our kids choose their own path. It would be a big deal for the office peon to tell his son – ‘It’s okay if after this expensive education that I sold my soul for, you pick art and don’t make it big.’

Did you watch 3 idiots? There is this scene where Madhavan’s father calls Aamir in and shows him that there is only one AC in the house and its been put there for him to study for his engineering exams in comfort while the rest of the family sweats it out. And like it or not, that is what 80% of our country is about. When I hired a driver in Gurgaon and we were negotiating a salary, he said something that made me give in – “I’ve put my children in good schools and I need to pay the fees. I don’t want them to be like me – I want them to be a doctor-engineer like you.” I didn’t think it was right to disillusion and tell him that neither the OA nor I are doctors or engineers. I paid him what he asked for.

The driver slogs at work and his wife works hard at home. Their lives revolve around their children. For a lot of us, we’re in a position to have lives that don’t revolve around our children. So while they are in daycare or being raised by domestic help or minded by our extended family, we go to a job that we enjoy, we go to dinner at fancy restaurants, we go for wine tasting sessions and subtitled films. But that’s just us.

The average middle/lower middle class parent in this country doesn’t do that. I have family friends whose only outing was church for the entire year that their son was in Class 10 – they just stayed in and focussed on making him study, making him comfortable and ensuring that he wasn’t distracted. They’ve invested too much in him to let him be anything less than a success. And that is why anything less than a 90 will break them. Because they live in a small rented home in the suburbs and drive a second hand car bought from a family member and want him to live a better life than the one they’ve been able to give him.

My parents on the contrary,  kept calling me on the intercom while I was studying, saying, “Lets go for ice cream.” Some might say its because both my parents are successful businesspeople who knew that should all else fail, they’d be able to leave their children a business each. I’d say its because my parents had been in business and knew that should all else fail, we’d have the drive and the skills we needed to set up our own enterprises. My brother and I, both have at various times worked in our parents’ offices and like most business class kids knew what needed to be done. It’s a different matter that neither of us got into the family business. Anyhow, I digress.

Heck, most kids in our country do no household chores either because all the parents ask of them is to study, study, study. In the recent past parents have begun to realise that cricket and tennis might have a future so kids who are good at either, might get a shot at that. But God help any child who wants to swim or play hockey. There is no future they will be told, will firmly be guided away from it. And oh, what other way is there to excel at anything, be it sports or music, but practice, practice, practice? Did you read Outliers and the bit on the Beatles and practice in Hamburg? And how many kids do you know who will on their own put in the effort to take a God given talent and make something of it?

This is a country where 40% of the country is still below the poverty line. There is no government assistance, dole, social security, nothing. Those people at the bottom, have to fight to get somewhere. They have to be the best to be noticed. If my son is even vaguely good at music I have enough musician friends to notice and help him out. If the Bean can write well, I’ve been in  media long enough for her to get a lead into writing or theatre. Not because I will ask anyone, but because she will know how to go about it. The rest of the country depends on their wits and reality shows.

A country like America is in a different phase altogether. Even the housekeeper or gardener will earn more than the average school teacher in our country. There is no fight for limited resources and letting a child ‘be himself’ will have very different consequences. Some of us, have the good fortune of being in that place and it’s easy to turn up a nose at the ‘pushy’ parents while we put our feet up and relax over a cup of coffee. Let us not criticise, unthinkingly the system that brought us to the position where we can choose to do the things we like to do, and enjoy them.

While we’re on the topic, it’s easy to diss Indian mothers who pressure their kids to study and say the Americans have it right. But it is our Indian mothers who will leave their husbands and homes and visit us for 6-12 months after delivery and cook and feed us and our children. It is our Indian parents who will change their retirement plans and come live in the city of our choice so that we don’t worry about childcare while we pursue our careers. So it cuts both ways.  I don’t know if American mothers would give up their lives for their children and then go on giving it up for their grandchildren after that. You may not appreciate the way the East does things, but it works for them and it works brilliantly. When they parent – they parent in a way that encompasses every aspect and they take their last breath, still doing something for their precious children.

None of this is in any way to diss the American schooling system or the so-called alternative schools we hunted for, for our kids. Yes, these do nurture creativity and they do give the children a lot of freedom to learn, think, and create. But shift me back twenty years and move me 2 notches down on the socio-economic scale and I’d be that mother whacking my kid at midnight for falling asleep at his desk. I’d be scared shitless that he’d never get anywhere in life and would be hungry and homeless after I passed on. Just because we no longer have those fears doesn’t mean we don’t understand those who still have to function by those standards and on those compulsions. Why do we cease to understand that perspective? Can we assure those kids a livelihood and a job? All of them? And a roof over their heads, a car in the garage and a foreign holiday? No. In that case, we have to trust their parents to do what they think will be best for their kids in their particular situation.  This is their only path to it.

Two years ago my cook and driver in Delhi spent an hour fighting with me for not throwing the Brat’s birthday party at our local rather Tony club, with tattoo artists and magicians and the usual Delhi birthday party tamasha. I told them that I’d rather have a simple party at home. They looked disgusted at what they thought was my stinginess and said that they were earning precisely so that their kids could have those very things. How do you argue that?

I read Amy Chua’s piece and I believe that while every child needs to encouraged and pushed to achieve their best  – you need to do what is suitable in your environment. The OA and I, and before us our parents, worked hard to bring us up to a certain standard. Up here it’s a gentler world, a rarified atmosphere. And we can afford to look down and go all snooty on those struggling to get their kids up here and using any method that is handy and works.

I have often said I’d be happy if my son is happy, even if he is not successful. But for the driver who works for me, his child would need to earn atleast a bare minimum and have the basics in life to be happy and for that he’ d have to be successful.


Next up is the bit on self-esteem. I am a bit on the fence on this one myself. I see fat kids around me and no one is willing to tell them that they need to lose weight. If you’re fat, you’re fat and it’s better that we face facts and do something about it rather than you turning 16 and anorexic or bulimic. If I as a parent don’t tell you the facts straight, I don’t know who will. No, I needn’t insult you – but hell, if being told that you’re fat sounds like an insult, then maybe its time you did something about it. It also seems like I’m turning away from my responsibilities by not helping you do something about it.

I see badly behaved children and I see parents afraid to discipline them. Discipline has become a bad word. I am not really the ‘Drop down and give me 20’ kind of mother, but I really can’t sit by and watch my kids misbehave. They might have an off day when they won’t say more than a shy hello, but they know I’d skin them alive if they dared to act rude or kick or not share toys.

I see kids around us all the time, pushing the boundaries and going into areas that I find more than grey. Being rude to guests, refusing to share their toys with kids who have come to play, and more. And all the parents do is say, “No beta, you must share… ” and then they trail off and shrug apologetically and say “He’s a little posessive.” Yes, I see that – but what are you doing about it?  They can’t figure out how to make their child share his toys, his food, his playroom, and as a result my kids, the visitors, end up sitting glumly and quietly. Why should I take them over to play with kids who won’t let them play, in that case?

And how often did our parents let us get away with such behaviour? Aren’t we raising monsters with a strong sense of entitlement – with no manners and no sense of responsibility to the world around them? Shrugging it all off as modern parenting and new methods. What is this new method? Being lazy and indulgent while your child runs wild? Undoing all the work that the rest of us are putting in to trying to raise decent human beings? Because it is hard for me to explain to my child that he must share toys in our house where he is the host, and yet have every toy snatched away when he goes to another house to play and is the guest. Add to this our desi system of house help and having no household chores to do and my God, we’re heading for disaster.

I don’t care if you believe in raising your hand or just your voice. Choose your method and make sure it is effective. Don’t tell me “We don’t scold our kids in public… ” and then let your child behave absolutely badly. I have seen friends who with one gentle word can make their child behave.  I sometimes have to raise my voice but on the whole I can’t remember the last time I had to scold one of my kids into behaving in public. The OA and I rarely back away from a public dressing down and we’ve had to do it a mere once or twice for it to ensure that they’ve never again tried a public tantrum. Will they sulk quietly in a corner? Sure. Will they grab something away from another child and go kicking and screaming hysterically? Not if they want to be grounded until they’re 80.

I know a lot of parents disagree on public censure, but I believe kids get away with murder knowing that their parents won’t say anything till they get home, so why not make hay while the sun shines? My kids know that I’ll stop the car and take them off on the sidewalk if they misbehave and don’t apologise to the person concerned immediately.  When we were kids if a neighbour came home to complain about us, our parents took us to task before even hearing our side of the story. It made us pretty darn well behaved. Today, you go to complain to a parent about something their kid did and they’re likely to rip you a new one.

And I don’t mean we need to go Hitler on our kids, but I believe a lot of us need to be a lot firmer with our kids – if that means disciplning them only in private, sure – but lets see the results of that in their public behaviour. And no, I don’t believe in kids always needing to be reasoned with. There is a reason why they are the children and we’re the parents. If I say ‘Wear two sweaters because it’s cold’ and they disagree or the sweater is bulky, too bad. As long as I am stuck with the unenviable task of wiping your snotty nose, you will wear as many sweaters I tell you to and like it or lump it. I will tell them once, not to touch a plug point. I will tell them twice. And the third time they’ll get a sharp whack on the hand. Because I believe that sharp whack will hurt less than the electric shock that might near kill a two year old. And it will sting enough to ensure that they never again touch that plug point. There is a lot of reasoning you can do with your child and a lot you can’t explain – how do you explain the agony of a shock or a near death experience to a curious two year old? I can live with my 2 year old growing to be 6, associating a whack with that plug point. I don’t know anyone who went to college thinking that a plug point will slap you. There is time enough to learn physics later on. Lets keep you alive and me sane, until then.

I remember the 18 month old Brat kept trying to touch my mother’s hot cup of tea and she finally let him. A howl of pain later, he learnt his lesson and never even ventured near the gas stove or the kitchen for good measure. And it didn’t really leave him scarred for life because today at 5 and a  half he willingly helps me carry warm casseroles or a mug of hot chocolate.

There is a fine line between disciplining a child and allowing yourself to be manipulated – most often I see parents crossing that line. This is not to say my kids won’t misbehave or won’t spit at each other in a fight or poke someone in the eye. They will. But when they do, they will get it from me. And be it words or a smack on the butt, it will sting for a while and they’re unlikely to commit that particular crime again.

Some might say that I’m taking away from them the right to think things through and make their own decisions. Darling, I live on the 14th floor. If I let my son climb up there with his batman cape and jump off, he won’t live to make many more decisions. Which is why I’ll tell him once, not to go there. I’ll tell him twice, to stay away. Thereafter I will put a cactus plant near the railing and give him a tight smack on the bum. At least he’ll live to be old enough appreciate self esteem.

Disclaimer: My parents never whacked me. A glare worked. So if you say you never whack your kid or scold him  – you better have a glare that works!

254 thoughts on “On Chinese mothers and sparing the rod

  1. I’ve been having this discussion with my friends who have little kids and your point of view is interesting as always.
    As someone with no kids, in this instance my opinion doesn’t count for much but I do think that kids need to be taught, by example as much as with discipline (not that I condone extremes like the caning we got in school).

    • What nonsense. Of course your opinion counts. You were a child, you have parents and you are part of the society that these children inhabit. As much as I believe that everyone must make it easier for old people and children, I believe these children need to make it easier for everyone around them.

      • 🙂 thanks MM. My parents were not strict, we were never hit or even spanked but we knew that if we ever crossed the boundaries or threw a tantrum in public we’d get a dressing down. One angry glare is all it took to behave.
        I see that kids these days are smarter and more “aware” of themselves and their surrounding than I ever was. Most of them are also well behaved and so easy to converse and reason with… the few that are not, sadly, have poor parenting to blame (IMHO).

        • So you didn’t behave badly, right? how your parents managed you, was their problem. But the kids I see today, have become everybody else’s problem. No wonder there is such public outrage against badly behaved kids.

          • I believe every kid is different and hence, what steps you need to discipline one kid might be different from another.

            Just a stern look was enough to discipline my niece, but my friend’s daughter wont listen to shouting, yelling or reasoning. And once you have exhausted all options, you need to spank the kid at times.

  2. I have been following this article and all the responses that have been pouring it ever since the piece was first published in WSJ on Jan 8. The majority consensus is that while it is correct to not coddle your kids at every little things and you should encourgage them to be better/best at the same time it should not be done the way Amy Chua does it. Almost everyone is saying that there has to be a middle ground where the best of East and West parenting styles meet. Infact almost all responses from China tell tales of how such “tiger parents” have scarred them (their kids) for life. The Asians kids in the 14-24 age group have the highest suicide rate in US — and this pressure to be no. 1 is the biggest reson behind it.

    It is ridiculous to compare Ms. Chua’s case to someone who is from twenty years ago and “2 notches down on the socio-economic scale”. Both Amy and her husband have degrees from Ivy leagues and are professores at Yale law School. Amy’s father is a professor at UC Berkeley and is considered father of the father of nonlinear circuit theory and cellular neural networks. By all accounts Ms. Chua has is very well to do and no where near the lower notches of teh socio economic scale.

    I dont see how you can defend anyone who calls her kid “garbage” or refuses b’day cards made by her kids in grounds of not being good enough. Or, for that matter, who did not allow her daughter water or bathroom breaks until she matered her lessons — that, by the way, qualifies as child abuse atleast in the US.

    Also, things dont come that easy in America anymore. Education in USA costs almost a lifetime of earingsper child and getting through good schools is really, really tough now. So dont try to justify “tiger parents” by saying that life in the East is not easy. My husband and I were born, brought up and educated in India and came to the US for masters and Ph.D. and now we are setteled here with a kid so I know first hand how things are in both countries.

    Also, i find it funny you would say such a thing as “Even the housekeeper or gardener will earn more than the average school teacher in our country” How does that even make sense when the cost of living so so much more in the US? FYI – a teacher in US earns just about the same a teacher earns in India if you adjust the cost of living in these two countries.

    • Actually I didn’t defend anything Amy does in the US. Find me a line in my post where I say I think hers is the way to emulate? I even made a point that I do it differently. I really think you should read the post for what I wrote, and not read between the lines whatever it is that you THINK I am saying. I am merely talking about how this is the norm in Asian cultures where life is harsher and competition is strict. This is in no way a defence of her because I am sure she doesnt need my defence or care for her detractors. We all raise our kids the way we want and nobody else’s opinion matters.

      I have no idea and hence will not comment on the way Asians kids live or commit suicide in the US. I will stick to talking about India since I live here and know what the problems are. Its a little ridiculous for us to gasp in horror, fully aware that this is the only way half the country can get into a decent college in a country where its impossible to get a job or an education for the lower middle class. With half our population below the poverty line, and high rates of unemployment, you think parents have the luxury that parents in the West have of letting their kids fool around after school? Do I condone it? NO. Do I understand their compulsions and fears? Yes, I’m human enough to understand. And perhaps its time one developed a sensitivity towards those who live in developing countries and fight for every scrap they can get. Its very easy to ship out and then look down on those who are left scrambing for scraps.

      I did not say one should call their child garbage (really, did you even read my post?!!) – but I did say that a fat child who is too sensitive to be called fat, has TWO problems on his hands. Are you going to help the child lose weight or pussyfoot around the issue and leave him to handle his health problems and blood pressure and cholesterol by himself. He’s only a child who needs his parents to do more than give subtle hints. His self esteem won’t be any higher when he can’t run around the playground and collapses in a heap and other children call him fatty

      You went to the US and have settled there, right? Why? Clearly because life was better. So while it might be fair to say that a schooling isnt easy there, you have no idea about the long queues that most of us have stood in all night, just to collect a school form. And that is before the admission process even starts. You might be following this debate – but are you following admissions and schooling in India as closely as we are forced to? At the moment, I really do have a better handle on what is happening in our country today just as you have the dirt on Asian suicide cases in the US.

      And finally – the cost of living is higher (err.. clearly!), but a housekeeper in the US can afford a car – my cook can’t even afford a bike. Do you see my point? Over there a kid can be a gardener and make a living, here, gardeners fall mostly below or very close to the poverty line. There you have a choice of career – here those very same choices can ensure that you dont get three square meals and live in a patched up chawl. Still find my point very funny?

      Don’t take this the wrong way, but just as you find my post ridiculous, I love the self-righteous arguments that some (only a few!) of you NRI types put up!! How easily you forget the true picture of the country you keep reminding us you grew up in.

      • Actually, it depends on what context you called the child “garbage”. Its almost like calling a child “gandha”(dirty) and I am sure all parents call their kids gandha at some point of the time or other.

      • MM, I have been a lurker here for a long time. Posting for the first time 🙂

        I COMPLETELY agree with you.

        I am the NRI you talk about. Grew up in Delhi and moved to US in 2000 after marriage to join my husband.

        This is specifically in response to the last line of youe last comment : “How easily you forget the true picture of the country you keep reminding us you grew up in.
        Woman, do I agree with you!! Sure, I have lived in the US for 10 years. But for the life of me I cannot understand how NRIs settled here utter words like “Oh my, we could never go back and settle in India. Who wants to live in the dirt and grime and the traffic. We could never adjust there!”. Umm, really? So all those years you spent there since childhood you lived in an American style home? You had a sanitised home where there wsan’t a speck of dirt? You never had to slog it out for exams? You were NEVER stuck in traffic? You never went bathroom in public? REALLY?

        Suddenly the education system of the country that made it possible for all these people to be is US is so sub standard for their own kids.

        Not saying that all Indians settled in US are like this. But majority I have come across berate India like crazy. I don’t hate US. In fact, I like the country a lot. But I don’t have to hate India to like USA!! You can like two places at the same time for the unique life that each one has to offer.

        Btw, love your blog 😀 And just so you know….I went the college that is the sworn enemy of St. Stephens. Any guesses ? 😉

        • 🙂 Hindu college? then you’re around my time or a little senior. I graduated in 1999.
          Thanks for seeing my point for what it is. I am not dissing NRIs either. But I cant believe that they forget everything and suddenly get so uppity. Once some NRI-type left a comment saying something like – Are you saying maids aren’t dressed as well as the middle class?

          I laughed so much. Whats with the sudden pretense and political correctness? Have they never seen househelp? do they live on a parallel universe? like it or not, househelp are poor women and even at their neatest will not be dressed the way you are.

          • Spot on about the college 🙂 I graduated from Hindu in 1997.

            And I did read that piece about the housemaids and remember that comment. Seriously, whats up with this selective amnesia that people have? They spend 20-25 years in India and they arrive in USA and start behaving like they were born and brought in a royal family in India! With no knowledge of how India functions.

            I don’t understand why its so hard to acknowledge that what works for the West might not be a good choice for the East. Just for the simple reason that East has more population, lesser resources and has been around for many more centuries than the West. Whats there in the East is very difficult to change because of the set ways. Accept it and move on people! Badmouthing India will not change it.

            India does not need NRIs. Its thriving without them. We NRIs need India. For some of us its still the “mayka”. For others, they need India so they can criticize and feel superior about their choices. 😀

            • Ok…I am an NRI. And I don’t hate India. But I am fully aware of India’s shortcomings, just as I am aware of US’s shortcomings. Here is the thing, if I ever mention that yes traffic situation in Bangalore is simply terrible (which is the truth) and that yes infrastructure where I stay is definitely better, I become evil NRI. Am I lying? No. And usually I am not the one complaining either. It is when people ask me and I tell them and suddenly they are all offended.

            • Hey Clueless, the comments won’t nest further so this will come towards the end. I think people don’t like to hear the place they live in, being criticised. Never mind if they ask. Its like a wife asking a husband – does my ass look fat. the answer is always no. It’s his wife so he should be able to be honest, but its her ass so she has a right to be offended. Not the best example and I’m really trying hard to keep this humourous – humour me. Similarly, India might be the country of your birth, but once you move, the ones who live here, feel that you no longer have the very same rights that they do. You can choose to agree or not, don’t lynch me – I am only telling you what I think is the case. So all they want from the NRIs is to say, No, no, its lovely coming home and having chaat and idlis. No one wants to hear, yes darling, your waist is lovely but your arse is getting bigger everyday.

            • In my few years of living in US.. I have come across desis who just moved here and keep comparing everything back to India and say how better things are here.. and how they could survive in the dirt again.. MY US person at my work place asked another NRI if she preferred US or India and she said that India is too crowded and dirty to live.. You should have seen smoke coming out of my ears.. I kind of wondered if she was not happy abt where she is from and her background and begrade it to show it to the outsider that though am from there I am a totally different model.. not the one that comes in slumdog..

  3. *clap clap clap*

    You manage to put into words all these underlying vague feelings of mine that I can’t seem to find words for! 🙂

    When I read Amy Chua’s article first, I understood where’s she’s coming from. I got what she was talking about and though I wouldn’t go as far as she does, I think that I would definitely not have a problem with disciplining my kid! But as far as career is concerned, I’d leave it to them (if they know what they want to do).

    I don’t have a kid of course, but I have a sister, who was pushed by my mum to take up Science when she clearly had no talent or interest in the subject. she flunked.
    I *forced* her to go back to school (my mum wanted to put her in some other school and continue with science and push her even further) and take up a different stream.
    She was always interested in drawing and was very good at it. She always tells me about how happy her last two years of school were even though she’d flunked the first time round.

    So basically, it depends. You need to know where to draw a line. But I get Amy Chua.

    • Sure – Anyone who reads my blog can see I am not the Amy Chua kind of parent. But I cant get over the theatrical gasps of horror. Who are we kidding? Have we never seen such parenting before? What nonsense!

      • I don’t know… i still see it happening around me, so I’m pretty whatever about it.

        I remember my aunt (who’s a widow) asking me what stream I think her daughter should take and when I said ” what she is interested in” my mom got pissed off with me.

        So yeah.. it looks like these people live in a American school system only parallel universe!

  4. I completely agree. I tell myself I’ll be easier on my kids and ensure they learn how to enjoy/live a little everyday as opposed to always – constantly – working towards a goal. But I also remember my father’s words, “Mere jaisa aadmi apni saari zindagi laga ke ek ghar banaa pataa hai….maine ghar nahin banaya, bachche padhaa liye.”
    It’s because of everything that he and my mom did that I’m in a position now to say I’ll raise my kids in a way that’s (only slightly) different.

    My parents became first time homeowners about a year before I got married. My mom bought herself ONE saree in the twenty years that they were responsible for me. I’ve got no kids yet, but like you said, I’m not sure I could take a 20 year break from shopping. I don’t know anyone who could. I know it won’t make a difference towards my kid’s lifestyle as an adult in the end, but even it did, it would be presumptuous of me to say I could live that life every day for most of my adult life to ensure my kids have a happier future. The only people who can say it are the ones who HAVE done it, and I can’t believe there are Indian people gasping in horror all over the place, pretending they don’t know such a parent.

    • thank you. that is all i wanted to say. that we Indian parents gasping in horror – pretending we’re above it all. Well – half of us grew up that way, so lets put the pretense aside for a while and accept that there are reasons for it and if at all, lets do something to better the situation.

      • MM,
        There is something I’d love to know your take on….fodder for another blog post maybe? (I just REALLY respect your POV and can’t think of anyone else better equipped to answer.)

        This whole sacrificing-all-pleasures-for-your-child’s-education has produced children who don’t need to sacrifice for their kids, but it has also produced lots of parents who have no life or identity other than being their kid’s parents. What are these people supposed to do when their kid grows up into an adult and has a life of his/her own? They don’t know how to stop doing what they’ve been doing for most of their adult life. And they view their kid as their only/biggest accomplishment (rightly so) and probably also the source of all joy into their lives (codependent and unhealthy).

        Now because of all the social conditioning and the paraya dhan concept in India, parents of girls know they HAVE TO stop when she gets married. She’s no longer “theirs” and they don’t want to “interfere” in her life and create problems for her. Parents of boys feel they’re entitled to rule their son’s marriage. They’re doing their DILs a big favor by SHARING their sons with them. I have (male) friends who justify their parents’ (bad) behavior towards their spouses saying “but they’ve invested so much in their kids, they don’t know what else to do.” My husband too says that a lot of times.

        These friends are IIT/IIM grads and I understand they wouldn’t have made it there if it hadn’t been for their parents, but I know their spouses would have had it easier if their parents could just live their own lives now. I know I can barely stand the sense of entitlement my own IL’s have. I can only bite my tongue to keep myself from telling them that it’s not like I was given away in child marriage. If they hadn’t raised their son to be the person he is, it’s not like I’d have still married him. (So don’t expect me to be grateful that he’s an engineer and not a shopkeeper.)

        So – FINALLY – would it be better for society in general if people DIDN’T sell their souls for their kids? If they only did whatever they could classify as LOVE (which doesn’t preclude you from ensuring your own happiness) and not SACRIFICE? If their kids are their only source of happiness, they’d WANT their kid’s marriage to go a certain way or they’d be unhappy. And that’s a lot to deal with.

          very interesting. Its common knowledge that the OA and I were married against his parents’ wishes. So I get that attitude a lot. We’ll take that up some other time. I think the reason people invested so much in their children, at the time they did, was partly of course tradition. Scriptures in India teach you about the first 25 years being devoted to brahmacharya and then the next to grihasti or family and so on.

          Its part of our tradition in India – and despite being Christian, its part of my ethnic background and DNA I suppose, because I subscribe to it too. If you give birth to children, you give them the best of you. If that means sacrifice, so be it. But it doesnt have to be. To me, chopping a chunk off my career doesnt seem like a sacrifice, because worshiping my career contradicts my other strong belief, which is that I must give my kids my best. Both are my own beliefs, I weigh them against each other and I pick the one that matters more. No sacrifice here. Its like choosing between chocolate and icecream. I like both, but chocolate wins.

          Its also a question of the timing. Our parents and theirs before them, were raising children in a young India. A country that had so many problems and was just coming into itself. Job opportunities were few. They had to struggle and they taught their kids to struggle. (PS: we also come from a culture of rote learning – that is how the scriptures were passed down, by word of mouth for a long time.) Finally, 30 years ago, the West had clubs and TV. We didn’t. These parents werent really sacrificing anything by spending time on their kids. Office closed at 6 pm. I want to know what they’d have done with their time if not gone home to their kids!! I think this is less to do with how much parents do for their kids and more to do with patriarchy. They just like to feel that their sons owe them and their DILs should feel beholden to them.
          I also believe it is a certain personality type of people who feel that their kids are beholden to them and they brainwashed their kids into thinking so. Can’t blame the idiot sons for what they’ve been drilled about for years. I know plenty of SAHMs from the older generation who read, listened to music, developed strong friendships, ran their homes, raised their children, supported their husbands careers and are still not cranky old dependent women who believe that their children own them.

          For us today it becomes a ‘sacrifice’ perhaps because we have options and hence are forced to choose. You’re what – 28, I think? And are eventually planning kids, right? If I remember kids? Well today you have a choice and birth control. Our parents had no birth control and no TV – they had kids early. A lot of us had working mothers but I want to know what % that was and how many of them had a serious career as opposed to a job that gave the second income.

          I don’t know why one should imagine that love for your kid can only mean sacrifice. I do a lot for them and I do it because I want the best for them and I don’t feel a moment of guilt or sacrifice.

            • Oh I could take that class then.
              1. Draw a line where you think you should.
              2. On this side of the line, everything goes but on the other side – don’t give anything up.
              3. Make sure everyone knows where the line is.

              Works well.

              Okay have taken this to a tangent, but essentially boils down to sense of self-esteem etc that can unfortunately or fortunately only come when you work hard and prove to yourself that you are good enough to not give a damn to anyone else. Also, this is why I can’t get why folks diss hard work!

          • That was sort of my point. The girl’s parents have been conditioned enough to stay humble for the length of their daughter’s marriage. For a long time I was opposed to the idea of marriage and my folks were always acting like I owed it to them to live my life the way they wanted me to live it. My mom once wanted me to talk to this guy, I explained to her why I thought we were incompatible, and she still insisted, “Baat to kar le…” to which I said why, when it’s not going to go any further from there. And her answer was – because I’m asking you to, because I’ve given birth to you. I don’t get it, WHAT exactly do children owe their parents? Which is why I earlier said let’s just do whatever we can out of love and forget about sacrifice.

            My husband and I have the EXACT SAME educational qualifications from the SAME damn institutes, which have WAY more men than women. And YET I’m told by his parents that guys so hard-working and well educated are hard to find and I should thank my stars. Umm…I’ve been there, and I know women there were MUCH harder to find!

            My parents would never say such a thing to my husband not because they think any less of me but because they think telling him his wife is too good for him would be bad behavior on their part.

            It would be, yes, but to them the rationale is different. To them that’s only one of the million things that would count as bad behavior on part of the ladkiwallas.

  5. You couldnt have written this post at a better time. Friday I had my friend’s daughter stay over at our place. She is very much like our own daughter. I have only so far shouted at her or explained things to her, when she did something wrong.

    But on friday, she went and fiddled with the gas knob. I know my friend has tried explaining this to her many times, so when I saw her repeat it, i smacked her on her hand. She did not cry and that made me feel even more guilty. I wanted to hug her for the sadness in her eyes (she was more sad coz I had hit her). But, I did not, as I knew that would spoil the whole effect of the smack.
    I messaged my friend and she asked me to shut up. Still, I was feeling guilty about hitting that 2 year old.
    Somehow reading your post and after hearing all that my friend said, I feel a bit ok.

    But its very very difficult to hit a kid. You feel so damn guilty about it. I dont know how I am going to discipline my son. May be I will be on a continuous guilt trip 😦 or get used to it after sometime 😉

      • I think I have already picked and demonstrated it.

        But kids these days know how to put you on a guilt trip! I wont every forget the look she gave me. Man! Her mom says the kiddo knows the effect of that look. And she knew she had done wrong and that was the reason she did not cry though it hurt her. Kids are really smart these days.

  6. Sorry, my kid has received some pretty well deserved whacks from me and at age six now the glare finally works! Hallelujah for parents like you and me:-)

    • ha ha! so my brother tells me about this time he and a bunch of male friends were home with all their kids while the wives were out partying. one kid kept troubling and the father kept gently correcting him. finally he looks around and says – yahan sab desi hai na? (There are only Indians here, right?) – and then turns around and gives his kid one whack. The rest of the evening was spent in relative peace. I laughed so much when I heard that story.

      And yes – I rarely need to whack now – a glare works wonders. And if there are parents out there who can control their kids without a whack and who have well behaved kids – well, respect to them, man!

  7. Oh MM, I love this post!! All these things are what I think about very very often.. no, I’m not a parent but like you told H above that non-parents’ opinions also DO count – after all, they are the ones making faces when your child bawls through a flight 😀

    First up, I completely agree with the fact that not everyone has a cushy job and a big house and can afford to go all soft on kids. Personally, my other issue is also with not letting your kids explore their potential. Some kids are good at certain things/ talent, and that little extra (doesn’t need to be caning!) can help them see it too! And some kids are really bad at stuff like sports or music, but just a nudge can make them do better and feel confident about themselves. Instead, parents these days are happy with letting them be just as good or as bad as they are! I know there’s a world of people out there who will find your post and my comment horrific, but dudes, your kids won’t thank you for letting them believe they suck at sports when they are 20 and obese.

    Secondly, about the self-esteem thing, a very close relative of mine is very quick to give us shyte about how her rather ill-behaved daughter is “also an individual” and so “cannot be insulted in public” while the child runs amok every single time. This same parent, however, has this extreme obsession that her kid will get fat and flatly refuses certain foods emphasising to the child that she “better not eat xyz, if she doesn’t want to end up like her fat mama”. It’s never “play sports and get active”, and the child is not into any sort of outdoors. May I also say that the child has started a collectors’ series of sorts of Barbie dolls! Self-esteem or individuality, of course, takes a hike at this time.

    This is what I consider not new-age but lazy parenting. You do as you please in each situation, and tie it to the child’s self-esteem again at your convenience. Other times, you’re just as dominating as the ones you consider old-school.

    And yes, disciplining is the new four-letter word. Apparently, individuality shines through only when a child is rude and misbehaving. Good thing we were not raised as “individuals” and whacked good and proper, or we’ll all also be misbehaved and bitch-slapping these annoying kids and their mothers.

    While I’m here inviting trolls, let me also say that while you think your kid sounds smart, weird stuff like Sheila ki Jawani or Superhero parlance or gender stereotypical stuff like what girls can or cannot do or religious stuff (a child told me how Hindus don’t go to the church!) coming out of your child’s mouth makes you an idiot!

  8. I did not get a chance to read Amy’s article..however i agree with a lot of things you have written here. Yes, i can put my feet up and let my son choose a field of his liking but 20 years ago the pressure and the conditioning on me is what has put me in a place today to be gentle with my kids.

    Also, kids need to reprimanded then and there. I don’t believe in coming back home and giving them a smack. The moment is gone and they don’t realize what they are being punished for. Strike the iron while it is still hot..even if it’s in public 🙂 A wack, glare whatever works..

      • btw… this can’t be done in the u.s without having someone call up child support and take the kid away from you for being an abusive parent.

        kids are taught at school that if they are abused, they have the right to call for help.

        In one case, this kid I know of was reprimanded by the mother. and the kid wonders out loud (genuinely with no sarcasm or threat) as to whether that amounts to abuse and if he should call the helpline!

  9. RE: “But it is our Indian mothers who will leave their husbands and homes in India and come to us for 6-12 months after delivery and cook and feed us and our children.”

    Pliss to send Kiron Kher to my house.

    I am also going to learn how to embroider again. Just so I can make a sampler with this written on it.
    “Lets keep you alive and me sane, until then”

    • arre, no jokes. only our mothers didnt show up and stay for a year post delivery. do a poll on the blogosphere and see how many other girls had their mothers come and stay. go on.

      • Our mothers are bad. this is what happens when you allow American channels on TV. Doordarshan/PTV dekhti tau they would be over tiffin carrier in hand 😦

          • for someone who is moving across the road to a flat that is NEXT DOOR to his playschool (I promise it wasnt planned…consider it serendipity!) guilty as charged!!!

          • Was reminded of this article I read some weeks ago:

            And also this:

            In there, they say about how Indian women move to their mother’s place,have relatively stress free post partum.

            The West does see the goodness of the east.
            But I guess they went into the defensive, when Chua accused them,(may be her language or whatever) which I think is normal and understandable to an extent, but what is unphathomable like you said is the way Indian or eastern parents express shock or disbelief.

            And to Divya, who said Cost Of Living is high in the US, come on, you surely do not know of the inflation and the cost of living in India. I am appalled at how my own retired parents with a fairly decent pension are able to survive with prices of everything sky rocketing. And I always think how people down the social ladder like the maid and other people put together 3 meals a day. The west doesnt see as much inflation, my dear.

  10. I’m not a father, not even married, so I dunno how valid my opinions on this stuff will be, but here goes. I get really irritated with articles about how someone’s way of doing something as complicated as parenting is “best”. I read both the articles, and to me, they sounded kinda childish and boastful. I really don’t think there can be any universal way of doing something like this. Each child is unique, and each is born into a unique set of circumstances, and the parenting style is adapted to that child and those circumstances.

    But there’s a small observation I’d like to add. When I was a kid, and my parents started taking me with them to restaurants, I was told very clearly, that you don’t raise your voice, create a scene, lick your fingers etc etc in a restaurant, and I followed those rules. I go to restaurants today, and kids are almost as a rule, badly behaved. They run riot all over the place, scream and shout, throw things, and their parents do nothing. Has it become tougher to control kids? Or have parents just become lazy? Or is it some new age thing?

    • Well if my parents are to be believed, we were an easier generation. It gets harder as the outside influence increases. Think about it – how many hours did your mother spend with you and how many hours do we spend with our kids. Its not just about quality time. Its also the whole thing about influence. When you see your parents go about their business through a day, you learn to behave from them. if you barely see them and only see other junglee kids and TV, what else will you learn? Who will teach you better?

      That said, I am convinced we lazy parents dont want the mirror turned on us. Amy’s article is not hard hitting because she doesnt let her daughter take a toilet break. Its hard hitting because it reminds us that there is so much more we can do for our kids that we dont. We dont like to be told that.

  11. MM,

    ‘I don’t know if American mothers would give up their lives for their children and then go on giving it up for their grandchildren after that.”

    Exactly – you don’t know, therefore, don’t judge.


    • Likewise Broom – Western mothers don’t know the conditions that Asian parents bring up their children in and the challenges they are preparing them for, therefore they shouldn’t judge either. I don’t know where you read the judgment, but I am used to your kneejerk reactions to any post that carries the word American.
      I wasn’t aware of anything I’ve written that is so terrible, or a single comment that is condemning. the funniest part is that this post was aimed more at Indians who keep gasping at the Chinese mother, when things are not so different here. One hopes that social media will spread awareness and understanding so that the West stops judging the rest of the world for doing things differently. Right from “smelly ‘curry”‘ to disciplining their children. Is it American tradition to go to your parents’ house to deliver and have them take care of you and the infant? Or to have your parents leave their city and state or country to go take care of your grandchildren? Or would you know a large percentage of parents paying for their children’s college education and then their marriages? Providing dowries? People across the world handle things differently. not everything needs to be judged so harshly.

      don’t judge if you don’t want to be judged. In every case that you’ve objected to a post, I’ve merely pointed out this side of the coin. So dont call these parents cruel or heartless for making their kids practice for two hours instead of one. Some people would call it heartless and irresponsible to leave your kids to pay for their own education or put your parents in an old age home.

      This post is not judgment – its a statement of fact. They’re different cultures. Everyone needs to grow up and deal with it.

      • Hi MM,

        Never commented before on your blog – but Ive been reading it forever! I had a few comments… as an East African (of Indian origin) raised in Canada I am not qualified in the least to talk about the “Indian” way of parenting or any of the associated issues. However- I do think that your stereotype/viewpoint of the “western” culture is flawed to some extent.
        I think people in the West definitely make sacrifices and work hard for their children. Some do sacrifice so their children get tuition paid for, some do save and throw their daughters the weddings of their dreams, and MANY move to be close to grandchildren, pick up and drop them off at school, activities, pay for tuition, babysit, move in when illness or weakness strikes, support financially in rough times, etc. Its the same choices that people in the East make for their children.
        At the same time I know plenty of Indian (not sure if they are from India) grandparents who move in with their children, expect them to work, cook, clean, and wait on them hand and foot without pitching in at all. Some have the opposite experience of living and being dependent on their children who give them a room in the hse and not even a minute to see how their day was, make them feel loved, etc.

        That is to say that there is bad and good on both sides. Children who put their parents in homes and visit for 4 to 6 hrs a week to spend time with their parents and others who never go back and visit even once. Children who have their parents with them and should get outside help for their parents but instead hole them up in their homes where they are lonely, depressed, and expected to look after grandchildren who give them little else in return.

        I agree there should be no judgement on both sides… and that both have positive and negative aspects. Finding the perfect mix is the key!

        • Hi Sakina
          I dont mean to stereotype the West at all. I am the first to admit that I have only visited and watched TV, never lived there. But I am in a position to talk about life in India, more so than anyone who moved out ten or twenty or even five years ago. I am a journalist – that adds to the sort of view I have. I am sure people in the West make sacrifices etc. That was never the argument. In the West you might choose to get your kids married – in India it is your duty. There is a huge difference. Here there is no concept of a kid paying for their graduation.

          Its easy to find a lot of similarities, but if you talk of the basic difference in culture, it is vast. So for anyone who doesnt belong to an Asian culture to be aghast at the parenting, is just as silly as someone from here being horrified at the West for what they think of as neglectful parenting – be it a child sleeping in a different room or a dozen other things.

      • I had an interesting conversation with an American ex-colleague over the weekend. His parents live in a hotel in Hong Kong every time they visit…that is how they like it. I was mildly suprised because I was in his house during this conversation and it was a well-appointed two bedroom apartment where he lives by himself. I told him my parents sleep on the pull out for as long as two weeks when they visit. He was surprised my parent visit me for two weeks. I casually mentioned my mother might move in for between 6 months to eternity when I have a baby. He shuddered…we both laughed and then he said “I suppose I can see some merit in that”. No judgements, just two very different people getting to know each other.
        About the Amy Chua article -I study in a classful of American/Canandian Chinese and I see in them the same kind of keen competitiveness I grew up around. So no suprises, no outrage. But I think the reason her anecdotal account has sparked such a reaction is because she is not your so-called typical Chinese mother. She is by all measures a privileged first generation American and hence the general feeling is that “she should know better”. I would like to discount the shock value of some of what she has written but the essence of it is very familiar. My husband summed it up neatly when he said “Its (the stuff in the article) a bit extreme but at the end of the day I know I’ll be more like a Chinese parent than the alternative.”

        • I understand, Intern. I am just surprised at her sparking outrage in India. No, I am not her. But yet, I am not surprised by her.

          And oh – my parents were visiting my uncle in the UK. And he mentioned it to a colleague who shrugged and said, All the best, poor guy. My uncle laughed it off and told my parents. Just an example of differing attitudes. Here, we look forward to people visiting. I am currently on FB begging a SIL who is coming from the US to give me her flight timing so that I can pick her up. She on the other hand, is an ABCD and is refusing to give me the flight details, saying she will take a cab and doesn’t want to inconvenience me. The way we think is so different.

          • Ha! This I want to hear more about. When she lands up in IGIA at 3:00AM,with three suitcases (and does she have kids?, doesn’t speak the language, and has to deal with a rascally cabdriver who looks like the first cousin of Changez Khan.

  12. This was absolutely spot on, Mad Momma. Very, very good piece.

    Yes, it’s the same with us, we can afford to tell Dhanno, don’t study so much, rest, it’s OK if you fail, because we are a safety net for her.

    And yes, we’ve often not pushed enough, because we didn’t want to make the effort ourselves.

    Children do need to be pushed, do need to be scolded, and all of that.

    Teja has often said when he’s had to yell at Dhanno, I don’t mind if she grows up thinking I am a villain, she’ll know soon enough it was for her good.

      • Banno and TMM,
        While it is our class that does have the luxury of saying, yes, take it easy – its the parents from our class that freely unleash the tiger.
        The half crazed mania about tutoring the child for the ‘right’ kind of school, the tuition classes because the child is not topping in class… it is such a cynical take on childhood and its possibilities.

        TMM, I agree with your cynicism about the furore this article has created- it made me laugh- both the article and the response.

        I see this book as no different from the feel good western parenting books. Both are ridiculously prescriptive! One, in a politically correct, pussy footing sort of a way, the other in an abrasive, black and white way. Neither could work for me.

        And one more thing you are spot on about, banno is super cool 🙂

  13. I didn’t reach the Amy thing, but just read your post. One of my friends from the US once told me that at one of their Universities( I dont remember which one), there is a plaque that says ‘I want to be a businessman, so that my children can be professionals, so that their children can be artists and musicians’ or some such..pretty much one of the things you are saying, right? I too like to say this to young people from a certain strats…that since roti, kapda aur makhaan is (need) not (be) a goal for them, they can spread their net differently..

  14. Now this is calling a spade a spade …. BTW I was the Mom who pushed the boys to go fight their own battles – because I wasnt at home to protect them. It worked. Sure they got bashed up too, but now they know that it is up to them to demand and get the respect they are entitled to. Academically I never pushed them – and I still feel guilty about it. May be if I had …..

  15. oh, another thought..it is really hard to draw the line between protecting and letting the children be independent…if we don’t give them enough opportunities to fight their own battles, they find it hard to do so as adults, I think…ofcourse, that brings up the question, do they really need to fight battles as adults? 🙂

  16. I don’t have kids yet but I would sure want to throw in my two paisa here.
    I read the article and was not shocked at what she wrote about her parenting style. We have seen umpteen friends getting treated the way Any’s daughters were treated, and still grow up to be decent adults. The debate here in the US is that kids who are brought up like that will have psychological issues as adults. I think things have been over sensitized in the US and so there is this gasp of horror at how Asians spank their children or treat them the way they do. Well, if Americans spanked their children every once in a while, there would probably be less pregnant teens and drug addicts!

    Also, this line “But it is our Indian mothers who will leave their husbands and homes and visit us for 6-12 months after delivery and cook and feed us and our children. ” is so true. While we beat our parents up over their parenting methods, we still want mommy to come flying around the world to take care of our baby!

  17. “Undoing all the work that the rest of us are putting in to trying to raise decent human beings?” Absolutely. Salutes to all you parents bringing up nice fellow-humans 🙂 :).

  18. I don’t know if it is new age parenting.we were below middle class. My father had a small job. Even in that situation my parents never pressurized me. They never asked me and my brother to study. In fact they cannot even teach us because my mom had only few years of schooling and my father was busy.I used to teach my brother. For many years we stayed in a house with only 2 rooms. I studied on my own. I did engineering out of my own interest and got a job. So i really can’t understand why do parents pressurize kids.

  19. If I were a man – I would’ve asked you to marry me and have kids..!!!!!!!!!! (never mind that you already are and have some adorable kids)

  20. Actually, MM, the Amy Chua parenting style is very much the style of a lot of Indian parents in the USA, according to my cousin in San Francisco. The kids’ grades are very good, and they pack in a lot of “achievements”. But both parents and children are turning out selfish, with a totally “me first” attitude and quite unbearable socially. Sad.

  21. This link is a bit related to your previous post, but I guess in some ways related to this one too. I have seen girls go through the princess phase here too, the difference is how and where the parents draw the line. Many of them barely have more than 2 rooms in the house, so when a girl demands princess sheets, and princess closets and princess curtains..well she can keep demanding. The point most seem to be missing is that the fear at the bottom of the stomach that without some education, a son or daughter might end up scraping the bottom of barrel is much more severe in Asia than in the US. Poverty levels are extremely high in the US too, but the difference is very few ppl fall through the cracks into oblivion, the state ensures that. That doesn’t mean kids don’t grow up to be addicts, prostitutes or criminals. The diffenrce there and here is ppl don’t blame the education system for not teaching, but the state for not ensuring that the kid stayed in school. We don’t do that in India. Private schools are the norm here and it is entirely upto the parents to make sure that kids stay in and get out in a way that can get them somewhere.

    Book Review – Cinderella Ate My Daughter – By Peggy Orenstein – NYTimes.com http://nyti.ms/ePYbVN

    • Exactly. What people don’t realise is that people who drive their kids are not driven by cruelty. They’re driven by fear that their child will fall through the cracks. You need to live here and see those people to understand it.

  22. I had a strong averse reaction to Amy’s article, just because it did seem like: “Drop and give me twenty” type of parenting.
    Pushing the kids and encouragement are the same thing. The tone and mannerisms in which it is done differenciates on from another.
    I live in America. I pursue my career, little V goes to school with countless other kids. I see the parents: Donig the following: Getting ready for morning, picking up kids in evening, coookind food, for the family, taking kids to the park, different classes, ensuring play dates, enrlling in different classed over weekend and then keeping the house and social life active- All by themselves. No house help, no chaufeeurs, no cooks, rarely some cleaners. By all in all, its them independtly handling the house, the kids, there social curricular and there carriers.
    Parents dont think twice before telling the boss- need to pick up kid for soccer practice. They might reduce hours knowing full well, the promotion is far away- they do it for kids.
    I think I should write a post “In defense of American parents” since somehow the misconceptions about the “western” way is very high!
    I agree with you on most fronts. We all turned out fine. And we are far ahead in our careers, education with the right leevl of encouragement from our parents!@


    • first off, I think any article, needs to be written in strong language if you want to make a point. I’d take anything Amy or even I have said, with a pinch of salt. If we wrote it any less strongly, we’d be poor writers. The point of writing is to evoke strong emotions, make you think and take sides. I am sure she is not half as much of a tigress as she comes across in writing. People who meet me are shocked to find that I’m vivacious but easy going and not half as strong willed as I come across on the blog.
      and LOL! you don’t need to defend the West. I think you missed the part where I said the education system and parenting is great – but its only great for where it is. In countries like China and India, where things are so different, its not easy.
      When you talk about househelp and chauffeurs you are talking about my socio-economic class. I am not the tiger mom. I’m pretty laidback about achievements. you’re making the wrong comparison. Most of the parents who do that are very middle class, have no chauffeurs or househelp and are doing everything anyone in the West is doing, on a lower income, poorer lifestyle, power cuts, having to get up at 4 am and fill water, bad traffic, corruption and bribery as part of their daily lifestyle, sitting four members of a family on a scooter and standing in endless queues just to get a school admission form. There is no comparing their life with anyone else’s.
      and oh – there is no question of telling your boss that you want to leave early for soccer practice – unless you want to lose your job. you might leave early if your child is hospitalised.

  23. Thanks for sahring your views MM. I quickly scanned thru your comments to find some NRI’s upset about stance. But I did not find you to have stance in particular and thought your reasoning was good. I am an “NRI” ready to raise my child here. I love the system. i love that public schools are free and I don’t have to pay my way for donations or heck even for text books or the school bus. I don’t like it that there is pressure on the kids to take up an art or a sport. I have no extra curricular activities (I am from that household where it was study, study and study) and am afraid if my child will be socially ostracized if he were to turn out like me. I worry about teen pregnancies (altho I have a son!) and drugs. I am not worried about under age drinking I am positive that my son is going to taste his first beer before 16. My goal is to make him use his brains to his maximum capacity, I am going to be strict with him but I am going to let him have his sleepovers. He need not get an A but he darn well put in the effort to get one. I see myself becoming confused with Indian and American cultures but I know that I am choosing the best of both to give to my son. Thanks for letting me ramble!

  24. Very much agree with the second part of the post. Once a Mom(Asian-Indian) of a not so well behaved 3 year child told me, “We don’t scold him much and pamper him because we get to spend very little time with him in a day”. Yes, right, great excuse.

    And about Chua, haven’t read her book but I am not sure how much of what she has written is tongue-in-cheek and real hard facts. Though I might disagree with some of her views I do applaud her for putting in the time which beats maths given that she is a law prof, an author etc. etc.

    Sometimes we, the parents of the new age are so busy doing hundred other things that it seems easier to give in and cater to bad behavior than be firm enough to guide the child. I myself have been guilty of that.

  25. MM

    Been a regular at this blog long enough to know that you are MORE than enough to defend your statements ….
    But I just HAD to say my 0.02$ 🙂

    So Here I go

    “Education in USA costs almost a lifetime of earingsper child and getting through good schools is really, really tough now. ”

    REALLY ??? I don’t think so …. In the US only the upper middle class parents CAN pay the college fees for their kids..
    I am yet to come across ( either at my work or my B-school or my husband’s engg grad school) an American who didn’t have to work through college ( mainly waiting tables ) or/and take student loans to get thru college. They say I was very lucky that my parents paid for my college.
    They are surprised that my FIRST ever job was at 21 after I got my engg degree.
    (Though I had always wanted to do odd jobs and earn some money from the time I can remember coz I am from a family similar to that of a commentor above who said her mom hadn’t shopped for 20 years..But I was in a small town and I didn’t get work and study oppurtunities or summer jobs unlike my frnds in cities like Mumbai or touristy places like Goa who it seems used to make money babysitting or doing such jobs)

    My qn is if you like the West so much why don’t you do everything like the westerners ?
    But NO – it is unthinkable for you that your kid has to wait tables to put him/herself thru college.
    You have to pay the kids college fee like ANY OTHER INDIAN PARENT ….

    Regarding comment from Broom
    I KNOW that (majority of ) american mom’s won’t give up their lives for kids or grandkids.
    When we generalise stuff it is based on majority
    There might be outliers like how MM’s mom & Aneelas’s moms are in the Indian context…

    Many of us in our generation didn’t have working moms – and if even they were working – thanks to our late marriages and later kids – moms r retired by the time we have kids and majority of them are more than happy to leave whatever they were doing to become full time grandparents …
    (unless of course they r running business like MM’s mom or I have a frnd whose mom runs a agency and can’t take a long term off to be with grandkids)

    American grandmom’s can’t or won’t leave everything for the grandkids because
    (i) If they are not very well off they still might be working and hence can’t afford to do so
    (ii) they have things planned post retirement like a Europe tour or Alaska cruise and don’t want to change the plans just coz there is grandkid in the picture.
    (iii) Most important – The grandparents have their space and they don’t like to forego that for a long time.

    I will end with some comments from my and my husbands coworkers when we had our respective parents visiting us for 3 months – before baby and after baby
    – oh r they staying in a hotel – NO ? why not? I mean it is not nice of them to stay with you and not give you your privacy
    ( I do like my privacy but once in a while I don’t mind to let it go in place of garam garam chai and pakodas waiting for me when i get back from work or the tender loving care or not coming to a empty house and someone to ask me how the day went like the good old days )
    – oh u have ur parents with u … already with the new baby things will be so hectic for you and now you have to arrange stuff for your parents( who want to be treated like guests) too .. how sad
    ( err.. no … our parents ARE NOT OUR GUESTS … they don’t want to be treated like one either..We don’t have to take care of their stuff ( for now) rather they are HELPING us with the baby)

    There are ofcourse exceptions ….My american frnd’s mom-in-law stayed with them for 2-3 months to take care of the newborn .. but then it was a BIG deal for them..
    he was asking his frnds help to come and cook for them so that his mom in law can rest …
    which was very sweet, I should say …

    Swati from Hindu college – I LOVED ur comment..

    MM – If I can even write 1/2 as good as you, I would have needed only 3-4 lines…
    But I am not you and hence the loooooooooooooong comment 🙂

    • Awww…thanks Anamika 🙂

      Normally people get all upset with me when I try to defend India. I get the usual…”Then why do you stay in US? If YOU love India so much, you should go back” from most people.

      No thank you 😀 I will stay right HERE , will continue to love USA for what IT is and will continue to love,support and defend India for what INDIA is.
      I have noticed people don’t talk to me about India anymore. Hmm. Wonder why that is 😉

    • Btw, I have 2 kids, 6 and 3. And my mom did not come and stay with me for more than 6 weeks 😦

      I am going to cry foul, I am asking her to come read the comments here. I feel soooo deprived.

    • I agree with Anamika. I am a student in the US and my Srilankan labmate had a baby and her mom had come down to help her for 6 months. Our lab was out for lunch and my American professor asked her how long her mom would be staying and she said 6 months. An American guy exclaimed : 6 MONTHS ?!!! and at the same time I said : Ohh, Just 6 months ?!!!??. And my professor told me: In America, having your Mother or your MIL stay for even a week is a Big deal. Neither the kids nor the parents want to do that.

      • See, yet you’re likely to have someone come here and say – How dare you stereotype and defame the West? Its not defamation, its a statement of fact. Just as its a statement of fact that your mother is still likely to be washing your bum or feeding you by hand till you are eight years old in India!

        • my darling, before you consider that ‘statement of fact’, also consider that she wrote that kids don’t want their parents staying over either.

          Having said that, what Prashanti mentioned is a statement of fact but what you wrote is not.

          With your statement, you insinuated that Western parents don’t invest equal amounts into their children as Indian parents do when you said:

          “While we’re on the topic, it’s easy to diss Indian mothers who pressure their kids to study and say the Americans have it right. But it is our Indian mothers who will leave their husbands and homes and visit us for 6-12 months after delivery and cook and feed us and our children. It is our Indian parents who will change their retirement plans and come live in the city of our choice so that we don’t worry about childcare while we pursue our careers. So it cuts both ways. I don’t know if American mothers would give up their lives for their children and then go on giving it up for their grandchildren after that.”

          Insinuation or the uninformed claim that you make here is that Mothers in India invest more in their children compared to mothers in West.

          It is that insinuation that these “NRIs” are questioning.

          Sure it is a different culture, and sure the parenting methods will be different too. I agree as much, but to blatantly say that Indian mothers do more is just wrong. There are no arguments there.

          “I don’t know if American mothers would give up their lives for their children and then go on giving it up for their grandchildren after that.”

          Yes, you don’t know.

          • Roop, we’ve been through this before and I don’t want to repeat myself hoarse. So yes, I don’t know – I didnt say they wont. Just as YOU don’t know why Indian parents put pressure. Over and out. I didn’t say they invest more – I said they invest differently. I can read a dozen ‘insinuations’ into every post you write or comment you type but i have neither the time, energy nor inclination. Lets not get into the ‘darling’ business – its ruder than the rest of your comments! And yes so kids not wanting and parents not wanting – is a different culture.

            Similarly, kids wanting and parents wanting to stay is a different culture. you are quick to find fault with a parent pushing their child to practice piano – why cant you accept that its a different culture and let it go?

            • and you are down to your tools of trade again. if all else fails, scream and fight. great.

              I find no fault with a parent pushing their child to practice piano. It’s their CHOICE! and none of my business.

              Either way, congratulations! enjoy your new addition to family.

            • hmm.. and you are down to yours – attack everyone who disagrees with you. I find it funny that you find fault with this aspect of parenting and yet could come up with an argument that said you dont judge poorer people who pick female foeticide. Wow…

            • oooh! dont say that word culture here,MM then people are bound to assume we are generalising things here 😉

              but honestly i think i was just assuming or dreaming stuff when the American wife of our friend bluntly said that she loved her husband’s mother came even without asking coz that is how Indian mothers are…

              and i dont know why there is NRI business at all? people are bleddy going off tangent taking this parenting style argument to NRI vs Resident Indian things…arrgh!

          • Have you noticed that while you question my ONE line, there are dozens of comments by people who share your same hallowed NRI status (from where you are free to question and generalise but unable to take what you dish out) saying a lot more. Are you going to condescend to them and say that they know nothing or are making generalisations or are totally wrong while you are absolutely right and fair?

    • “Education in USA costs almost a lifetime of earingsper child and getting through good schools is really, really tough now. ”

      true true true. Anamika os forgetting that education starts much earlier than college/grad school. If yo want to send you kids to good pre-, elementary, middle and high schools, that also costs a bomb because you eithet have to send you kids to a private school and may insane amounts of tuition fee or buy your house in a good school district and pay insane amount of mortgage. Of course you can buy a cheap house somewhere in a remote area and spend all your and your kids lives on the road commuting.

      “In the US only the upper middle class parents CAN pay the college fees for their kids..
      I am yet to come across ( either at my work or my B-school or my husband’s engg grad school) an American who didn’t have to work through college ( mainly waiting tables ) or/and take student loans to get thru college. They say I was very lucky that my parents paid for my college”

      Exactly, doesnt that corroborate the fact how expensive edication in the US is?

      Dont you think it is tough that parents have to save all their lives for the kids edication and still thats not enough and the kids have to take education loans to complete the studies and after graduation spend like 10 yrs in paying off their loan and then start saving for their own kids??

      I assume that you/your husband came here for grad studies like most other Indians. Of course grad school is financially easier because to all the assistantships etc. but do you even realkise that’s not the case for bachelors level or below?

      And look at the the top universities — we have people from all over the world competeting to get admission into them. I dont know what your definition of a good school is, maybe what’s average for other is good for you, but the schools where an average US educated Indian couple would like to send their kids to are very, very competitive.

      Besides, after reading the original comment by Divya, I dont think shewas trying to bad mouth India or look down at it. Honestly I fely she was only tring to clear the misconceptions about the West and expressing her opinion about Amy Chua’s style of parenting be it in the east or the west. I guess there are people, like me and possible Divya too, who grew up with liberal and supportive parent in India and they would oppose extreme parenting measures no matter where they live now.

      And besides, what the point in calling someone names like “you NRI types”? After all didnt MM say somewhere in the comments to this post something to the effect that she writes are posts to evoke strong opiniion and comments from the readers (dont remember the exact works but itwas something along that line though I may be a little off) so welcoms what others have to say because noone in the world know everything about every culture/country. Why do you have to “attack” your commentators if they do not agree with you or have some info that does not agree with what you want to hear? Like you, they have a right to their opinions too.

      Also, I think it is unfair to compare US with India and say things like “if they smacked their kids they would have less teengae pregnancies etc.” US is an amalgamation of so many culture…how can you define what is the “American culture”? An average educated “american” family has the same expectations and hopes for their kids like average educated Indians do. Heack, educated parents in any culture would want their kids to do well in life. It’s just that peopel may have different approaches. So while you may think pushing/smacking and pressuaring your kids is the way to achieve it I may differ and think that being respectful, gentle, understiang and supportive will help them get there. I dont understand why so many of you are hurt when an Indian parent voices his/her opinion in support of the latter approach. Why are you guys using his/her residentail status to attack them as snob NRIs? I am sure people like these will have same parenting views if they lives in India, especially if they themselves grew up like that. How does it make someone an ingrateful NRI who forgot his/her country?

      This post is about parenting style and everyone will have someting to say. Some people who know stuff about US closely would like to clear a few misconceptions while they are at it. Whats the need to jump your guns?

      PS: The “you” and “your” in my comment was meant for no one person in particular.

      • who exactly has been attacked? the first ‘attack’ if one wants to call it such – was on Amy chua and then on the way Asians treat their kids etc. one usually responds in kind but i thought i was rather moderate in my views.
        As for ‘calling them names like ‘NRI types’!! Err.. how exactly is that name calling?Its a statement of fact. you don’t like the fact that I put her in a category, thats because you dont know that historically I get such comments only from some NRIs who have no recollection of the ground realities here. I rarely get such responses from desis settled here who are clued in to what we deal with on a daily basis.

        Opinions are welcome, but the way you phrase them makes all the difference. Divya’s comment was addressed to me and if I find it rudely phrased, I have a right to respond in a way I find suitable. Just as you didnt like some of the responses and took umbrage.

        I think the reason her residential status is being discussed is because SHE brought it up as proof of how she is better placed to comment on the West. In which case its natural no, to remind her, that since she isn’t here, she is not in as good a position to comment on India as we are. Whats sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, right?

        • “I think the reason her residential status is being discussed is because SHE brought it up as proof of how she is better placed to comment on the West”

          So that definately makes her better equipped to comapre East and West since she has lived significant parts of her lives in both parts of the world unlike some people who form strong opinions about things they dont even know first hand! Think about it.

          • I disagree. If she lives there she is no real authority on daily Indian life. She is as much a visitor as any other foreigner who comes to visit. I think that is what annoys people who continue to live in India. You wouldnt want a desi who visits the US to pass a judgment on something they see in the one month they are there.

            If you moved to the US 10 years, i’m afraid your views are obsolete. The India you LIVED in ten years ago is very different to the India you VISIT, today. You might have a view of both sides, but I dont think you have very much authority on this one – IMHO.

            So it is particularly annoying to be condescended to by people who when they visit are likely to go – WHAT??? 1 lakh rupees in rent ?? What??? Dinner there is 2000 rupees a head without alcohol??

            On an aside, there are ten other NRIs who have also commented here and said the exact opposite of what she said… So.. .clearly what she says there too, has been disputed.

      • Let me keep it short this time 🙂

        If unlike 95% or more of the US population and like 100% of the Indian popoluation you want to fund your child’s college education even if it is $100K or more in tuition – So be it …
        What I was saying is when someone talks about the school admissions in India .. Ppl like Divya and you say – ” u know life in US is no bed of roses either” .. Totally Agree .. u see even Ambani or Bill gates will also have their own complaints like how they got 10Lakh electricty bill in one month ( which is true) or it is time to get a new personal chopper but they don’t like the choices available ….
        It is like comparing apples and oranges …
        Have you read MM’s posts on the school admissions in Delhi ….
        It is sad/sorry/bad state of affairs .. and we are talking about professional parents here …
        My frnds in other cities in India too have similar stories to share …U know a school in cochin got 4000 applications for 400 seats for LKG and they decided to do a lucky draw !!!
        What I ( and MM and few others ) were trying to say is in the US you won’t have THESE problems …
        To answer ur other 2 points
        a – Yeah private schools in US are expensive and buying homes in good school districts are expensive too .. but we r talking about ppl having PhD’s and masters and earning (generally) 6 figues and (usually) double income and hence the above 2 is NOT a BIG DEAL as compared to praying to god that your kid’s name gets picked in the lucky draw for admissions.
        b – I came to the US for my B-school (a top 10 uty) and I DID NOT get any scholarship/assistantship and spent 100,000$ for my MBA from MY pocket 🙂 ( I am not complaining .. just clarifying 🙂

        PS – I guess I can’t keep it short 🙂

        • “but we r talking about ppl having PhD’s and masters and earning (generally) 6 figues and (usually) double income and hence the above 2 is NOT a BIG DEAL ”

          Is it s abig deal in places like NYC, CA, even for PhD couples earning in 6 figues each. (Now if I say I am telling this from my and my friends experiences then I will be accused of bringing it up as proof of how I am better placed to comment on the West, so lets not get into there).

          Yes ofcourse B-schools do not offer assistantship. But then most Indian who got to B-school either come from righ families of have significant experience and savings in US (or corporate sponsorship) before they do for an MBA.

          On an aside, just as not everyone living in India would know the hardships ppl have to face their, not every NRI in US would know about the harships in US. Its only when life presents you with specific situations do you realise the ground truth. I know most young Indian couples without kids or with kids who are not even close to school going age are happily unaware of all the things involved in giving a good education to kids in US.

          And I believe there are hardships everywhere, be it India, US or any other place. So please be realistic and stop accusing NRIs of complaining for nothing. Sure they have easy access to certain comforts but tnen most of them worked their asses off to get where they are. If it makes anyone jealous then why dont they move to the West instead of crying how tough their life is whereever they are. I havent read a single comment from an NRI on this thread crying how easy life in India is with maids, cooks, drivers etc. while they have to EVERY damnthing on their own. On the other had there are so many comments from India taking pity on themselves and accusing NRIs for whatever comforts they have. I would opnly say that life is not a bed of roses for anyone and we all have both conforts and harships. SO sont cry that your glass in half empty and “others” glass is half full.

          BTW, I will make this last comment because some people cannot agree to see what they dont want to see. (I know this statement will be pointed back to me but.. whatever. I dont like getting into discussions when the other party lacks the ability to listen and think about is being said to them)

          • I think you’re on a tangent. You’ve lost focus of the point. No one said its a bed of roses in India. But its rather silly for one of the world’s most developed countries to compare their issues with a developing country where 40 % of the population is below the poverty line. This is not about who can afford a PhD or a school. This is about 40$ of the population not being able to afford ONE meal in the day and no govt help. Do you want to rethink what you’re debating now?

            What on earth are we blathering on about maids and cooks and comforts? If you honestly believe life in the US is harder than the life of an average Indian man carrying 5 people on a scooter, you wouldn’t be living there. Its a far more developed nation and the lifestyle on an average is much better. This is not something I am saying, this is a fact. Can we stop getting emotional and sarcastic now please?

            The comments will now shut to anyone who acts sarcastic because I am tired of wasting my time moderating you all.

  26. MM, your post comes at a time when my husband and I(first time NRI parents of a 10-month old) are thinking–how and when to teach our child to treat others with respect, behave well, learn to share, etc. Gosh, I so agree with your views in this post.

    “But it is our Indian mothers who will leave their husbands and homes in India and come to us for 6-12 months after delivery and cook and feed us and our children.” So true!! And Indian parents do it happily, giving up all their social life in India, to be locked in our house in the US for 6 months, while we go off to work.

    • I rest my case. All the best with the baby. No matter how often we think we have the answers, things go wrong. Now I am sure, that just to prove my wrong, my kids are going to behave terribly at the next party!

  27. I haven’t read Amy Chua’s book, only the excerpt which was provocatively titled to imply superiority of the Chinese way of parenting. When I read the article, I find Chua talking about HER parenting techniques (which you may or may not approve of), mentioning obvious differences between Chinese and ‘Western’ parents, but I don’t see any instance where she says outright her way is superior to the Western style of parenting. I don’t know whether the “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” is a title she came up with or it was something chosen by the editors, but it is this smug comparison which struck raw nerves everywhere, caused a furore, and will undoubtedly see Chua laughing all the way to the bank with skyrocketing book sales!

    Every culture has its own ways of parenting, based on socio-economic and other cultural factors. The strict regimen of Chinese/Asian parents, like you mentioned, often stem from the fact that there are few good schools/colleges and thousands of kids competing for the seats, not to forget the same competitiveness when it comes to landing good jobs. And yes, such strictness is bound to have negative side effects (which might or might not manifest in each and every kid), some of which are social awkwardness, low self esteem, stunted ability for creative thought, pressure-related suicides et al.

    On the flip side, permissive parenting as advocated by many Western parents, might foster self esteem and might aid original thinking, but it often doesn’t push kids enough to do their best and to use their potential in the best possible way. Each parenting style has strengths and drawbacks — the trick is not to go overboard with either and flesh out a system that works for your particular family and kid. Sorry about the long comment — seeing your balanced take on the issue made me want to share as well. 🙂

  28. Hi MM,
    I dont have kids but there a few things i find very strange with parents these days. Yesterday we had a friends over for dinner and i was stunned to hear their 2.5 yr old daughter goes for singing, spanish and a few more classes. My sister has a 3 yr old son, she says she is wondering if she is doing right by not sending her son for any classes and not pushing him learn anything other than basic things (one of his friends is 6 months younger than him and can point countries on the world map ) as we feel this is the only time in life he can enjoy without any pressure.
    Another thing that I find very irritating is why are parents making their kids video addicts at such a young age they have to keep showing them things on you tube on their phones even if they are in a room full of people who will gladly play with the kids and keep them entertained.

    • 🙂 Sometimes the kids don’t want to play with strangers or are undergoing some stranger anxiety – and those few min on youtube give the parents some time to socialize and have some adult interaction – just the other side of the coin.

  29. There must be a point to this post that so many are applauding but I didn’t get it really.

    So what you are saying that it is okay to smack a child or push a child using extreme measures if parents are down on the socio-economic scale, and we mustn’t judge those parents sitting in our cushy living room chairs which we’d leave behind for our children?

    And what about American mothers not putting as much effort into their children as Indian mothers do? I see that a lot of commentators support that view. Let’s hold our horses for a moment, and not judge those who we expect not to judge us … for lack of knowledge of the other on both sides is nothing but detrimental. A mother is a mother regardless of skin color. Let us not forget that.

    • Yes Roop, it is patently obvious from your comment that you didn’t get the point! I guess I’m going to have to give you the gist. You’re going to have to pay me for this extra tuition. So here are the salient points of this post –

      1. I find it strange that Indian parents are proclaiming shock and awe at Amy Chua when it is common to put a lot of pressure on kids here – for circumstantial reasons. I have no idea if you grew up in India or not so I can’t ask you to corroborate.

      2. With limited resources, 40% of the population under the poverty line, unemployment and more, one might not condone it, but one can see why parents put so much emphasis on excelling in academics. That pressure is falsely represented as cruelty alone – it involves a lot of time and effort on the parent’s part that it would be wrong to ignore .

      3. I’d say its okay to smack (for disciplinary purposes) any ill-behaved child, regardless of socio-economic status, if all other methods are resulting in a rude, ill-mannered child. A smack on the butt is not likely to affect anyone’s self esteem for life – people find it hard to understand that a rap on the hand is very different from child abuse. On the other hand, if you can handle your kid without it, that is great. So long as the kid is well behaved.

      4. And yes, we sitting in our cushy chairs leaving behind good connections and a home for our child, cannot judge those who are only struggling to ensure that their kids dont starve on the streets – which is, as I said, close to 50% of the population. I checked my old comments and find that you made a similar argument in defence of foeticide – don’t judge people who might knock off a girl baby or two because their compulsions are different.

      5. I didn’t say American mothers dont put as much effort. I said ANYONE who doesn’t put in as much effort as the Chinese or Indian hardcore moms, has also got to accept that while some of it is the desire to let the child be, a part of it is also laziness- not everyone has that commitment to giving their entire life towards raising a child. Those in agreement with me in the comments are also all mothers (many of them living abroad and so in as much of a position to claim a closer view, as you) so its not an accusation that I exclude myself from, or one that has no basis in the truth. I notice the same has been said in most rejoinders to her piece by the West too.

      6. Lack of knowledge is detrimental to anyone doing anything, obviously. A mother IS a mother regardless of not just skin colour but parenting technique, so do go back to the first point you’ve made in your comment, and dont judge a mother lower down on the socio-economic scale for pushing her child to earn a decent living. The initial judging if at all, began with Amy Chua’s post – I read the judgmental comments on that and the other posts mushrooming and the entire point was to say, don’t judge when people do things differently and fall into the regular trap of race baiting and making Asian countries seem arbitrary, crazy, and all the other usual stereotypes.
      The parent in the West has already got a basic living for his child assured because of far better policies assured its citizens which is why people migrated in droves at various points. They got their better life that way. Those who dont have that option open here, have to make the best of what they have. Let us not forget that either.

      • MM, whether it is American not being pushy and Indians being pushy parents is so much to do with our cultural upbringing…

        it is their culture to kick kid out to be independant when they turn 14…where as it is our culture to have them with us till the parents think they are ready to take care of ourselves..

        it is their cultural thing to earn for what / how you live. whereas it is our cultural thing to save money for our next generation and if lucky ducks like ambanis and tatas for their nth generation…

        it is their cultural thing to teach the kid what is ‘911’ at the age of 4 for a child..where it is a cultural thing for us to teach what is ‘9+1+1’ is…

        it is a cultural thing for them to not being pushy and it is a cultural thing for us to being pushy! we as a developing country and China as still a developing country think that education is the primary source of income…however in America, they are sam uncle with the green money…so education is still important however it is not that important…they still push the kids to learn other stuff like swimming and such..how in the world America can produce very many sportsmans if not for the parents to have identified those talents in their children and not having pushed them to excel in it? tell me that??

        it is a paradigm shift from both sides if we have to move to the other side…that is it! end of matter…at the end of the day ,me being an indian mother who was caned till she was in her 11th grade , will i cane my daughter to study more? NO!!! however if not for what my mom did to me and insisited the fact that education is my ONLY source of coming up, i wouldnt be sitting where am right now and typing this whole thing! so it is a pro and con! but finally depends on whether a person wants to be a moderate or ane extremists with their kid! that that mother, that that child!

        • I rest my case. For every one of us who is sitting here typing this, there is a mother somewhere who pushed us into being here. I wouldnt be what I am without my grandmother throwing the math copy at me the day I flunked math. Do I advocate it? No. Do I understand what their compulsions were? Totally.

        • it is funny that a Chinese friend of mine and I were discussing this book and how realised that Amy CHua is actually an extremist and we are actually moderate..coz we dont buy to everything she talks about Chinese or Indian parents…

          • Well I think that is true for everyone. The India I experience might be very different to the India that someone living two floors below me inhabits. We have different perspectives and experiences.

          • may be coz you were raised by indian parents in the western culture?
            these were not generalizations…these were the observations that I as an Indian mother have seen it happening in my daughter’s class and from my husbands best friends american wife?? it is the same way Amy Chua has completely generalised stating that ALL chinese mothers bring their kids like this? when my own Chinese friend does not buy it?

            if you read thru the end you would have realised me saying that that mother that that child which completely takes off the generalisations?

            • esp the 911 part i didntmake i tup…it was brought out in my daughters school monthly mingle on how different we are…which is supposed to be…and again am not accusing of that culture being different…am just stating that we ARE different..

        • Wow, culture, culture, culture!!!

          You have made so many crude generalizations that – have been lived in the US you are talking about?

          Is it my culture that I teach my kid to be respectful no matter I live in India or Canada??
          And what – only Indian mothers have ‘right’ over that ‘culture’??!!

          • Yes, IBH, what you wrote is just that. Generalizations. Just like those that Amy Chua makes.

            kicked out at 14? jeez. i grew up in canada too. i have a lot of non-indian friends and pretty much all of them stayed around at home until they finished uni. and if they moved out before finishing uni, their parents made sure the kids’ new apts were well furnished etc. what are you talking about? maybe you are just hanging out with the wrong crowd.

            i don’t even want to go at the 911 claim. do you even realize how rude and condescending that sounds?

            • Roop,may be am roaming the wrong crowd…but oh! did you know that as per the 2002 american census there are about 8-10% of kids under the age of 16 who have moved out of their parents? oh! well! wait the census folks too moved with the wrong crowd in America….and that in India it is practically 0%?? oh! wait again! they may be moving in the wrong crowd???

              again! I am mother of 4 year old american born kid, who goes to day care here for the past 6 months and do you know what was taught to her> what is 911 and how we need to dial when it is ’emergency’…and do you even know that my same 4 year old when she was 3 and half went to a pre-kg back in India at a ICSE school where they taught her to how to count 9 by hands and add 1 to it??? honestly! i thought i would give you benefit of doubt having known some of ur friends who are mothers…but unfortuantely you seem to have no idea on the schooling system here and in india…may be canada is different…all i would say is may be you should start looking at facts orread on your own before making accusations..if i were making generalisations i would have tried to defend…anyways! i dont know even know why the hell am replying to on of your dumbest inference of my comment….

            • I go by facts if those facts are generalising…so be it! let me rude…and you be the mahatma! seriously, i dont even understand why the hell are you in these discussions if you so put off by our parenting style discussions..

            • I don’t get it either. I really thought Roop swore six months ago never to have anything to do with the lot of us! And it again – had something to do with motherhood, if I remember correctly. Oh well, I’m done with this, Roop. The discussion is closed because I have something to celebrate and no interest in repeating myself.

      • I’ll respond later, MM, since I am on phone. As usual, you’ve aggressively jumped on a defence route. I asked for a clarification of the point and never did say your point was wrong or right. You need not defend anything. I shan’t pay for unwanted additional info. 😀

        So this post intends to say that Indian ppl should not be shocked with Chua’s article?

        • No, no, don’t bother if all you wanted was a clarification. we’re all good here then I guess. From the last line of your comment it seemed less like you wanted a clarification and more like you’d read me wrong and were accusing me of judging. whereas what I was doing was the exact opposite – asking others not to judge all pushy parents by Amy’s post.

          did it come across as aggressive? apologies, I only took my cue from you 🙂 (to say nothing of the fact that we have a history of fear and suspicion!!) and naturally can’t allow you to so blatantly misunderstand my point – for your sake as well as mine. also, I’d be very worried about my communication skills if it werent for the other 80 who understood what I said and debated their point from there onwards 😉

          This post intends to say that people of Indian origin who live in India, can’t claim to be shocked since this is common here, irrespective of whether they agree with her methods or not.

          PS: and also to say that pushy is not always equal to cruel. like in everything else in life, there are varying degrees.

          • Haha more than your communication skills, perhaps I should question my comprehension skills. :p The reason I guess I was so bewildered about the point of the post is cuz I was expecting for it to have introduced something new other than wat is common sense (all that you wrote) going by the reader reaction. I guess it must be a relief reading common sense written out on screen to get that reaction from ppl.

            For me, honestly, all I was thinking was “yeah, but isn’t that obvious? What does it add to my little knowledge?” I guess the problem lies with me. I always read to learn sthg new, and if I see nthg new, I skim it and let it be. Today, going by the public reaction, I figured I missed the point, and, hence, asked. 🙂

            As for second para, it is more a reaction to the anti-west tirade in the comments here. If Chinese methods aren’t cruel, western parents parents aren’t selfish creatures who are not concerned for their children. All of us know that and yet, such appalling generalizations! Even more disheartening when it comes from educated ppl which I am guessing readers here are. Yes, to such nonsense, I shall react.

            • See that is the point. It might be new or obvious to some people, but clearly not to a lot of others. on the whole no blog writes radically new stuff everyday. its all about our daily mundane lives.

              as for the tirade, i guess its as always, a reaction to the West’s reaction to Chua’s post.

            • No! it IS not anti west tirade..atleast my message was never meant to be sounding like that! if it did, i didnt mean to and apologies…in the other post i did mention that it is that that mother that that child..who am i judge some mother coz she wanted her kid to be good atone thing an dnot other! no! it never was meant to be an anti-west thing!

  30. Also dont you think it is a selfish nature of the parent to see the child excel in everything?SO this friend Tina was talking to me about how a world famous pianist, Lang Lang was giving a concert at Columbus and that her in laws who are with her now wanted deseperately to see the pianist play…seems like their in laws would compare her daughter Alice to Lang Lang and say that you need to oneday become like him! what bull shit i say!

    it seems this Lang Lang has practicsed so much in life that he has lost of most of his childhood…like how Amy Chua tells us all, i want them to perfect the piano stroke that she couldnt get it right…she made her play for 6 hours straight and not even allowing her to go potty? dont you think if she was that good at piano, wont she be the next Lang Lang?? that Amy Chua’s daughters i mean! you can only go to a certain limit to push the kid but if the kid doesnt posess that talent you cant make them perfect and becom this absolutely talented kid…right?> am i making sense? not everbody who practices for 6 hours at a stretch everyday can be lang Lang or not everybody who takes a bat can become Sachin…if Sachin was not asked to play cricket by his father, he wouldnt be what he is…

    so as a moderate mother, i will see the end of the tunnel with no light for my kid if she tries one thing and keeps failing (which am sure they will fail in one thing or the other) but the extremist mother wont see!

    i dont know how such basic stuff people kind oversee! ok! i think i said enuff! i should reopen my blog 😉

    • don’t you think there are going to be extreme cases every where and a middle path which involves pro’s from both the cases the best solution? I mean personally my mom did cane me, yet she did not take it to the extreme coz as far as I know without being sentimental that if a mom canes her child she would also be the first person to comfort her! and if the said child is taking a wrong route shouldn’t it be the mother to have a strong word with the child rather than just letting it be (with a feeble scolding) in the pretext of freedom?

    • While I think it is unfair for any parent to push a child to excel in everything, I don’t think it is always fueled by selfish motives. A child is something you have created, spend time and energy on and love enough to want the best for. Just like you’d want to build the best business or do up your home well. At some point you have to remember that a child is an individual and not just a project so you can’t push too hard. but you have to realise that there is nothing major in it for a parent if a child becomes famous. Nothing compared to what there is in it for the child, at any rate. Maybe I will be famous by extension if the Brat becomes a world famous activist, but that is nothing compared to what the Brat will get out of his own success. Why would one assume that I want it more for myself and not for the Brat’s own happiness and well being? that is just an unnecessarily negative view of it and at times we’re just casting aspersions without any proof.

      I dont know your friend or the exact situation but off the top of my head, I’d say that if my son was taking up cricketing I’m sure there’d be no harm in telling him – Come on baby, you can be the next Sachin Tendulkar. There is real pressure and then there is this sort of encouragement. I guess its a matter of semantics too. We might phrase things differently while meaning the same thing. So what are we faulting here – the words or the emotion behind it? Is it better to say – you’re fat – or you have a weight problem?

      While I’d never stop a child from going to the loo while practicing, i do believe that practice is what its all about. A child who has talent, has no idea of how to hone that talent. Children are easily distracted. My grandmother insisted on my mother learning Bharatnatyam and when my mother whined and tried to bunk, she tells me her mother who would be combing her long hair would reach out with the comb and whack her on her calves and send her back to dance. My mother was one of the best Bharatnatyam dancers until she left for college hostel. Once there she couldnt learn further. The marriage and settling in a remote area ended that. She’s still a brilliant dancer, walks with so much grace, and can jive etc beautifully because she has that basic training.

      Moving on to me. I was trained in Kathak and Rabindra Sangeet. in a few months it was rather apparent that I was no good at dancing and wasnt enjoying it either whereas I had a good voice that could do better with training. And so it began. An hour a day with the teacher and then an hour of riyaz or practice after she left. As it happens, that lovely old lady who was teaching me, lost her voice and I was sent to learn from another professional. I couldnt stand her and neither did I like missing out on two hours of my playtime so I whined and whined and finally at age 12 or something after 8 years of voice training, I was let off the hook by my mother who didn’t want to force me.

      Today I look back on my certificates and I see a brilliant career lost. I could have been singing playback or something. and I fight with my ma and ask her why she didnt insist on my training further. At 12, it was my job as a child to whine. It was their job as parents to give me a kick in the pants and send me back. I had no idea that I was talented or that you need to sacrifice something to gain something. What does a child understand? I just took my voice for granted.

      There is obviously a middle path here – remember we all discussed it on email? Rohini said its up to a parent to push their child out of a comfort zone. And there is obviously a lot of effort that goes into it. I take the Brat for Taekwondo class and then swimming and he refuses to do either. I know that I partly give up out of sheer exhaustion and partly because I have these huge doubts about whether it is right to push a child. A more determined mother like Rohini will probably push her son harder, for his own good. At the end of it all, her son will swim and know self defence. But my son, I don’t know what he will have at the end of all this !

  31. This is pretty much why I obsessively keep checking back to see new posts on your blog. Because, your posts are so well balanced, so well written and I always come away with either a new perspective or an example of how a writer can keep a sense of balance when writing about the most controversial topics.

  32. Totally off the topic.. yeah parents asking kids to lose weight is fine and should be done the right way .. but pesky aunties going up to kids and saying “Kitni moti ho gayi ho ..jao do round aur lagao ” is simply not acceptable! I saw that happening in my building yesterday and went up to the aunty and gave her a piece of my mind on how she denting the kid’s self esteem!

  33. First things first – never commented here. read sporadically and came back today just generally to read this.
    Now, when i read the article by Amy i for obvious reasons didn’t agree. but then when i read urs i saw myself nodding too. Not to say that now i agree to Amy’s article. But I do agree to your points.
    Environment plays a major role on what one aspires. And the means to reach that are always in line with the current situation.
    So although at some point some parents would want only happiness for their children, in another household that happiness will be equated to having a comfortable home and enough security.
    Well Said MM.

    and for discipline and glare – it works. My mum has never raised a finger on either me or my sis. Only the glare would do the trick. and i guess we have turned out fine.

    Having said all this I still maintain that each mother wants the only best for her child. So whatever means she chooses has to be the best according to her. And since i am not a mom yet, i can very well think of hypothetical situations and imagine how i will react. The reality i am sure will be a lot different!

    • See that is my point. At first reading, Amy’s article is meant to make a very hard point. I don’t think she regularly denied her children a loo break. And finally, every child will look back and have some complaint about the way their parents did things. So I’m going to take anything her kids say with a pinch of salt too.

  34. Applause applause applause! So enjoyed this post and reading the coomenst is as much fun as the post itself. I have as usual tons to contribute to the dialogue here, so bear with me.
    Would like to share my own eg: My dad and sometimes mom, beat me black and blue on a regular basis(once weekly) for any and every mischief. Didnt matter how serious or minor the ‘badmashi’. It was so bad that sometimes relatives/neighbours had to intervene to stop them from hitting me. As a result my younger brother, thankfuly, got it better. They were forced to calm down by the time he arrived. But by then I had been beaten ,literally, so much that I was on a different plane altogether. Sly, rebellious and anti-men. The most glaring part of my personality was the slyness- I learnt to hide anything and everything from my folks else I would get a beating of my life, each worse than the previous. It seemed my parents were of the view that thrashing a child is the only way to parent. Anyhow, to cut a long story short, it was just the grace of God and some kind relatives that I grew in to a ‘normal’ sensible adult. Out of all those beatings my one resolve evolved- I will be kind to all human beings-even to the scum of earth-types.

    Five years ago, newly married sitting in my parents house we were having a general dining-table argument and I was rude to my dad, he got up and gave me two slaps across my face. My poor husband who comes from an almost bohemian-free-spirited family was too shocked to even react. But he turned around and told my dad that he is lucky that I had turned out so normal and had made wise-good choices throughout my adult life etc.

    My point in recalling all this? Like you said MM, parents try and do their best for their children…some might have it all warped and wrong but the intention of the majority, I think it’s safe to assume, is to do the best for the child.Yes, i do think my parents were horrendously abusive towards me but even so ,I have never ever doubted the love my parents have for me and now for their grandchild. The point is, inspite of so much physical cruelty, I have no clue how my parents have managed to reassure me that they have loved me and wanted the best. It is only easy to be aghast at some of the parenting styles we see all over, but if we make an effort to keep the larger pic in mind it wont be so tough for many of us.

    I write the above with a sense of resgination…towards my own past and for all those things-certain things, which wont change for parents world over. Like a parent wanting his child to be successful or marrying well for example….it has nothing to with the countires we live in or cultures we come from and yet we judge each other so harshly. The Bible says, which father will give his child a scorpion when the child is asking for food?Just goes to show all momies and dadies do try hard!

    Have tremendously enjoyed reading this post and all of your recent ones. Thanks MM!

        • She must be. Sadly though, MM, there are many Harshikas that live on among us somehow focusing on the positives in life. My life story is exactly the same as Harshika’s if not worse. Hence, I really question the extent at which this pushiness turns to abuse.

      • @Roop: Yes, I am very much in touch with my folks. I visit them every 6 months in India and we speak over the phone everyday. Infact, I adore them as does my brother.

        • Harshika..you seem to be a person with ‘golden heart’. I admire you for having no hard feelings for your parents.

          • please don’t take this wrong, harshika … i am proud of you for persevering.

            but preethi, would you really say the same if she was maintaining a similar relationship with an abusive spouse? really just curious.

            i want to know ppl’s thought process. not questioning harshika’s decision at all. good for her that she is happy. much much power to her really.

      • @Iya: lol…me God? No yaar, it took years of weird/warped teenage years to come out of it. Every time my dad belted me or slippered me I would hate him. I sustained injuries and scars, some of which are still there..i would look at them and break down. But really, all it took was for the healing touch of Christ to restore me and sort me out. Over time, I felt totally cleansed of unforgiving thoughts towards my parents and again it was Christ who caused me to love them. Becuase of my beatings my little brother used hate my dad-mom as he felt guilty about being let off while his sister was routnely physically punished…but even he grew out of it when he saw how normal i became…also, my closest aunts, uncles and cousins would intervene and rescue me so their kindness kept my faith going in human beings in general. They all gave me so much love that it often compensated for the mindless thrashing.God never abandons us babe!

      • @IBH: Thanks. :)2 good things came out of all this abuse.

        To be kind no matter how extremely unlikeable a person is in his acts or words-infact I call annoying people ‘EGR’s-Extra Grace Required-they do need all the help they can, from above!

        Secondly,I became a teacher! I worked as a civil servant for aprrox a year and then gave it up to teach kindergarten. It was the best decision although I fully expected a thrashing when I announced I was quitting the IAS.Lolll! Anyway, have had a good life being with kids of all ages, so really no regrets.

    • ?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


      Harshika, you say your parents learned to behave better and not beat your brother, and yet, after you got married, you still got hit!

      Don’t you think it’s necessary to insist that he not treat you that way?!

      • and btw… just cos you turned out okay does not make what your parents did okay does it?

        Granted that you still love them and all, but you don’t condone their behaviour cos “that’s all they know” do you?


        • @sanjana: Ofcourse I dont in any shape or form condone what my parents did…I think I did mention I went thru years of hurt and hatred too…but thankfuly I grew out of it. My parents have/had anger issues and I guess I was just handy to become a punching bag…no doubt i was a nauhgyt and a strong willed child and drove them mad but they obviuosy didnt have it in them to deal with me more patiently and gently. And i also mentioned, everyone closely involved in my life often came to my rescue and tried to make my folks see reason…nothing worked. Eventually we all gave up, i got beaten some more and then i was suddenly away from home working in a diff city. I cannot take any credit for forgiving them since I truly believe only divine intervention enabled me to come so far. As for my bro never getting it…i dont know…i suppose they got used to hitting me or something. I am aware this sounds terribly weird…but trust me girl, I am a happy, contented and a peaceful individual. And am also happy with the way life has treated me. Infact I am practically boring now.. mommy and wife and all that jazz you know!
          A commentor said somewhere here, shit happens-deal with it and get a life and finally grow up! So true no?

          ps- MM sorry we are hogging all this space…at no point i wanted all this attention to move away from the main topic….

          • From what you say, your parents seem to think they have the right to hit YOU and only you. They don’t hit anyone else they get pissed off with or your bro. Which means they are perfectly aware of what they’re doing and able to control their feelings.

            It’s great that you are happy and content in spite of all this.. but if your parents continue to behave the way they do ( as you say they do), and u’re not bothered to stop them, then how are you NOT condoning it? I’m not saying be all weepy abt the past. All I’m saying is… take control of the future (of this particular aspect of your life).

        • me is curious too! just the same. no, i refuse to leave anything to SkyDaddy and force myself to be at peace. i wouldn’t want any kid of mine or anyone else i know to go through half the shit i did. i want them to learn from me as an example that what happened is wrong and i’ll make sure that i am heard through my words and actions! that’s just my pov.

          • @roop: Yes ofcourse you are entitled to your views. We all have mechanisms to deal with our pvt issues. We are humans, desgined to seek answers and solutions and pain relief.In my case, asking Christ helped and healed. So, I certainly did not have to ‘force’ myself to be at peace with my situation as you seem to have gathered about me. On my own, I am too weak and helpless but with God I am ‘able’. Do what you feel will help you best. As they say,whatever floats your boat mate!

  35. Guess this comment comes in late, but its okie…I still have to comment…My mom was what you call a strict mom, who would not think twice before whacking us if we did anything wrong…But hey I still love my mom and at the age of 29 still run to her 🙂 My dad was super cool who has never ever scolded me or my bro till date…and I still run to him at the age of 29! between my hubby and me, he is calm with R and I am strict with her though havent really whacked her yet…but I guess even between parents if one of parent is strict the other should be slightly calmer so that there is a balance…and somehow, I feel that we need to introduce our kids to all activities, whether they want to pursue it or not, lets leave it to them…though when you write that your mom didnt force you at the age of 12 into music, you feel bad now..well I dont know..I think I would do what your mom did..I wouldnt really push you…
    parenting techniques are different in every region, every country and perhaps for every parent..because each child is different…if Amy Chua did that to her kids may be because she was convinced by her parenting techniques..if you bring up B&B in a particular way because you and OA believe in it..I totally agree when you say that lets find a middle path of upbringing..and oh BTW..my mom didnt come after my baby’s delivery though my MIL did come to take care of her till she was 1..and after that its daycare zindabad!

  36. Hi!
    Im a long time lurler de lurking today 🙂
    Well being single and no kids, this article and your blg post just made me think a lot.
    I come from a fairly modern, open minded family. My sister and I have been brought up with a lot of freedom in terms of what we wear, go out, deadlines etc. For eg. that whole phase of lying about sleepovers to goto a disco never happened coz my parents were always like tell us where and with who then go!
    BUT at the same time, my parents (more dad) was fanatical about being good in studies, I was a brilliant student and post 10th I took up science, Im not sure if I wanted to do commerce or arts but the thing is we never discussed those options.
    My point is that sometimes because of the competition and peer preassure that exists parents do end up pushing their kids even in the best of the households, I would say I come frm an upper middle class household but tht never stopped my dad frm focusing al ot on academia as such. There is no right or wrong, chinese or american school of thought thats better. Its just each parent, each child, each situation and I guess whatever works is the best for that particular child!
    In my case my parents pushed me more than my sister and on paper I would say mycareer prospects are better than hers. But im only 28 and 10 yrs (or even 5yrs down the line) things may change.

    • see that is the point with the naysayers – they assume that any parent strict about studies is a terribly pushy parent. they forget that at the stage the country was in, the way our economy was, till even ten years back, children had to push to get anywhere.

      who are you to decide what a child needs more? how do you know how badly a child is being pushed by his parent? how do i know how neglectful a mother is when she says that she is letting her child be?

  37. One point that you mentioned in one of the comments, which I wanted to point out – how many of us here wish our parents had pushed us just that teeny bit harder at continuing with something? I, for one, do.
    As a kid, I was sent to drawing and painting classes. Dad noticed a couple of nice strokes that I had drawn and decided I could do with training. When I said no to it, after 3-4 classes, they took me out of it, without saying a word. I was 5.
    My grand dad went to a mission school hostel where pattani (dry, roasted peas) was all that his poor, widowed mother could afford to give him! He grew up on the merit of his academic excellence alone and when he became a school teacher, he along with his wife (my grand mum was a school principal), decided their 3 sons would get the best education. That all 3 would do their collegiate studies in Madras and not in the small town they lived in; that they would do what it takes to help the boys get there. Being caned and disciplined for not doing well in academics was par for the course. I have never heard my dad or my uncles complain.
    And I discovered why, when on a visit to my grandparents’ place 3 years ago, I came upon a tiny notebook, filled with my then 15-year old uncle’s wish list of what he wanted to be – a well paying job, to travel around the world, to own a house and car. Every single one of those had been ticked off his list. Some might call the list banal and materialistic – but for a small town boy who went barefoot to school, those were very real dreams.
    Opportunities mean different things to different people at different points of time. Its like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – you aspire for the next step, only because you have reached somewhere. Perhaps the West is already there and the East has a long way to go. For all those expressing shock and revulsion at what you have written here, I wonder what the option they are offering is.

  38. Hmm, darling. I posted on this too. On karmickids. And this struck a chord. “The truth is, it takes a lot of effort to be that obsessive parent. Most of us don’t have the commitment to do it. Admit it. Do you have it in you to DO that? ” Yes. I dont have it in me to be obsessive parent. It takes a hell of a lot to be one. I;d rather chill, and push the kid along with occasional barks. The middle path for me. Maybe the brat can grow up and curse me for his mediocrity! LOL.

  39. I think Amy Chua was being deliberately provocative because she has a book coming out. In a later interview with WSJ (http://blogs.wsj.com/ideas-market/2011/01/13/the-tiger-mother-responds-to-readers/) she pretty much recants all of it and blames the headline on the editors. I think that is a rather sad cop-out. In fact, she says that she herself gave up on the kind of parenting she wrote about in the article because her daughter rebelled. So she pretty much wrote all that just to make a splash which I think shows a sad lack of integrity.

    Overall, your point about how those who have or have had it hard in life push their kids holds good. The typical Chinese parenting ethic stems from historically having to work very very hard to achieve a decent standard of living, and so they push their kids (as you said Indians of a certain class do). And that is going to take more than a couple of generations to die out… and when the kids largely end up doing well in life and not having (or not talking about) the psychological toll of that upbringing, it becomes a self-perpetuating thing. I think Indian people being aghast is because Indians see themselves in competition with everything Chinese, when in this case, they are to quite an extent on the same side of the parenting spectrum (ie- tending to push kids to excel, particularly at mainstream things like academics).

  40. I think that all this debate creates a lot of pressure on us as parents – it seems that nothing we do may be the right choice. Being strict could have terrible consequences, whereas being too soft could have equally bad consequences. How does one know as to what is the right balance? As correctly stated by you and Amy, which child has the patience to learn an instrument unless pushed at some point of time? At the same time, I would never dream of forcing my child to practice for hours at a stretch without even a meal in between!

    And then when the child grows up, how do you measure whether he/she is successful or not and whether your parenting techniques “worked” – did it work if the child becomes the next manmohan singh, indra nooyi or mother teresa or if the child is an average joe, but gives you a hug and says “mom you have been so great. I have so many wonderful memories of my childhood and am a happy adult thanks to you.”

    Too much pressure I say!

    Having said that, I have the smallest observation to make, which is that as a parent no one set of parenting principles and style would work universally for both/all your children. A lot would depend on the personality of the child as well and one must learn to adapt one’s parenting style accordingly. For instance, telling one child that she is fat, may not be insulting, whereas telling another she is fat could be viewed as a serious insult and telling this child “sweetheart, I am really enjoying my power yoga classes. Perhaps you should may too” may be a much better approach. Similarly, for a child who is confident and doesn’t think she needs to be spend much time on her homework, you may need to use a stricter approach to get her to excel by constantly reminding her that “exams are around the corner”, whereas for a nervous child, telling him to calm down and that “exam results are not the be all and end all of life” may encourage better results.

    P.S. Sorry for taking up so much space on your blog. Just needed to vent about the pressure that all this conflicting advice creates on those of us who desperately want to be “good” parents.

  41. Baap re itne saare comments.
    Poof! I forgot mujhe kya kehna tha.
    Something to the effect that Brat and Bambi and quite alike. Was thinking about it yesterday. His best friend has ‘graduated’ to school, turned 4, so he’s being described as ‘lonesome.’ Kaafi pitt ke aate hain school se but insists alles mijn vriendjes. All are my friends. Of course. Kar bhalla so ho bhalla. So I am going to the doctor. Gallaa dabaa do mera. Kiss to your tailbone.

    • LOL – yes, its become a bit of a mela no? but good fun to see so many POVs …
      Bambi and Brat are alike… very alike. Maybe someday they will meet, and become friends like we did. bambi bhi pitta hai? then there is no hope for my son in Haryana, no?
      Gala still bad? my tail bone is in bad shape. could barely walk – but i am able to move so i dont think its broken!

  42. i agree, wholeheartedly, 100% and then some. i’m gonna bookmark this, coz mine’s just seven months old. absolutely loved this post. my mom was the same, she might have threatened me with her ‘bailan’ (thats what we call what you bailofy roti with), but just her glare did the job. i was terrified of it. she never had to scold me in public because that glare, and i knew what was coming my way. and today, all i see are parents getting manipulated, left right and center. i want to come back and read this, and get a refresher course each time i feel i’m becoming one of ‘those’.
    thanks MM 🙂

    • thank God so many of you are talking about the glare. I was wondering if I was the only wussy kid who was terrified of mama looking at me. but i have to tell you, i’m getting good at it. it didnt work on my kids earlier and my mother despaired of me ever getting it right, but i think i’m getting there!

      • Dear MM, you dont realise that we belong to an entirely different generation. My mom’s glare would give the effect of more than 10 whacks. She tries to give the same glare to my 2year toddler and he starts laughing or he tries to make her laugh with all his silly tactics. Kids these days are much smarter than us…making it more difficult to a parent like me who is trying very hard to be a good one at parenting !!

  43. @Roop- I haven’t yet commented on this post because just reading everyone’s differing opinion on a topic teaches me something about their life and their individual life experiences which, while being far removed from mine still gives me a window into their world. According to me, the whole point of a post is to make people think, irrespective of what they think about or whether they agree or disagree with the views in question…

  44. I read Amy Chua’s article & all the responses it got. Agree on all what you say. Every child, every parent is different. You have to find out what best works for you & your child.

    I want my child to be well mannered. She is a strong willed person. But I don’t think twice about giving a whack or whatever it takes if she misbehaves anywhere. Children will never understand if you don’t step in immediately & do it 2 hrs later. Sometimes, I am at a loss of words to explain things to her. I was talking to her about having a small Birthday celeberation at home and not waste money by having a party ‘outside home’. We would donate the money to the poor.She has been attending Birthday parties of friends in various venues. She understands that very well and agrees and says but says “Tell aunty A & aunty S also not to give Brithday parties outside, but give the money to the poor”.

    Regarding education here in the US, I feel they take it light on Children. I am told, after they reach middle school, they do have more to study. I don’t know. I always feel that my daughter not well equiped for Indian schools & she may not get into a decent school when we come back here. I know a lot of Desis who think like me. We put our children to Math & Reading classes. We worry about what second language will they learn? Hindi is a safe bet. But, it is hard to find people teaching Hindi as a language here. Even though we are upper middle class,we still think education is essential to get you up in life. And, we will do whatever we can to help her with that. Children don’t know what is good for them. If you can tell them what to wear and decide what to buy for them you can also decide what classes they should attend.
    I am surprised at the reaction for Amy’s article from India. Did most of us not grow up in a similar way? It IS a rat race & you have to fight to get in, if you want the best. Are there not entrace tests to get into coaching classes for IIT? Are parents not ferrying kids for those classes at 4 & 5 am in the morning? I am not judging that it is right or wrong. But I am only surprised that people are shocked about reading Amy’s article when you see similar people all around you. May be they are shocked that she still followed that kind of parenting in the US. To each her own.

  45. MM I really liked your post and had so many things to say and then started to read the comments and my brain is blank now hehe…Anyhow, I feel like there is no clear right or wrong in parenting…every parent is defined by circumstances, what they have gone thru etc..I am an adopted child and my birth mom who was seperated from her husband when she was pregnant with me, had faced a lot back in the days, so she had a very negative and pessimistic attitude towards people and life, I can now begin to understand her after all these years – after being married myself and having babies…I had three wonderful women (and my adopted dad) raise me – my birth mom, my grandma and my beloved adopted mom. I didnt agree with my birth mom and grandma for many years, their parenting styles still make me wonder how I grew up without any emotional issues…But at the end of the day, once you can stand up on your own feet, I think you should stop bitching and blaming someone else for how your life has turned out and go do something to change it yourself and take it in the direction you want it to…Again, maybe the kids who have been sexually abused or violently hit by their parents all their lives have their spirits crushed so much that they cant begin to find the strength to stand up, but what percentage of the entire population might fall into that category?? I have a friend who keeps whining about how she wanted to take Science but her Mom didnt think she had it in her to face the pressure of Science and forced her to take Commerce blah blah…I am so tired of her whining, you are 33 years old, shut up and take charge of your life, go get a management degree or whatever…for some, its more convenient blaming someone else for their shortcomings than to take the effort to make a change themselves..

  46. I agree with what you said for the most , but wanted to say few things:

    1. Amy Chua does not represent a typical Chinese or Indian mother – where she had to use the methods she describes because of too much population and too few resources.
    So, even though I agree that her methods are necessary for the lower strata in India to ensure their children succeed, she necessarily did not need some of these extreme methods.Most of the article was written to create sensationalism,
    Also, She has an American husband, so I’m sure her daughters saw the influence of both Western and Eastern methods.
    2. Amy does raise some valid points – one of which being that children , even when intrinsically good at something need to be pushed to reach their full potential. I think the key here is to discover their talents and likings, and not push our likings on them.
    3. Lastly, I do not agree with this statement of yours –
    “But it is our Indian mothers who will leave their husbands and homes and visit us for 6-12 months after delivery and cook and feed us and our children….. I don’t know if American mothers would give up their lives for their children and then go on giving it up for their grandchildren after that. You may not appreciate the way the East does things, but it works for them and it works brilliantly. When they parent – they parent in a way that encompasses every aspect and they take their last breath, still doing something for their precious children. ”
    Not that the statement per se is not true, but its the attitude of the children which really bothers me.
    Are we really so stuck up in the thought of mothers love(our mothers will sacrifice our lives for us) that we believe that our parents have no life outside their kids?? That they can easily skip 6 months out of their life to take care of us??
    I see so many couples here (in US/Canada) who will invite their mothers to take care of the baby?? Why aren’t parents invited for visit any other time? And what a sorry life most of these parents lead here for those 6 months – no social networking, harsh climates , no interaction even with their own kids (since they are so busy pursuing their careers), and lot of hard work. I really feel sorry and think that this expectation that our parents owe us this, since we are giving them grand kids is totally wrong.

    Also wrong is the assumption that not many American mothers will do this. Mothers all over the world love their children, so judging just by the mere fact that an American mom would not keep her life aside for 6 months to take care of grandchild – so she may be somewhat less of a mom ??Even if they did, is that the yardstick with which we measure our mothers love?

    And aren’t many moms today in India too, who are still working when they become grandmothers, cannot put their careers aside for 6-12 months??

    So, its high time we started giving this as a sign of Indian mothers better love. It is actually more a sign of children’s sense of entitlement.

    • Very true, I would never call my mother to take care of my kid but I know its also because she wouldnt appreciate leaving her life and being stuck here for 6 months. But for the children and parents who do it, it works. Those grandparents are dying to spend time with their grandkids, they are usually retired, travel to the US is expensive and its better to make a long trip, they’d like to be of use to their children and for those children – they feel safe leaving their kids with their parents and it works for them. Who are we to judge?

      And no one said anything about an American mother loving less. Its all about culture and perspective, right? So just as a mother who doesnt put aside 6 months of her life shouldnt be judged as one who loves less… similarly one mother who pushes her child out of poverty shouldnt be judged either. They’re just different ways.

  47. Phew! okay over the last 2 days I read the post, all the comments and then the post again…

    This am Amy chua was on the morning show on TV (but of course)… I was rushing to work, didn’t get the chance to see the interview but the hubby did and we started talking about parenting on the way to work..Bad idea…we were fighting about it by the time it was time to say “bye, have a good day!” . Our views are conflicted and we are confused.. God save our children when they come along.

    Anyways..not to flatter your or anything MM, but the way you said it is so so so darned different from the way Amy chua said it. YOU said it better! Your post made me THINK. There were some things I agreed to instantly n the rest, I was forced to THINK about. I couldn’t dispute stuff ‘coz there was logic associated with every point you made (like how your housemaid can’t afford to let her child to choose arts or letting your son make the decision to jump off the 14th floor).
    Whereas Amy took pride in making herself sound like Hitler and said that that is the SUPERIOR way to parent. Her daughter said she did have fun but amy’ s article felt like she was sayin that Asian moms are “superior” ‘coz they don’t let their children have any fun. Its kinda hard to u’stand or nod one’s head in agreement to that. Her title suggests that she is comparing. N any kinda comparison is bound to create problems. So many of your readers love your parenting, and cheer you on when you say that you feel you’re doing a good job as a mother, but the minute something you say comes across like your saying “I’m the better mother”.. people are gonna criticize you. Nobody likes to be told they are not good at something that they are trying to do their best at. May be that is the explanation for the reaction from the moms in the west? I’ll be honest even my instant reaction to Amy’s piece (when I read it several days back) was shock and disapproval. N I grew up getting whacked by my parents when necessary.

    Hats off to you… for reading between the lines of Amy’s piece and explaining it to the rest of us.

    • 🙂 thanks. I think that is because I didnt do a post as a knee jerk reaction (scary thought – I might be growing up!)
      I gave it some thought, realised it was common here and figured I should give some thought as to why it happens. At no point will I support a kid being beaten up or abused, but I also find it rather ridiculous that kids are taught to report any whack on the bum. How is a parent supposed to handle their kid? why doesnt the social service come and handle 6 am tantrums when you’re trying to wake, brush, feed and put them on a bus too? It takes a lot to be a parent and if you judge the way a certain person does it, I might agree. You judge the way an entire society functions and I will ask you to stop and re-think your judgment and your prejudices.

      • Yes this teaching kids to call 911 if parents as much as touch you thing….i find it beyond ridiculous! I mean..how does one bring up a child without repraimanding them?

        I have a friend at work who just turned 30 in 2010 and has 3 children, the eldest one being 12 yrs old. she did not even complete high-school. When we talk about culture and childhood, she often says I wish my parents had been a wee bit stricter, whacked me, forced me to go to school, to study. As a parent she is a strict mom, her 2-yr old was taught to put away his dinner plate in the dishwasher when her husband left to Afghanistan for the war last year. She struggled being a single mom for 3 kids one full year. She loves her 12 yr old but of course she misses what others of her age got to do between 18 and 27 before they settled down into marriage, kids and the works. She had to take on a LOT of responsibility, including a divorce at a very young age. I have another colleague whose 19-yr old girl quit college ( ‘coz she ‘Didn’t like it’ ) and joint our office recently…frankly I’m dyin to ask my colleague why she won’t force her daughter to go to college, but of course it’s none of my business, so I shut up. And yes sometimes the cane works better than the carrot.

        This morning my hubby, gave me an example of how 19 girls in one school have gotten pregnant this winter in the US. He said , you will never find such big numbers in India and parenting has got to have something to do with it. Honestly I don’t know whether I agree or disagree with that argument.

        While I give you these examples, I know that there are many American children who have made a great future for themselves.

        Would u agree that Amy’s article to some extent passed a judgment on the entire American society’s parenting style?

        • Sure I’d say that Amy’s article passed judgment. Thats what articles do. Any article has to take a side. When you pick up a newspaper, you read it because it is leftist/rightist/takes a stand. Every piece of writing that is interesting, takes a stand. Is she right about the American style of parenting? I really don’t know or care. Which is why I didn’t comment on it.

          What I do understand is why Asians behave they way they do and what compels them to make certain choices. And all I wanted to do, was take a look at that hitherto ignored side.

        • “19 girls in one school have gotten pregnant this winter in the US. He said , you will never find such big numbers in India and parenting has got to have something to do with it…..”

          I left India 7 years back, but even then we heard of teen pregnancies and abortions – that too in college and university we studied.Its just that these things are swept under the rug to save family honor!!
          And what has Indian parenting got to do with it?? How many Indian parents actively provide sex education to their children?

    • I love this PV’s comment. Actually when I read your post, I wasnt sure what you were trying to say. I thought you were trying to support Amy, whose article I thought was in poor taste. It had a smug, superior air to it and her poor husband didnt seem to have a say in child rearing. And as a commenter pointed out (whom you rebuffed, I was sorry to see), Amy did not come from a background that you described in your post.

      But going back and reading it as a post by itself on why Indian parents raise their kids the way they do, it made much more sense. What you say is totally true, even though like you said, the new generation of parents (including me and you) may not follow the same style of parenting

      • Its strange that a few readers thought I was supporting Ms Chua, but I think that is more because they might have had pre-conceived notions about what I was GOING to say instead of paying attn to what I actually did say. Fortunately most readers understood the post clearly and I myself can’t see a single line where I say hers is the way to go. I’d say any parenting extreme is not right – be it as stern as hers or as easy going as many others.

        I see no reason why you should be sorry to see someone rebuffed for not just having poor comprehension skills but also accusing the post of things it does not say. Why is it that its okay for a commenter to mis-read, wrongly accuse and act sarcastic while directly addressing me? And why must you call it a ‘rebuff’ when I respond in the same token? Its strange how people have expectations from me to constantly put up with lack of comprehension as well as sarcasm. I have a regular job, a family, a life and then this blog – I honestly don’t have the time to deal with ridiculous comments in a patient way. There might be others who do, but they are sure to be better people and I’m not sure they take the time out to respond to nearly every single opinion.

        I am very happy that you got my point finally even if it meant taking the time to re-read it. I just wish others would do that so that the discussion might progress fruitfully instead of me just having to constantly respond with paraphrasing, giving the gist, and breaking it down again for their comprehension.


  48. Probably the last one to comment here or maybe not. Given that you are already at 162 or more comments. First things first. A huge fan of how and what you write. I occasionally visit the blog and may be left a comment on your birthday as it was mine too.

    Back to this post, I fail to understand the surprise from India parents upon reading Tiger moms article. Agreed she may have gone to the extremes but the rest of it is pretty much how every Indian kids grows up. And really the geographic location does not matter. But enough has been said about it, so I will shut up and instead just mention it to you that I think it was the most well balanced piece that I have read (of all what I have been reading in the last few days) on this whole saga. I loved it how you kept it all so honest. And I am just getting addicted to your blog

  49. Sorry, pressed Enter before finishing….I was saying,Its like candid camera, but real life dilemmas instead. In there, there is an episode in a toy shop where a little boy wanted to buy a barbie doll or something and wanted to wear a princess dress(all played out by actors)…It was so similar to your Kill ’em all post.
    You wont believe this, As I was watching this program right before this toy shop portion started, I was thinking how would it be if they take the camera to this kind of gender stereotyping situation like MM said and voila this thing comes up!!!!! It gave me goose bumps 🙂

  50. Completely off-topic (because really after 100+ comments, what is there is say on-topic?), our personal parenting philosophy revolves around two things;

    1. Teach them delayed gratification skills
    2. Teach them grit, perseverance, effort to learn – a really good article here referencing Carol Dweck’s work


    Everything else anyway, according to the Freakonomics guys seems to pretty much be decided before the child is born.

    As we evolve I will no doubt add to this list (two points on the Parenting Philosophy sounds sort of meager, even to me) but for now, this will have to do.


    PS: I remembered something 0n-topic. I do agree with you on one thing – parents may often be forced to adopt certain styles based on environment. At an unnamed social organization I used to volunteer with, the kids (very low on the socio-economic scale) came for art & music class on Sundays. It was wonderful to see them do some amazing art & music and they obviously loved the few hours they spent, but some corner of my well-trained upper-middle-class brain wondered if all those hours would not have been better spent drilling them in math & science and English and getting them to a more competitive level, given the fact that they attended grossly inadequate municipal schools.


    • @n!:

      a close friend used to teach music to a similar bunch of kids in chennai. they learnt to play the cello – an instrument still relatively not very well-known/popular in india. they’d come early in the morning twice a week, attend the class and go off to school.

      my friend says their dedication is unmatched by anyone she has ever seen – and she has taught in many countries, to many age groups.

      my point – yes, learning math/science would have helped more directly in a sense, but it would just be more of what they do anyway, learnt in the same manner, it would not be challenging any other part of their brain. from what my friend says, the kids calmed down a lot after six months of the music classes and i am willing to bet many more positive changes would have resulted.

      so more power to the likes of you and my friend!

      • My coworker mentioned the other day about music and math. She said that children good in math are usually good in music. Her kid was not so good in math, so her teacher suggested her to put her kid in music class. The teacher said that learning music notes and rhythm helps kids in math too. It did turn out true in her kid’s case. He became better in math and was able to understand the concepts much better. It may be that he became calmer after music classes or the music part of the brain and math part complement each other.

  51. Reading through comments with poor grammar is so ‘bleddy painful’ no??? On top of that they have the cheek to display utterly trollish behaviour! Doubly painful MM!

    • Harshika, i dont know you but seriously your comment touched me a lot! It is very hard to walk away from an abusive relationship, if that relationship is as close as your parents or siblings or spouses..but it is even harder to stay there and see it all through and then make peace with it too!only very very few can do that….and am just in awe!

      • Lolll, sweet heart thanks. Sure am enjoying all this attention from you and that too on my favourite blogger’s space! Trust me, it is infact easy to deal with pain and grief if you stop trying to take things in your hand and let God step in. Worked for me and maybe you can try it when you are going through tough times, although God forbid that you do. :)He has made us and so knows how much can we handle….no?

  52. Mad Momma! nothing to say abt your post, as lot, means LOT, has already been said. Still, cudn’t resist commenting.

    How you write so well and with so much emotion. You know the best part abt ur writing is…it heals, may be that’s why (as I got to know frm your response to a comment), that people want to confide in you and look up to you to solve their problems, or simply share and listen.
    You have a great power to connect, trust me, i don’t know u personally, but feel a sense of belonging-ness.
    Whatever you write, it’s not about right or wrong, it’s about the heart. It comes from within. and it’s amazing.

    Just can’t judge anything you write. Love to get immersed in the emotions of your words. Simply reading you is like BLISS!


    (Sorry, said nothing abt ur post though agreed completely with what u said. As i mentioned, my head stops working wen i read u, only heart beats.)

  53. and ya, how do you manage so much of blogging, reading responses, replying to them, working, managing home, kids, and all things sundry. Phew! Superwoman.

  54. Hi,
    First time here. I love your blog and for me it’s like letting a kid into a candy store. I love reading and your vocabulary and your way of writing is awesome and is fodder to my intellect seeking brain. Thanks a ton for that.

    On this particular topic I must agree with your point of view. I had this experience some years back. There was this kid in my neighborhood and his mom though being an educated person and a journalist at that, whacked the life out of her kid whenever he does not study or does a mischief. And it is not something normal. The wail of that kid will tug at our heart and she was actually behaving like a Hitler. After watching this for a long time some of us couldn’t stand the tyranny(we thought so) and took it upon ourselves to confront her and see some sense into her. But we came back defeated for she was rather abusive and went on to say she can treat her child however she pleases and it is none of our business. And sadly in India we cannot actually file a complaint for child abuse as in the West, for the final say are with parents. She was right in one thing that it was her kid and she is the one to decide on her parenting methods. But I still cannot fathom the necessity to take a rod to a child just to discipline him/her or to make them star students.

  55. read this in one of the comment sections of the article:

    Ken Jackson on January 14th, 2011 4:12 pm

    Curious, did you read the actual book the WSJ article was based on? Take a look at this article:

    The book is about a journey a mother goes on. From the article, “The book climaxes with a wrenching confrontation between Chua and her indomitable younger daughter, Lulu, who has resisted Tiger Parenting throughout her childhood. It’s she who ultimately makes Chua accept that she’s gone too far, and vow to change. And, as it turns out, letting Lulu make her own choices doesn’t prove to be the disaster that Chua fears.”

    The WSJ was doing its _typical_ race baiting. The real story is a nuanced story about cultural differences, and the story of one mother who happens to find a happy place in the middle.

    And lastly a quote from Chau, “The Journal basically strung together the most controversial sections of the book. And I had no idea they’d put that kind of a title on it. But the worst thing was, they didn’t even hint that the book is about a journey, and that the person at beginning of the book is different from the person at the end — that I get my comeuppance and retreat from this very strict Chinese parenting model”

    • Well then, you’ve taken away something from those who are frothing at the mouth over Chua. Bad girl Tash. Now they ‘re going to have to blame the WSJ instead of Chua which is no fun.

  56. Am back home and was fighting with my mom about the..

    “You choose Computer Sc, didn’t study medical… and then you ditch Engg in the middle… A failure your are… blah.. blah..”

    .. and then I read this post. Now I know why she is the way she is. No fighting with her anymore.

    Have I told you I love you and your blog, your writing??? 🙂

      • A hug?! My mom will probably faint thinking ‘What the hell happened to my son??!! 🙂 🙂

        Heck, I don’t even know my parent’s b’day.. and I doubt they know mine(They probably do, but I got no clue..). Not that we don’t love/care about each other.. We just don’t express it. I love my parents, I really do… but have never found the guts to say “I love you mom/dad” or some such… In the small town I came from, that is how it has been.. and will be till the next gen arrives 🙂

        Was talking to a friend about this the other day and she said “It was some kind of a culture shock for me when my local guardians came with a huge cake and gifts on my b’day!! :)”. It was the same for me when I went to the big city of Chennai for the first time.. 🙂

        #Off-topic I know.. just thought I’d share 🙂

        • not off topic at all. just very telling. You’re a young interesting warm guy. And this is something i wouldnt have associated with you.
          how about you do hug your mom, just to see her fall over with shock? 🙂 why can’t you be the change instead of waiting for the next generation?

          I’ll hunt in my old posts and drag out one for you. It is about how the OA used to be like you. He didnt believe in saying I love you. He never did say it to me – just walked up to me and asked me to marry him. Yes, thats how uncomfortable he was with expressing emotion. And then I began to teach him to say I love you to the Brat. One day I was bathing and I heard him tentatively say it to his son.. literally test the feeling of the words on his tongue.. i love you, i love you, i love you my son.
          i think that set him free. he can say it to a lot of people now and has begun to freely hug my parents too!

          • Took a lot of ‘getting used to’.. but, I do hug people now, say what I feel about them to a lot of people now…. new friends, kids at home, et al.

            But, you wouldn’t want me to risk my old mom a heart attack now would you?? 😀

            Kidding.. just that, with my parents.. a bit awkward it’ll be.. They will end up thinking.. “What is he smoking?!!” 😀

  57. Hi,

    I’m a regular lurker and am coming out to ask if it’s all right for me to post a link to this article online?

    There’s a lot here that I’d like to share with people I know.


  58. The main crux of Amy’s article in my opinion is that you need to push your kids to excellence. How you do it is your prerogative. She has hers and she has decided what she pushed her kids in.

    In India, I see parents blindly pushing kids into Maths/Science and into becoming Engineers/Doctors. Because honestly, until a few years ago, there were only so many professions you could really make a good living in. So I can see why they needed to push them so hard. And hell, I was pushed too.

    What surprises me is the total independence given to kids in US about doing what they want. All they end up wanting to do is play computer games, watch TV and hang out with friends.

    My husband is a professor in a University and he is appalled at the lack of effort kids put into learning a difficult subject like computer science. They can and will easily shift majors from the toughest to less tough to the easiest major within their department because they can.

    Why don’t we see that in India? Because, once we commit to something we have to do it. We have been brought up that way and thats how you push yourselves.

    If you were never pushed to do something you didn’t like when you were a kid or something that is difficult, how will you learn that skill? Or feel that you can do it.

    I am sure some kids are self-motivated and we hear about these kids in the article you mention written by the American mother. But I see such examples and think, try inspiring a kid to do something he doesn’t think he is capable of and see him through it.

    Thats what I think Amy Chua meant by the difference in Chinese mothers and Western mothers.

    How she does it may sound harsh, but hey, her kids are happy. So why are we complaining? and why are we aghast?

  59. @Sanjana: I wonder what gave you the impression that my parents are still hammering me!!? The last episode was 5 yrs ago as described in my original comment to MM. And how did you think I condone it…? This space belongs to MM and if i write more about my circumstances now, it wouldnt be proper. I appreciate the sense of outrage you feel on my behalf, but I also wish you could understand and accept the fact that I am good now. Life’s been good to me and really, there is nothing to be fixed any longer. My folks and any actions of their’s is not for me to judge. I am too busy living life to keep revisiting the past.Just because I got abused as a child, doesnt mean I keep wondering if i am some damaged adult- like I said, i escaped it’s lasting effects. Those memories dont have the power to hurt me anymore and that’s that. If you would like to talk to me more, please, lets email each other, it is more private and you can take me on as a ‘case study’ lolll. MM could probably fwd you my email add. Thanks so much for your kind words.:)

  60. Hi MM!

    Commenting after a very long time. I was shocked after reding Amy’s article but your article did bring in a lot of sense. I was a timid child, dreamer types and extremely unwilling to get out of my comfort zone. While my younger sis was a fiery go getter. And my mom a tiger mom if not to the same extent as Amy. I resented my mom being the tiger mom extremely, in fact my mom often used to ask us for feedback about what we liked in her and what we wished she’d change. And the only thing I have always asked of her is to be more gentle, in terms of speech, reactions and temperement. But that didnt really change her lol!!

    In some ways yes, I have issues with respect to the way I was brought up and I am still coming to terms with that. I have never questioned the love, never, but I just had difficulty accepting the way it was expressed. I have always had some issues with my mom over this aspect, but this piece that you have written as also everyone’s reactions have helped me see and appreciate her point of view.

    Though I am still at the cross roads in terms of a lot of things in life besides parenting and still in the transition phase, I really appreciate the perspective that your blog brings in. Thanks for blogging and sharing so much of your life and thoughts as well as providing a platform to share and learn from each others life 🙂

    • 🙂 you’re welcome Yuva
      you know, our parents are human. i have had many issues with my parents and over the years we’ve fought and mailed each other back and forth and made our final peace. i think i’m like your mother. i am not a tiger mom but I am a passionate mom. and i know i am the kind who will ask for feedback and not do anything about it! i think its a long road and its not easy, but we all have to walk down it to make our peace with our pasts.

  61. I am a mommy of a five year old. I was born in the US. I’ve been educated first in the US, then India, then the US. Now I’m back in India. Single mom now. Long stories…
    You have to raise your child the way you believe is right. Simple as that. It’s hard when people keep judging how you’re doing. I go with my gut most of the time because there is no right answer and no book with magic tricks.
    As for that NRI argument, I love my friends in the US but seriously, they don’t realise how patronising they’ve become about their motherland. And as for my friends in India, the affluent ones don’t realise how patronising they’ve become about their motherland. They’re more ready to say ‘Merry Xmas’ than ‘Happy Republic Day’ – and I’m referring to non-Christians. Even non-fiction Indian authors are patronising. It’s as if India is a petri dish that the pseudo accomplished world loves to rap about and make money off of. I guess everyone’s an ‘expert.’ Would rather that everyone did something good for this amazing country. There’s so much to be proud of here.
    I have so much to write out loud… you’ve got me almost inspired to start a blog too. 🙂 Thanks.

  62. My experience with American schooling with a son in high school and a daughter in middle school:

    Elementary School (KG – Grade 5) – Very easy. More on building a creative student than rote memorization. So may seem that the child lacks in Math and Reading skills compared to their peers in India

    Middle School ( Grades 6 thru 8) – Quite a jump from Elementary school. Still not very challenging from an academic view point. At this point kids fall into different math levels based on ability. Most Indian kids do quite well. Most American kids are involved heavily in sports. They are also expected to do chores at home, take up part time jobs, manage their allowances and have more responsibilities than an Indian kid. I think the Indian way or the American way works well if done properly. Our Indian kids focus on school and learn the other things later in life. The American kids blend everything equally starting from an early age.

    High School (Grades 9 thru 12) – Very rigorous. There is a basic requirement for all subjects to graduate high school. Other than that students are offered Advanced Placement classes which are college level classes in all subjects. The top students take all the AP classes in all subjects including Math, Language Arts, Sciences and History. This is critical because school ranking plays a big role in college admissions. This makes for a very well rounded student. Students are also required to take the SAT exams. Extra Curricular activities even if it is not stated as required, is very critical in college admissions – be it sports, music speech and debate, student body, student newspaper, academic decathalon’s etc.,. So most students will be spending about 10 – 20 hours a week in extra curricular activities, since mere participation is not sufficient, they have to excel in it. High school kids put in anywhere from 3 – 8 hours a day after school, every day. Very rigorous and tough 4 years of high school. I am very pleased with the quality of education here. Most kids do not go for tuitoring here and they truly learn the concepts. By far the toughest subject for my son is Honours English. He says he spends 50% of his time doing homework for English and the rest of the 50% goes to all other subjects combined and he is a a quick and good learner.

    So when Indian parents are complaining that the American Schools don’t provide the standards of Indian schools, I think they are parents of very young children and not gone thorugh all the way. They are comparing their 4 year old, with a four year old in India who has probably already had 2 years schooling by then. Kids in the US catch up quite well and do very well.

    Getting admitted to a good college is not that easy. And as someone mentioned it can cost $100 – 150K to get a bachelor’s degree. College is very expensive and very serious business for the parents and the children here as it is for parents in India.

    As always there are other options – to go to a state school or community college. India has other options for kids who don’t get into medicine or eng as well.

    So to get a great education and a career, you have to work hard and be focused (both parents and children) whether you are in India or US or any country in the world.

    In my experience I have learned that if you want your child to go to Harvard or Stanford or say IIT in India – you have to become a Harvard parent as soon as your child is born. Parents have to put in 200% if the child is putting in 100%. So when Amy Chua cays she wants her daughter to practice piano for 1.5 hours a day – that is what makes her get into say the city symphony by age 14 or 15 and that is what sets her apart from the the other Harvard applicants. I have realized that I don’t have it in me to be a Harvard parent:) To a large extent kids that excel correlate to the effort put in by the parents – their patience, persistence and sacrifice. I don’t have enough of all three. I do not agree with Amy Chua’s style – but I admire the parents who are willing to put in 200% for their children. I have taken the medium road more because that is what suits me, and not based on my children’s interests.

    Almost all high achieving kids that I have seen here are well balanced and happy kids. I am not talking about extreme parenting here. On the other hand kids who don’t perform to their individual potential, are often that way because the parents don’t set the realistic expectations and put in appropriate effort required for their kids to meet those goals.

    It is a proven fact that most modern inventions have originated in the West where the schools emphasize on creativity than rote memorization.

  63. Pingback: On tiger mothering « for whom the bell tolls

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