Tiger Mom Talks about Cultural Superiority

Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld

Dr. Amy Chua of Yale Law School is publishing a new (controversial) book this month–The Triple Package–and this time she co-authored it with her husband, who is also a Yale professor.

Even before the book has made it to the bookshelf, major news media like The Guardian has begun talking about how this book would be another controversial literature for the American society. With limited information on the book, CNN provided a brief review on the book.

As mentioned in the video, the three “factors” that Chua and her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, used to explain why some cultural groups in America are more superior than others are:

  • The sense of superiority: the innate feeling of exceptions (you better than others)
  • The sense of insecurity: the fear for failure (also, afraid to loss anything)
  • Impulse control: the ability to resist temptations (discipline, discipline, discipline)

Chua and her husband also identified eight cultural groups that are particularly successful in the U.S. at the moment: Indian, Chinese, Iranian, Lebanese, Nigerian and Cuban groups, along with Mormons and Jewish people.

Without sounding like I have a full understanding of Chua and Rubenfeld’s work, I have to admit that I have experienced these factors while growing up as a Chinese boy in Malaysia. Then, since moving to the States, these factors seemed to have recurred on a different level. As an international student, I can attest to these traits the Yale professors mentioned, as there were many instances when I found me and my Malaysian friends working harder than other students around.

Reproaching Chua’s Battle Hymn, I wrote an editorial last year for a Malaysia leisure magazine, discussing the difference in cultural values and parenting philosophies between Eastern and Western societies.


The article is available in Word PDF here.

My argument is that one’s choice of parenting style should match the society’s expectations of children. As I wrote in the editorial:

Unfortunately, there isn’t one perfect way to raise your child. Every family is unique and every child is special. We have seen exceptions whereby some Western folks were intense and highly pressured in their parenting styles, and some very relaxed, laid back Malaysian parents. We definitely shouldn’t overgeneralise the cultures.

Nonetheless, parents should at least try to exercise different childrearing styles to experiment for the best style that works for the child.  A balance of the Eastern and Western parenting styles would be the best of both worlds.

To parents out there: what are your take(s) on parenting and childrearing? Do you agree with Chua’s Tiger Mother method? What about the factors Chua and Rubenfeld enlisted for cultural superiority?

Share your comments here.

Image: theguardian.com

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