Peaceful Parenting

Navigating the push-pull relationship between parents and their children.

Mean Chinese Mom and Peaceful Parenting

Chua is a bully, just as her mother was a bully.

     Everywhere I turned this week I seemed to run into the Wall Street Journal article Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior by Amy Chua. Not only was it highlighted in several of my usual web haunts, but family, friends and colleagues were sending the article to me. Certainly this woman's experiences as both a child and mother were extremely different from Peaceful Parenting. Were some people sending me this article as a challenge? Could it be that this strict, achievement oriented, driven parenting style might actually be a hidden key to raising successful, well disciplined, and achieving children?

By now discussion, back lash and even threats made against this woman are as ubiquitous as the original article. From China to the UK, all across USA and places in between people are speaking out against and in support of Chua's position. Now it is Peaceful Parenting's turn.

Chua is a bully to her children, just as her mother was a bully to her. The difference between the playground school bully and these parents as bullies is the assumption that these parents have the best interest of their children in mind. At least that is the explanation that Chua is now expanding upon as more criticism of her parenting has been hurled against her. I think it's about helping your children be the best they can be -- which is usually better than they think! Chua explains in www.gawker.com/5732947/mean-chinese-mom-swears-she-is-nice-sometimes

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The Wall Street Journal article excerpted from her memoir does not tell the whole story, but given the text available, it certainly sounds like Chua is advocating for achievement and success at any cost. Luckily for Chua her mother's bullying did not cost them their mother-daughter relationship. However, it is too early to know if Chua's same relentless, demanding, and total control over her own children will damage or end their relationship at some future point.

How is Chua's behavior different from the name calling, belittling, threatening, coercive and cyber bullying that was blamed as the cause of several teenage suicides not so long ago? The assumption that the parent has the child's best interest at heart could be what saves their relationship and the children's lives. But is Chua's love, approval and acceptance of her children dependent upon their achievement and success and submission to her control? If so, she is a bully, dressed up to look like a parent who cares about her daughters. I submit she cares about herself, her own success, her parenting achievement, and it's measured by how well her daughters do.

All people are born with the psychological need for power, which includes success, achievement and being the best we can be. We are also born with the need for love, which includes love and allowing your daughter to nap and eat instead of spending six or more hours at the piano, for fun, which includes creativity and play, for freedom, which includes making choices that may not meet your parent's desire to learn violin, but might mean tennis, dance or juggling, and for safety and security. A parent's job is to help her children learn to successful meet all of these needs daily and responsibly. Chua, according to her own admission, is missing major aspect of what her children need to be emotionally happy, successful people.


I can't help but wonder where is the joy, where is the laughter, where is the fun and creativity in Chua's home? This Chinese mother may be superior in moving her daughter's toward academic achievement and success, but it seems as though they are all missing joy, peace, and love.

Nancy S. Buck, Ph.D. tackles the tough topics facing families today. She is a developmental and author of Peaceful Parenting and Why Do Kids Act That Way?

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