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Do Chinese mums and dads make better parents than their Western counterparts?

Richard Pollins | 13:37 UK time, Tuesday, 11 January 2011

This topic was discussed on 11th January 2011. Click here to listen to the programme.

Amy Chua, a professor from Yale University certainly thinks so. In an article published in the Wall Street Journal, she sets out why Chinese parents demand greater success from their off-spring and how they desire their kids to show success academically and musically.


Western mums on the otherhand are so scared of failure and their kids having low self-esteem that they allow mediocrity to be praised.

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As far as Amy Chua's concerned it all comes down to being a hard taskmaster.

Even when Western parents think they're being strict, they usually don't come close to being Chinese mothers. For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments 30 minutes every day. An hour at most. For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part. It's hours two and three that get tough.

Amy Chua doesn't just suggest this of Chinese mothers alone, extending this drive and desire to Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian mums too.

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The west has fewer good parents, Africa, and parts of Asia are all the only places left with wide spread upright moral up bringing.

But if Amy Chua thinks she speaks for all Asian-Americans then Betty Ming Liu on her blog is quick to challenge her:

Haven't we had enough of over-pressured, guilt-ridden Asian immigrant and Asian-American college students committing suicide and acting out??? Who gave her the right to define what it means to be 'real Chinese? Do all Chinese people have to behave like this to be authentic?

Dominic Lawson writing in The Independent suggests that whilst Amy Chua has a point, many Western mums don't judge success in the same way necessarily.

Most Western parents would say that all they want is for their children to "be happy": and if the little darlings are browbeaten in this way, they surely can't be enjoying themselves - and might grow up to hate their parents for forcing them to play the violin. Who knows? Happiness is the most ephemeral of phenomena and certainly not something which can be achieved at will.

What do you think? Is there a cultural difference in the way children are raised and if so does it matter?

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