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Thread: Tiger Mom: Some cultural groups are superior

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    Default Tiger Mom: Some cultural groups are superior

    Tiger Mom: Some cultural groups are superior

    By Maureen Callahan
    January 4, 2014 | 3:17pm
    Modal Trigger
    "Tiger Mom" Amy Chua is known for claiming that Chinese women make the best mothers, but now she and her husband say that some groups are just plain better than others. Photo: ZUMAPRESS.com

    She’s doubling down.
    Amy Chua, the self-proclaimed “Tiger Mom” who, in 2011, published a book arguing that Chinese women are superior mothers — thus their offspring superior children — has even more to say.
    In “The Triple Package,” Chua and her husband, co-author Jed Rubenfeld, gather some specious stats and anecdotal evidence to argue that some groups are just superior to others and everyone else is contributing to the downfall of America.
    Unsurprisingly, the Chinese Chua and the Jewish Rubenfeld belong to two of the eight groups they deem exceptional. In no seeming order of importance, they are:

    • Jewish
    • Indian
    • Chinese
    • Iranian
    • Lebanese-Americans
    • Nigerians
    • Cuban exiles
    • Mormons

    These groups — “cultural,” mind you, never “ethnic” or “racial” or “religious” — all possess, in the authors’ estimation, three qualities that they’ve identified as guarantors of wealth and power: superiority, insecurity and impulse control.
    “That certain groups do much better in America than others — as measured by income, occupational status, test scores and so on — is difficult to talk about,” the authors write. “In large part, this is because the topic feels so racially charged.”
    And so begins their cat-and-mouse polemic, in which they claim they’re courageously agitating for a greater good: the revival of America itself as a “Triple Package Culture.” It’s a series of shock-arguments wrapped in self-help tropes, and it’s meant to do what racist arguments do: scare people.
    Chua, a law professor at Yale, became a media sensation in 2011, when The Wall Street Journal published an extract from her book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.” She herself is an American, raised in the Midwest, but she used her heritage and all the worst stereotypes of Chinese women — cold, rigid Dragon Ladies, hostile towards their own children — to criticize the Western way of parenting, which she also said would be the downfall of America.
    Modal TriggerChua made waves with “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” but she makes even more outrageous claims in her new book.

    Chua wrote about calling one of her two daughters “garbage” for being rude, dismissing a homemade birthday card as subpar (“I don’t want this — I want another one”), refusing to let her girls watch TV or participate in school plays or have sleepovers, of threatening to give away a beloved dollhouse if her daughter couldn’t master a complicated classical composition within days.
    Her book really can be reduced to a simple argument: Chinese mothers are better than those of any other race, and these parenting methods are going to result in the West’s big fear — the continued rise and ultimate supremacy of China. Chua’s book was a best-seller, so it’s little surprise she’s back with an even more incendiary thesis, one so well timed to deep economic anxiety, to the collective fear that the American middle class is about to disappear, for good, and the misguided belief that immigration reform will result in even less opportunity for Americans than there is now.
    She and Rubenfeld stoke those fears. “Although rarely mentioned in media reports,” they write, “the studies said to show the demise in upward mobility largely exclude immigrants and their children.”
    Modal TriggerChua with her husband and co-author Jed Rubenfeld pose with their two daughters.Photo: Peter Z. Mahakian

    Yet the authors do not mention whether these immigrants are low-wage workers who have a greater chance at upward mobility, and the Pew study they cite is from 2007 — one year before the global financial collapse, resulting in an American economy that may be structurally altered for decades to come.
    All of the groups profiled by Chua and Rubenfeld are done so only as American immigrants, with the exceptions of Mormons and Jews, who are superior to Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, atheists and Muslims — the latter group, it seems, too controversial to warrant a mention.
    On to the distinguishing factors that make these eight groups the best in America:
    1. A superiority complex

    Any group that collectively believes they are inherently better than any other, say the authors, has an advantage. They do not note that this is perhaps humanity’s oldest and ugliest flaw, the bottom-line cause of wars and genocide. In their estimation, it’s not nearly common enough in America, where “the Superiority Complex . . . is antithetical to mainstream liberal thinking . . . the stuff of racism, colonialism, imperialism, Nazism.” This way of thinking, they write, has been a big boon to Mormons and Jews, though they also fail to note that believing in the superiority of a belief system is the driving force behind almost all organized religion. (Except the Amish. The authors freely note that the Amish are losers for this very reason.)
    2. Insecurity

    Here are the authors sounding most like Malcolm Gladwell: Posit something, make a solid case for it, then immediately refute it with equal fervor. The result: Readers are so confused that they can only conclude that this book is so much smarter than they are.
    The authors are very impressed with their boldness in juxtaposing insecurity with superiority. “That insecurity should be a critical lever of success is another anathema, flouting the entire orthodoxy of contemporary popular and therapeutic psychology,” they write. In fact, insecurity has long been known as a prime motivator among actors, artists, CEOs, despots. “Imposter syndrome,” the term used to describe highly successful individuals who believe, deep down, they are frauds, was identified back in 1978.
    “Note that there’s a deep tension between insecurity and a superiority complex,” the authors continue. “It’s odd to think of people being simultaneously insecure but also convinced of their divine election or superiority.” Really? Just ask anyone who’s ever met a narcissist, or read a profile of A-Rod.
    3. Impulse Control

    Yet another hallmark of self-help, impulse control is considered to be a key factor in personal success — the ability to delay instant gratification in the service of a greater goal. But this isn’t really what the authors have in mind: “As we’ll use the term,” they write, “impulse control refers to the ability to resist temptation, especially the temptation to give up in the face of hardship or quit instead of persevering at a difficult task.”
    You know who’s bad at this? Americans not among their eight groups. “Because all three elements of the Triple Package run so counter to modern American culture, it makes sense that America’s successful groups are all outsiders in one way or another,” they write. “Paradoxically, in modern America, a group has an edge if it doesn’t buy into — or hasn’t yet bought into — mainstream, post-1960s, liberal American principles.”
    As curious as the groups that Chua and Rubenfeld elevate are the absence of ones they denigrate. Aside from the Amish (not big book-buyers), the only other group the authors take aim at are the Appalachian poor, noting, without irony, that “it’s far more socially acceptable today to insult and look down on ‘white trash’ than the poor of any other racial group.’”
    Modal TriggerEven though he lost the election to Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and his family somehow prove the superiority of Mormons.Photo: Getty Images

    As for why African-Americans don’t make the list, the authors believe that the Civil Rights Movement took away any hope for a superiority narrative, and so the black community is screwed — even as they cite Mitt Romney’s loss to Barack Obama as evidence of Mormon ascendancy.
    “In this paradoxical sense, equality isn’t fair to African-Americans,” they write. “Superiority is the one narrative that America has relentlessly denied or ground out of its black population.”
    Nigerian immigrants, they argue, are bolstered by the belief that they are better than other West Africans — much as the Lebanese believe, as descendants of Phoenicians, that they are superior, or that the Chinese believe that their 5,000-year-old civilization makes them superior. But feeling superior to other nations, races or religions is nothing more than that — a feeling.
    The authors have such dubious data — “getting a statistical fix on Mormon income and wealth is notoriously difficult”; “hard numbers, however, are surprisingly hard to come by” — that they undermine every assertion of so-called “cultural” supremacy.
    Modal TriggerChua and her co-author husband Jed Rubenfeld rely on flimsy evidence to make their argument in “The Triple Package.”

    The real story here — the less controversial one, the more interesting and possibly instructive one — is that historically, immigrant groups tend to experience upward mobility in America until the third generation, and then, for reasons unknown, tend to level off. It’s interesting, too, that the authors either dismiss or outright ignore the large swaths of immigrant groups who built up this country — the English, Irish, Italians, Germans, Eastern Europeans. They ignore two very basic explanations for the success of immigrant groups in America: Anyone who leaves their homeland for parts unknown, no matter how desperate, is, by definition, bold; America’s uniqueness as a nation founded by immigrants.
    Once we were a Triple Package nation, say the authors, but no more. We have been done in by our superiority complex, our poor, Western-style “self-esteem parenting” and lack of impulse control.
    The question they finally pose — Should America be a Triple Package country again? Can it? — is followed by a paragraph-long, yes-no-maybe answer that will give you whiplash.
    “The real promise of a Triple Package America,” they conclude, “is the promise of a day when there are no longer any successful groups in the United States — only successful individuals.”


    Today, the demographic predicted to have the greatest impact economically, politically and culturally, by the year 2042, are Hispanics. Just don’t tell the Mormons or the Jews.

    Tiger Mom: Some cultural groups are superior | New York Post

    Here is an article she wrote in 2011. Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior - WSJ.com

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    I read the book she wrote. I found it very interesting, her approach to how she raised her children - academic wise and socially. Looking back I wondered if they would feel they missed out, but I think in the end what she did for them paid off. I think her oldest is now in college. I wonder if the same method(s) were used, would other parents have similar results; i.e. school performance.

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    I chose not to raise my child as she did.
    My child grew up to be more well rounded with the same group of friends that he has had since kindergarten. Many sleep overs,many parties. Now they are all grown men with lovely families. Most of all they are happy. None were raised like this.
    I stand by my choice strongly. Joy has to be a big part of childhood,IMO.
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    Normally, I wouldn't make a comment like this, but she is hard to look at for such a high performer.

    By the way, it only took until the last 30 years for one of the world's oldest civilizations to get its act together. Not exactly something to brag about.
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    To me, this is very interesting because I'm an Indian raised in India but currently living in the United States. I was raised quite like she raised her children. Perhaps not as strict. I was allowed to watch TV and have sleepovers(not a lot though, the number is probably under 10). But my entire life and my mother's entire life revolved around me doing well in school. Not just good, but the best in my class. There was a lot of yelling and screaming even if I had the 3rd best grade in a class of 70 children. I was spanked and called unpleasant names if I was not concentrating during my study time. My successes were mostly never praised, but my failures were heavily dissed. I was constantly told I'd amount to nothing if I was not the best academically. And I always knew growing up that becoming either an engineer or a doctor were the only career paths my parents would approve of. But looking back, I don't feel my childhood lacked joy. Because it was the same one all my friends had. It was just normal to me. It didn't stop me from doing things I wasn't supposed to. I was not allowed to have a boyfriend(didn't stop me), I was not allowed to have alcohol(didn't stop me). Oddly enough, I wouldn't wish for a different childhood. But I don't know how I would raise my own children in the future.

    I feel it has to be harder for her kids though, because they would have clearly seen how different their lives were compared to their peers. But I'm sure they've found ways to getting around their mother's strict rules.
    Last edited by *Kat*; January 6th, 2014 at 12:10 AM. Reason: I can't spell

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    To me, this is very interesting because I'm an Indian raised in India but currently living in the United States. I was raised quite like she raised her children. Perhaps not as strict. I was allowed to watch TV and have sleepovers(not a lot though, the number is probably under 10).
    I have three Indian SIL's - two doctors and one engineer, ironically. All three raised in India, but two live in US and one in Germany. The parents of the SILs do not seem like Tiger parents. They are very laid back from everything I've seen. The SIL's, who are all second generation in their countries, are also laid back with their kids - not domineering Tiger mom types.

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    There was a time when having a child who became a doctor, lawyer, engineer, whatever was the ultimate goal for many parents no matter what their ethnic background. Now that there are so many more institutions of higher education and students attending them (lower entry standards and/or affirmative action?) these professionals are almost a dime a dozen, especially lawyers who often struggle to find employment. I think that many "tiger parents" suffer from an ingrained insecurity complex that they have to show the world and their community that they are high achievers worthy of respect and perhaps envy among their peers. There's nothing wrong with aiming high and it's certainly preferable to having kids who are lazy dropouts but there has to be a balance which many of these super pushy, ambitious parents fail to grasp.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MohandasKGanja View Post
    I have three Indian SIL's - two doctors and one engineer, ironically. All three raised in India, but two live in US and one in Germany. The parents of the SILs do not seem like Tiger parents. They are very laid back from everything I've seen. The SIL's, who are all second generation in their countries, are also laid back with their kids - not domineering Tiger mom types.
    I should mention that this strict parenting lasted probably till I was 13 or 14. I was still expected to perform very well in school, but at that point my mother no longer needed to tell me anything. It was so ingrained in my mind, that I set high standards for myself. My parents too would seem laid back if anyone met them now(or even back then. If I was spanked or yelled at for something, it would be forgotten by the next day). They did their job of drilling everything in by the time I was a teenager.

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    So are you a doctor, lawyer or engineer (or pharmacist LOL)
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    I know a Greek family where the father was a cobbler and the mother a functional illiterate. They were so poor that they were persuaded to give their third child away to a childless relative since they couldn't afford her. And yet they raised a doctor son and a lawyer daughter. It was their biggest dream in life, to have their kids amount to something.

    This lady sounds like a total tool. I hope her kids secretly resent her.
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    Not everyone is destined or capable of becoming a lawyer or a doctor or whatever more important than personal satisfaction and emotional well-being career that Ms Chua demands and these are the kids I feel the most sorry for, because even though their own personal gifts may be equally important in the world outside of Tiger Parenting they are destined to be forever harangued as a failure in the eyes of their family.
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    I can't believe anyone listens to what this bitch has to say. She sounds like a prime candidate for matricide.
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    I was just talking with my brother on the phone, and he is familiar with Chua's history. His recollection from reading about her that she wasn't a good enough student to be a doctor or an engineer. And when she got her law degree she couldn't make it as a lawyer. So, she ended up teaching law at the same school that her dad taught at. It's really not the kind of Horatio Alger story that you would expect from a Tiger Mom.
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    I am fascinated by cultural differences in how children are raised. My kids are 19 and 22 now so it's pretty much "too late" for me to do anything different, but I see good things in a variety of cultures that I wouldn't mind emulating if I were starting over raising kids. Not so much the academic stuff, but more of the social things.

    FWIW, my oldest daughter attended high school in the town next to ours (more affluent, better schools) and I got to know some of her Asian and Indian friends. They're extremely hard-working, and I admire that, but they don't see any happier or less happy than other kids I know. We are all still individuals when it comes down to it. One of the things I do respect is that a lot of immigrants move to that town and rent apartments or small condos because that's the only way they can get their kids into that school system. In most cases they could buy a big house a few towns over, but they put education first. I respect that.
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    I know plenty of Iranians, Jews, Cuban exiles and Mormons. All are different and I wouldn't say that any of them are necessarily more exceptional or more superior than any other group I know. Some are doctors, some are lawyers but most aren't. Most probably did get a good education, but I've found that most of my friends and family that are from more recent immigrant families (from anywhere) are really big on getting a good education. I think their families really saw that as part of the "American Dream".

    This lady is just annoying.
    Last edited by KrisNine; January 6th, 2014 at 11:15 AM.

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