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Parenting styles: Eastern and Western differences

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 11 2011 6:31 p.m. MST

There's a reason Asian kids stereotypically outperform their Western peers, says Yale Law Professor Amy Chua in a recent essay for the Wall Street Journal.

"Despite our squeamishness about cultural stereotypes," she writes, there's a marked difference between Eastern and Western parenting styles. For example, a Chinese mother would never allow her children to watch TV, get any grade less than an A or "not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama." While Western parents are worrying about their children's self esteem, Chinese parents are forcing them to work harder, practice longer and study more.

"What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it," she writes. "To good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences."

The article, an excerpt from Chua's new book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," which hit shelves Tuesday, has kicked up quite a debate on the Internet.

In response to the article, Rachel Emma Silverman wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal defending Laissez-Faire Parenting. As a child she and her siblings were allowed to watch TV until "we were blue in the face," she says. They still got top grades and attended Harvard and Yale. In another article titled, "In China, Not All Practice Tough Love," the Wall Street Journal's Victoria Ruan outlines a quiet movement among Chinese parents toward a more nurturing parenting style. She points out several best-selling parenting books written by Asian authors that advocate "listening to kids and developing their potential without forcing them to obey authority."

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