Amy Chua discusses her answer to this question in her article "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior". Chua's highest aspirations for her children are being the #1 student in all subjects that matter (this doesn’t include gym or drama), amazing musical performances and complete dedication in achieving these goals. Part of the dedication includes no play dates, sleepovers, TV or computer games.
She makes some interesting comparisons between Chinese and Western parenting which explain why so many Chinese children excel musically and academically. Although I appreciate musical and academic excellence, my fundamental view of the goals parenting is very different from Amy Chua's goals.
While I believe there is merit in doing well in school, this is not a focus of my parenting perhaps because …
• Some of the people I respect the least are extremely intelligent and use their intelligence to belittle and take advantage of other people.
• Someone very close to me attempted suicide after being unable to live up to his parents’ expectations.
• Although my parents did not push me, I pushed myself and did extremely well in school. I learned to give the teachers exactly what they wanted which sometimes meant holding my differing opinions to myself. Ultimately my focus on grades slowed me down from developing my own voice.
For my own children and what I teach in Priceless Parenting, the goal is to raise children who have a heart and find a way to use their passions and talents to improve the world. While my children happen to do well in school, I’m most proud of them being selected to represent the 6th graders at their school as Humanitarians.
I want to have a loving relationship with my children for the rest of my life. It’s up to them to decide how well they want to do in school and musically. I’ll love them regardless!
Is there a dark side to the relentless emphasis on academic excellence practiced by mothers like Chua? This article, “Asian Americans' Rising Suicide Rates -- Three Students Take their Lives”, describes some of the downsides.
What are your thoughts?