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So What Does China Think of 'Tiger Mom' Amy Chua?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

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In America, Amy Chua's a "Tiger Mom." In China, she's something else entirely.

Americans are certainly riled up over Chua's parenting memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom, or at least they're riled over the Wall Street Journal's excerpt which fell under the headline, "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior." The response from many in the U.S. to Chua's strict methods of parenting has been that her "Chinese" approach is too severe. But China doesn't have quite the same take on the fierce mom.

For starters, in China, Chua isn't a "Tiger Mother", she's an "American Mom", or so says the Chinese title of her book--which can be translated to Being An American Mom (or Being a Mom in America, which is, of course, slightly different). Which makes sense--Chua is American, born and raised, the daughter of immigrant parents.

But by reframing her book, it seems that Chua's Asian publishers were hoping to quell controversy over her qualifications as a Tiger mom. According to the WSJ, there has already been debate in China over Chua as many point out that her Americanness means she "shouldn't be taken to represent 'Chinese' parents."

And as many people have noted on blogs and on the thousands of comments left on the articles relating to Chua, the style of parenting that she describes isn't as common in China today that it once might have been. Many people note that Chinese parents have been leaning towards a softer, more relaxed style of parenting for years now. And even more people have noted that all types of parenting--good, bad, strict, relaxed, etc.--have existed in all regions of the world since the dawn of parenting.

But you have to hand it to Chua's publishers--by marketing her as a "Tiger Mom" in America and as an "American Mom" in China, she certainly seems to have all her bases covered. Maybe the ambiguity just proves how ridiculous, and ultimately meaningless, parenting labels (and cultural stereotypes, for that matter) really are. [Reference]
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