The hottest commentary of the year appeared in the Wall Street Journal: Why Chinese Mothers are Superior by Amy Chua. The story has 7,200 comments and counting, and every other outlet including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and everyone else, including tens of thousands of bloggers. The author’s name yields more than one million Google hits.
The thesis was simple. American moms coddle their kids and protect their self-esteem; Chinese mothers, in contrast, work their kids hard, accept nothing less then excellence, and help the kid accomplish real things so that self-esteem is rooted in reality. The response was beyond belief, with mobs of angry mothers claiming that the author was essentially advocating child abuse.
I’m not entering the fray on child-raising techniques. Rather I would like to draw attention to something that seems to be lost in this debate: the institutional context that has led to the American tendency to let the kids grow like weeds.
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