Perché le madri cinesi sono superiori - GZ
By: GZ on Martedì 11 Gennaio 2011 00:55
(la storia più letta ovunque oggi sui giornali americani che scorro, ha ricevuto 2.100 commenti in poche ore sul Wall Street Journal, è l'articolo più commentato della storia del giornale)
^Perché le madri cinesi sono superiori#http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html?mod=WSJ_hp_editorsPicks_1#video%3DAC03BCF2-3298-4801-80E6-78A6EE76E57C%26articleTabs%3Darticle^ By AMY CHUA (online.wsj.com)
Un sacco di persone si chiedono come genitori cinesi sollevare tali bambini stereotipi di successo. Si chiedono che cosa questi fare i genitori per produrre sfreccia matematica tanti prodigi e musica, come ci si sente dentro la famiglia, e se potevano farlo anche tu. Ebbene, posso dire loro, perché l'ho fatto.
Sto utilizzando il termine "madre cinese" in senso lato. So che alcuni genitori coreani, indiani, tedeschi, irlandesi ed ebrei si qualificano come tali. Al contrario, so che alcuni madri di origine cinese, quasi sempre nati in Occidente, non sono "mamme cinesi", per scelta o altro. Sto utilizzando anche il termine "genitori occidentale" in sensolato, i genitori occidentali sono disponibili in tutte le varietà.
Quando si parla di genitori ed educazione, i cinesi sembrano produrre i bambini che mostrano eccellenza accademica, maestria musicale e successo professionale - o almeno così lo stereotipo. Anche quando i genitori occidentali pensano di essere rigorosi, di solito non si avvicinano ad essere "madri cinesi". Ad esempio, i miei amici occidentali che si considerano severi quando fanno praticare ai loro figli uno strumento 30 minuti ogni giorno. Un'ora al massimo. Per una madre cinese, la prima ora è la parte facile. E' arrivare a due ore e tre che si fa impegnativi.
Nonostante la nostra paura degli stereotipi culturali, ci sono tonnellate di studi che mostrano marcate differenze e quantificabile tra cinesi e occidentali quando si parla di genitori e figli. In uno studio di 50 madri occidentali americani e 48 madri cinesi immigrati, quasi il 70% delle madri occidentali affermano che "sottolineare il successo scolastico non è un bene per i bambini" o che "i genitori devono promuovere l'idea che l'apprendimento è divertente". Circa òp 0% delle madri cinesi pensavano allo stesso modo. Invece, la stragrande maggioranza delle madri cinese ha risposto che ritengono che i loro figli possono essere "i migliori" studenti, che "il successo accademico dei figli riflette il successo del ruolo di genitore", e che se i bambini non eccellono a scuola, c'è stato "un problema" e i genitori "non stavano facendo il loro lavoro." Altri studi indicano che, rispetto ai genitori occidentali, genitori cinesi spendono circa 10 volte più tempòo in attività di ogni giorno di ripetizione ed esercizio scolastico con i loro figli. Al contrario, i bambini occidentali sono più propensi a partecipare a gruppi sportivi.
I genitori cinesi capiscono che niente è divertente finché non si diventa bravi a farlo. Per diventare capaci di qualcosa si deve lavorare e i bambini da soli non vogliono lavorare, per questo che è cruciale ignorare le loro preferenze. Questo spesso richiede forza d'animo da parte dei genitori perché il bambino resiste e le cose sono sempre difficili all'inizio, che è dove i genitori occidentali tendono a rinunciare. Ma, se eseguita correttamente, la strategia cinese produce un circolo virtuoso. Tenace pratica, pratica e ancora pratica è fondamentale per eccellere in qualche cosa; la ripetizione ed esercizio costante è sottovalutata in America. Una volta che un bambino inizia ad eccellere in qualcosa, sia esso la matematica, pianoforte, pitching-balletto ottiene la lode, l'ammirazione e soddisfazione. Cresce la fiducia in se stesso e diventa divertimento anche un attività che non lo era. Questo a sua volta rende più facile per i genitori ottenere che il bambino lavori ancora di più.
I genitori cinesi possono usare sistemi che i genitori occidentali ormai non possono più usare. Una volta, quando ero giovane, forse più di una volta, quando ero estremamente irrispettoso verso mia madre, mio padre in collera mi ha chiamato "immondizia" nel nostro dialetto nativo Hokkien. Ha funzionato molto bene. Mi sentivo malissimo e profondamente vergognarsi di quello che avevo fatto. Ma non ha danneggiato la mia autostima o qualcosa di simile. Sapevo lo stesso che mi considerava molto capace. Io in realtà non credo di essermi sentito stato inutile o come un pezzo di spazzatura.
^leggi o traduci il resto qui#http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html?mod=WSJ_hp_editorsPicks_1#video%3DAC03BCF2-3298-4801-80E6-78A6EE76E57C%26articleTabs%3Darticle^
As an adult, I once did the same thing to Sophia, calling her garbage in English when she acted extremely disrespectfully toward me. When I mentioned that I had done this at a dinner party, I was immediately ostracized. One guest named Marcy got so upset she broke down in tears and had to leave early. My friend Susan, the host, tried to rehabilitate me with the remaining guests.
The fact is that Chinese parents can do things that would seem unimaginable—even legally actionable—to Westerners. Chinese mothers can say to their daughters, "Hey fatty—lose some weight." By contrast, Western parents have to tiptoe around the issue, talking in terms of "health" and never ever mentioning the f-word, and their kids still end up in therapy for eating disorders and negative self-image. (I also once heard a Western father toast his adult daughter by calling her "beautiful and incredibly competent." She later told me that made her feel like garbage.)
Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight As. Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best. Chinese parents can say, "You're lazy. All your classmates are getting ahead of you." By contrast, Western parents have to struggle with their own conflicted feelings about achievement, and try to persuade themselves that they're not disappointed about how their kids turned out.
I've thought long and hard about how Chinese parents can get away with what they do. I think there are three big differences between the Chinese and Western parental mind-sets.
Newborn Amy Chua in her mother's arms, a year after her parents arrived in the U.S.
Amy Chua will answer readers' questions Thursday on Review's new blog, Ideas Market.
Write to: IdeasMarket@wsj.com.
.First, I've noticed that Western parents are extremely anxious about their children's self-esteem. They worry about how their children will feel if they fail at something, and they constantly try to reassure their children about how good they are notwithstanding a mediocre performance on a test or at a recital. In other words, Western parents are concerned about their children's psyches. Chinese parents aren't. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.
For example, if a child comes home with an A-minus on a test, a Western parent will most likely praise the child. The Chinese mother will gasp in horror and ask what went wrong. If the child comes home with a B on the test, some Western parents will still praise the child. Other Western parents will sit their child down and express disapproval, but they will be careful not to make their child feel inadequate or insecure, and they will not call their child "stupid," "worthless" or "a disgrace." Privately, the Western parents may worry that their child does not test well or have aptitude in the subject or that there is something wrong with the curriculum and possibly the whole school. If the child's grades do not improve, they may eventually schedule a meeting with the school principal to challenge the way the subject is being taught or to call into question the teacher's credentials.
If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A.
Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn't get them, the Chinese parent assumes it's because the child didn't work hard enough. That's why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child. The Chinese parent believes that their child will be strong enough to take the shaming and to improve from it. (And when Chinese kids do excel, there is plenty of ego-inflating parental praise lavished in the privacy of the home.)
View Full Image
Sophia playing at Carnegie Hall in 2007.
.Second, Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything. The reason for this is a little unclear, but it's probably a combination of Confucian filial piety and the fact that the parents have sacrificed and done so much for their children. (And it's true that Chinese mothers get in the trenches, putting in long grueling hours personally tutoring, training, interrogating and spying on their kids.) Anyway, the understanding is that Chinese children must spend their lives repaying their parents by obeying them and making them proud.
By contrast, I don't think most Westerners have the same view of children being permanently indebted to their parents. My husband, Jed, actually has the opposite view. "Children don't choose their parents," he once said to me. "They don't even choose to be born. It's parents who foist life on their kids, so it's the parents' responsibility to provide for them. Kids don't owe their parents anything. Their duty will be to their own kids." This strikes me as a terrible deal for the Western parent.
Third, Chinese parents believe that they know what is best for their children and therefore override all of their children's own desires and preferences. That's why Chinese daughters can't have boyfriends in high school and why Chinese kids can't go to sleepaway camp. It's also why no Chinese kid would ever dare say to their mother, "I got a part in the school play! I'm Villager Number Six. I'll have to stay after school for rehearsal every day from 3:00 to 7:00, and I'll also need a ride on weekends." God help any Chinese kid who tried that one.
Don't get me wrong: It's not that Chinese parents don't care about their children. Just the opposite. They would give up anything for their children. It's just an entirely different parenting model.
In China, Not All Practice Tough Love
The Juggle: Are U.S. Parents Too Soft?
.Here's a story in favor of coercion, Chinese-style. Lulu was about 7, still playing two instruments, and working on a piano piece called "The Little White Donkey" by the French composer Jacques Ibert. The piece is really cute—you can just imagine a little donkey ambling along a country road with its master—but it's also incredibly difficult for young players because the two hands have to keep schizophrenically different rhythms.
Lulu couldn't do it. We worked on it nonstop for a week, drilling each of her hands separately, over and over. But whenever we tried putting the hands together, one always morphed into the other, and everything fell apart. Finally, the day before her lesson, Lulu announced in exasperation that she was giving up and stomped off.
"Get back to the piano now," I ordered.
"You can't make me."
"Oh yes, I can."
Back at the piano, Lulu made me pay. She punched, thrashed and kicked. She grabbed the music score and tore it to shreds. I taped the score back together and encased it in a plastic shield so that it could never be destroyed again. Then I hauled Lulu's dollhouse to the car and told her I'd donate it to the Salvation Army piece by piece if she didn't have "The Little White Donkey" perfect by the next day. When Lulu said, "I thought you were going to the Salvation Army, why are you still here?" I threatened her with no lunch, no dinner, no Christmas or Hanukkah presents, no birthday parties for two, three, four years. When she still kept playing it wrong, I told her she was purposely working herself into a frenzy because she was secretly afraid she couldn't do it. I told her to stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic.
Jed took me aside. He told me to stop insulting Lulu—which I wasn't even doing, I was just motivating her—and that he didn't think threatening Lulu was helpful. Also, he said, maybe Lulu really just couldn't do the technique—perhaps she didn't have the coordination yet—had I considered that possibility?
"You just don't believe in her," I accused.
"That's ridi *** us," Jed said scornfully. "Of course I do."
"Sophia could play the piece when she was this age."
"But Lulu and Sophia are different people," Jed pointed out.
"Oh no, not this," I said, rolling my eyes. "Everyone is special in their special own way," I mimicked sarcastically. "Even losers are special in their own special way. Well don't worry, you don't have to lift a finger. I'm willing to put in as long as it takes, and I'm happy to be the one hated. And you can be the one they adore because you make them pancakes and take them to Yankees games."
Ideas Market Blog
What's new and hot in the world of ideas, brought to you by Review.
A Prison for Parents?
Those Tough Chinese Moms
.I rolled up my sleeves and went back to Lulu. I used every weapon and tactic I could think of. We worked right through dinner into the night, and I wouldn't let Lulu get up, not for water, not even to go to the bathroom. The house became a war zone, and I lost my voice yelling, but still there seemed to be only negative progress, and even I began to have doubts.
Then, out of the blue, Lulu did it. Her hands suddenly came together—her right and left hands each doing their own imperturbable thing—just like that.
Lulu realized it the same time I did. I held my breath. She tried it tentatively again. Then she played it more confidently and faster, and still the rhythm held. A moment later, she was beaming.
"Mommy, look—it's easy!" After that, she wanted to play the piece over and over and wouldn't leave the piano. That night, she came to sleep in my bed, and we snuggled and hugged, cracking each other up. When she performed "The Little White Donkey" at a recital a few weeks later, parents came up to me and said, "What a perfect piece for Lulu—it's so spunky and so her."
Journal Communitydiscuss..“ I am in disbelief after reading this article.
Even Jed gave me credit for that one. Western parents worry a lot about their children's self-esteem. But as a parent, one of the worst things you can do for your child's self-esteem is to let them give up. On the flip side, there's nothing better for building confidence than learning you can do something you thought you couldn't.
There are all these new books out there portraying Asian mothers as scheming, callous, overdriven people indifferent to their kids' true interests. For their part, many Chinese secretly believe that they care more about their children and are willing to sacrifice much more for them than Westerners, who seem perfectly content to let their children turn out badly. I think it's a misunderstanding on both sides. All decent parents want to do what's best for their children. The Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that.
Western parents try to respect their children's individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions, supporting their choices, and providing positive reinforcement and a nurturing environment. By contrast, the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they're capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.
—Amy Chua is a professor at Yale Law School and author of "Day of Empire" and "World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability." This essay is excerpted from "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" by Amy Chua, to be published Tuesday by the Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Copyright © 2011 by Amy Chua.