[UPDATED] Dear Sophia

Dear Sophia,

Like many people who may have written about this matter, I too have an issue with your response in defense of your mother, Chua. Yet, it is because it reminds me too much of myself and my own mother. Although, my mother is Hispanic, and I suppose she also is not as strict as your mother described herself to be in the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. My mother is strict in different areas. Maybe your mom would describe my mom as a non-Asian tiger mom, but maybe she wouldn’t. That’s besides the point. Those on the outside can’t help but call our parents abusive. I would never say my mother is abusive; yet, I am guilty of criticizing Chua for being abusive until I read your response and realized that I understood all too well. Well, some parts.

You start off your response with a witty paragraph, and I give you props for that. Obviously, you understand what humor is. At the same time, you obviously have not read your mother’s book. To this, I will refer you to “Advice on How Not to Misread the Tiger Mom” by Erin Ninh. He makes a good point that Chua takes things a step further. Although it would be easy to dismiss the Battle Hymn as a satirical read, Chua provides a lot of evidence as to why a Tiger Mother IS better and shows no gained wisdom from having treated you the way she has. IN fact, she capitalizes on your success. I suppose, all parents are guilty of this, but other parents don’t also stereotype groups of people while they are at it.

I can agree to the defense that you offer afterward, though, that no one really knows how your family truly acts, and that there are plenty of happy memories. When I begin to describe my parents to my friends, I find myself always talking about the negative things and quickly catching myself: “But, they’re not that bad.” I defend them after having made them out to be some of the strictest parents ever. There is always details not said at first, and I agree, Chua obviously didn’t give the full story, so it can prove difficult to judge how she actually is as a parent.

Yet, there are consequences to having been raised by very strict parents, which you avoid in your response. I will admit I am very passive person, submissive at times, due to my mother’s parenting. But, you make it seem as if you’re a perfect child. No, it isn’t an insult to you, it’s just that no one is perfect, and I have a feeling that if you talked more about your emotions instead of events in your life, it would have helped out your argument. This is why I’ll bring up your response to the card making incident.

“Everybody’s talking about the birthday cards we once made for you, which you rejected because they weren’t good enough… If I actually tried my best at something, you’d never throw it back in my face.”

This is the closest we get to your mental processes and how you feel, and I call bullshit. It may just be me, but when I read it, it sounded extremely scripted. Maybe it’s something your mom told you after the incident or something you began to tell yourself, but it just reminded me of something I would say in order to defend my mom. Like I said, I still wouldn’t admit my mom is abusive, but I will say her parenting has had an effect on my mentality, and one of those used to be putting any blame that could be assigned, on myself. It’s never my parent’s fault. I’m not sure, may be reading too into this, and I’m obviously not an expert. I’m just speaking from experience.

… And, it so happens that “Emotional Abuse and Neglect (psychological maltreatment): A Conceptual Framework” agrees with me. In Ninh’s work, she references this book and explains that events that happened in the Battle Hymn correlated to certain psychological maltreatment methods. It says that certain of Chua’s actions and words correlated to “misattributions to a child… who is perceived as deserving them.” In your response, you gear everything that could possibly be negative towards yourself, and never put the blame on your mother. It’s great for her; it means she raised you correctly as a tiger mother. Chua says herself, “When Chinese parenting succeeds, there’s nothing like it. But it doesn’t always succeed.” Thankfully, she did and you didn’t turn out like those automatons. Though, I will point out again that you avoided talking about experiences before college in your response, especially school wise. And saying that “Early on, I decided to be an easy child to raise,” is sort of fishy.

I suppose I can’t say your mother was abusive, as there is a lot I don’t know about your family.  I can agree to that. I suppose I also can’t say you have had, in turn, mental and emotional consequences. Although, there is a lot of support for it. But, I would recommend you reevaluate your sentiments- as long as you get you piano done first.

Sincerely,

Karen

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One Comment Add yours

  1. meiiumayo says:

    This is great! Stereotyping and making jokes about tiger moms doesn’t really help us and just leads to more psychological mistreatment. Thanks for making this post, I really enjoyed your perspective

    Like

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