An article at The Wall Street Journal is causing quite an online uproar. In “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” Amy Chua, a professor at Yale Law School, details how strict she was with her daughters, and contrasts it with the American (i.e., white) way that today’s parents cajole and pamper their kids, to the children’s own detriment. She’s clear to say that American parenting styles are just “different,” but the data show that whites are definitely falling behind Asians in terms of academic and economic success.
Chua’s arguments certainly have flaws. For example, her version of “better” seems to mean simply producing children who are academically and musically talented. She discounts sports, drama, and socialization, and makes no mention of spirituality. Many commenters pointed out the detriments of such a program, citing a lack of creativity and originality in art among people who focus solely on technics. Chua also plays into the successful Asian stereotype, not mentioning Asian gangs or the achievement levels of the general populace of her home country, and by presenting an image of all Chinese students as A students who are musical geniuses.
But the article does a great job of pointing out what incredibly low standards whites now have for their children, even among the middle classes. There are numerous reasons for these lowering of standards.
The rise of egalitarianism, coupled with the loss of any true aristocracy in Western countries, has brought everyone down to the lowest (or at least middle) level. Very few whites with gifted children can afford to send them to specialized boarding schools, and instead rely on “gifted” program in public schools, which have an academic rigor far below that of our ancestors. Just as blacks are ridiculed for “acting white,” white students are ridiculed at many schools for being nerds or for not devoting massive amounts of time to social activities and fashion. The Chinese, based on Chua’s description, effectively counter such forces by being excessively strict by today’s standards and insisting on their children’s success. She recounts how an American woman broke down in tears when Chua mentioned some of her techniques.
Chua also discusses how much time American children spend on sports (rather than music or academics). As such, it can be argued that the great success and stability of whites in America is very much a part of its downfall. Our people’s sports used to be tied into survival. Men had to be skilled warriors in fighting, fencing, and shooting for their own survival and that of their homeland, and to be considered a true man. American children today know only how to “play” sports, “fight fair,” and not be a “sore loser,” with no corresponding sense of honor or loyalty. In addition, the high standard of living in the West has allowed protection to be hired out, so that there is no longer any army that protects white interests.
Chua’s article is in some ways an exaltation of Traditional values, values that many in the West have lost. For example, she mentions how today’s parents get excited and proud when their child gets a bit part in a school play, bending over backward to drive the child around for a pursuit that, in the grand scheme of his life, will not do him much good. Another example: Rather than being direct about fatness, American mothers tend to tiptoe around the issue and use euphemisms, an approach that doesn’t work well given that “their kids still end up in therapy for eating disorders and negative self-image.”
Such flattery is the opposite of the attitude of the Spartan mother, who told her sons to come back with their shields or on them. This type of love also is not a “sublime” function of motherhood, since, as Evola points out, it is something shared with the instincts of various animals (Eros and the Mysteries of Love, p. 170). Chua mentions a Western adult woman, who was ashamed when her father toasted her as “beautiful and incredibly competent,” obviously feeling she did not live up to the distinction. This sentimentality is a sign of the degeneration of the ideals of white parents, who are capable of esteeming even the unworthy. Such an attitude ultimately has a negative impact on white children, since it encourages them to view mediocrity as acceptable.
In contrast to Western parents, who want learning to be “fun,” Chua notes a study that found “the vast majority of the Chinese mothers said that they believe their children can be ‘the best’ students, that ‘academic achievement reflects successful parenting,’ and that if children did not excel at school then there was ‘a problem’ and parents ‘were not doing their job.’” Whites certainly have the IQ to excel (and do so above many others), but the study reveals a deeper sense of family responsibility among the Chinese than whites. Although white parents may wonder to themselves what they did wrong when their children take drugs, act like spoiled brats, or are unsuccessful, family honor and shame are almost meaningless to whites today. I have heard white mothers say they don’t plan to bother with private schools or homeschooling, since “it’s no use” and “they’ll be exposed to everything through TV anyway.” Such an attitude is defeatist, and does not help children in the long run.
Most white children also could be “the best,” but it will take a change in parenting techniques, and a realization that, like the Chinese, the “child will be strong enough to take the shaming and to improve from it.” As Chua points out, worrying about harming a child’s self-esteem does not improve it; what does is helping them achieve more than they thought themselves capable of.