Questão 9

Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior 
A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such fantastically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do: 
 
*attend a sleepover; 
*have a playdate; 
*be in a school play; 
*complain about not being in a school play; 
*watch TV or play computer games; 
*choose their own extracurricular activities; 
*get any grade less than an “A”; 
*not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama; 
*play any instrument other than piano or violin; 
*not play the piano or violin. 
 
I’m using the term “Chinese mother” loosely. I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers, by choice or otherwise. I’m also using the term “Western parents” loosely. Western parents come in all varieties. 
Even when Western parents think they’re being strict, they usually don’t come close to being Chinese mothers. For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments 30 minutes every day. An hour at most. For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part. It’s hours two and three that get tough. 
What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences. This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up. But if done properly, the Chinese strategy produces a virtuous circle. Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America. Once a child starts to excel at something − 
whether it’s Math, piano, pitching or ballet − he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun. This in turn makes it easier for the parent to get the child to work even more. 
The fact is that Chinese parents can do things that would seem unimaginable to Westerners. Chinese mothers can say to their daughters, “Hey, fatty − lose 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. 
 
CHUA, Amy. In: The Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2011. (Amy Chua is a professor at the Yale Law School. This essay is excerpted from Battle Hymnof the Tiger Mother, by Amy Chua, to be published by the Penguin Press.) 
 
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