'Tiger mother' -- this year's Toyota
Amy Chua, a.k.a. "the Tiger Mother" of "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" bestselling-book fame, has created quite a stir with her paean to tough-love parenting.
Well, more accurately, she's created a stir among America's moms. America's dads are somewhat more focused on Da Bears vs. The Pack -- the ghosts of Halas and Lombardi, Ditka and Nitschke, and the present-day drama of Rodgers vs. Urlacher -- playing like there's no tomorrow on frozen Soldier Field ...
But I digress.
Times columnist Meghan Daum weighed in on the contretemps this week. Her column attempts to look inside the author, to decipher the inner Chua.
Good for her, but here's what I think (in between thinking about Da Bears vs. The Pack, the ghosts of ... sorry, I digress again.)
Remember the late 1970s, when Americans became convinced that the Japanese knew everything about business, and especially carmaking? The gas crisis had cratered U.S. automakers' sales, while Japanese imports flew off the lots.
American cars were terrible; Japanese cars were great; we were doomed unless we learned and adopted the ways of Japan. GM even entered into a venture with Toyota in the Bay Area, as if it had forgotten how to make cars.
Then came the minivan, birthed by Chrysler, and the SUV, by Ford and GM and Chrysler, and everyone -- including the Japanese -- followed us.
Hmm, maybe Americans knew something about carmaking after all.
Now it's China, and parenting, apparently. Americans are seemingly obsessed with China.
There's no shortage of commentary. Just this week in The Times, there was Jonah Goldberg's Op-Ed column, and the editorial board wrote about human rights issues in China.
It's everywhere: Is China overtaking us? Did you see that it has a stealth fighter? Notice how well the Chinese kids do academically?
Chua's book plays into this mood perfectly. It's a handbook for success, some say, like Sun Tzu's "The Art of War." It's terrible what she's done to her daughters, other say. (OK, the moms are saying that. The dads are saying, "I'll take The Pack and three points.")
I say: Calm down, moms of America. Americans have been raising kids for more than 200 years. America's kids have grown up to do quite well, thank you. And I suspect that, Chinese-style parenting tips or not, that's not going to end.
Oh. And I also say Da Bears will win, though I'm not sure about giving three points.
-- Paul Whitefield
Photo: Amy Chua at the 2007 Texas Book Festival in Austin. Credit: Associated Press / Larry D. Moore