Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior

這二天在Facebook上很熱門討論的一篇文章Why Chinese Mothers are Superior, 是由Amy Chua所寫 (她畢業於哈佛大學, 目前在耶魯法學院當教授, 老公Jed Rubenfeld也是耶魯法學院的教授, 有二個女兒).

這篇文章不論在西方白人圈或在東方華人圈都引起不少爭議, 最主要的原因, 我想是文化和價值觀的不同, 倒不見得是誰對誰錯, 誰好誰壞的事.

Amy Chua在文章裡開彰明義的說, 我家的女兒不准做以下十件事:

• attend a sleepover 不准在同學家過夜

• have a playdate 不准在同學家玩

• be in a school play 不准參加學校表演

• complain about not being in a school play 不可以抱怨為甚麼不可以留在學校玩

• watch TV or play computer games 不准看電視或玩電動

• choose their own extracurricular activities 不准自行選擇課外活動

• get any grade less than an A 每科至少得到A

• not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama 每科目都要得第一, 除了體育和戲劇之外

• play any instrument other than the piano or violin 只能學鋼琴或小提琴

• not play the piano or violin. 不能不學鋼琴或小提琴

她在文章中提到有關她逼著七歲的女兒練鋼琴, 有某一段很難, 女兒一直無法突破, 她恐嚇加威脅, 而且不准女兒起身休息或上廁所或喝杯水, 直到女兒突破瓶頸為止. 這中間連老公都看不下去而出面緩和被拒, 不知過了多少小時候, 突然間, 女兒開竅了,會彈那一段了, 後來那晚女兒還上她的床撒嬌一起睡覺. 

不管你同不同意她的做法, 但是, 最後她女兒因為自己突破瓶頸而得到的成就感, 並不是父母可以用錢買到的. 孩子沒有遠見, 個性上是比較容易因為當下的困難而輕言放棄 (其實很多大人也一樣沒有遠見, 容易放棄), 但是父母應該要相信孩子的能力, 而逼著孩子要堅持下去, 如果每一件事都讓孩子自己作主, 不見得是為孩子好喔.  

Amy認為西方父母太在乎孩子的自信心, 自主權, 不論孩子做的好或做的不好, 都只讚美而不敢罵, 就怕傷了孩子的自尊心, 這樣的缺點是教育出一群不知天高地厚, 自我為中心的孩子, 也不見得是好事吧.

但是我覺得東方父母太喜歡比較, 不但拿自己的孩子和別人的孩子比較, 自己孩子之間也要比, 可是每個孩子都有它們自己特質, 為甚麼不可以讓每個孩子都發展他們擅長的優點, 而得接受平頭式平等呢?  有的天生有音樂細胞, 有的有運動細胞, 有的有藝術細胞, 有的有語言天分, 有的很會念書考試, 做父母的應該是觀察每個孩子的天分和喜好, 針對她們的優勢下去發揚, 而父母的責任是和他們一起堅持下去 – Talent is Overrated, 每一項專才都需要至少花上一萬個小時的練習.

西方父母嚴厲的也不少, 只是比較少被拿出來討論, 像老公最近聽的Andre Agassi's Autobiography, 我剛聽完的Martha Stewart Biography, 書中都提到他們小時候父母對他們嚴格的家庭教育和他們的成就是有直接關係. 

阿格西在書中坦言, 他從小恨死打網球, 從三歲開始他爸爸就逼著他每天練球, 不但故意把球網拉高六英吋 (多15公分高), 還要練數千顆球才可以休息. 只有九年級教育程度的他, 直到他娶了同是網球選手的Steffi Graf之後, 才開始喜歡網球. 當然在這個成長過程中, 阿格西經歷過毒品的問題, 娶了布魯克雪德絲後又離婚, 對什麼事都沒安全感 – 但是這就是人生啊, 平穩順利, 沒風沒雨的, 不算好好活過吧.   

由一位在Martha Stewart有名前就認識她的一位男性友人兼鄰居篆筆所寫的傳記, 對瑪莎成長的過程, 父母的家庭教育都有詳細的介紹.  瑪莎的父親應該有OCD, 他對自己和家人都有很高的標準, 他對每件事有一定的要求和作法, 幾近完美且潔癖, 而且很喜歡競爭, 他對孩子常說的一句話: No matter what you do, do it well! 當今的成功大企業家, 哪個不是高標準, 掌控慾, 嚴謹 (例如Steve Jobs), 如果今天Martha是男生, 應該就沒有那麼酸的B-word了.

馬友友四歲開始學鋼琴和大提琴, Michael Phelps七歲開始學游泳, 盧彥勳六歲開始接觸網球, Michael Jordan, 前勞工部長趙小蘭 . . . 哪一位不是因為有嚴謹的家庭教育, 才有今日的成就? 要怎麼收成就怎麼栽! 當然不是每個父母都願意這樣付出或者對他們的孩子寄予厚望, 也不是每個孩子都經得起這樣的要求, 身為父母的該怎麼做沒有一個標準, 因為沒人在身為父母前上過How to be a parent這堂課, 但是不該把自己未完成的夢想加諸在孩子身上, 但也不該讓孩子太過自由, 太輕易放棄.


  1. Sometimes it’s a cop out when parents said they do not want to push their kids. Parenting requires so much sacrifice and devotion that I am not sure everyone is ready or capable of taking on such task. It is a job with little immediate gratification. Without reading “Outliers”, I would never have learned the amount of hard work being put in by Bill Gates prior to starting Microsoft, but I have seldom heard that mentioned in the press. Hard work is not really being appreciated or “glamorized” in today’s society and it’s just too bad.

  2. I totally agree. I think it’s easier for parents to said “I don’t want to push my kids. I want them to be happy, so I give them choice to do what make them happy”. But I think most kids would be happy just play games, watching TV, etc. Is it really good for kids?
    When I read successful people’s biography, one thing in common is hours of hard work that they put into whatever they are doing. But today, you only see mass media talked about their success, how much money they are making, not much mentioned about how did they get here.

  3. Why is the art of music required to endure the ill-informed antics of such inartistic imbeciles as Amy Chua? Her lust for fame as an old-fashioned stage mother of either a famous violinist (yet another mechanical Sarah Chang?) or a famous pianist (yet another mechanical Lang Lang?) shines through what she perceives as devotion to the cultivation of the cultural sensitivities of her two unfortunate daughters.
    Daughter Lulu at age 7 is unable to play compound rhythms from Jacques Ibert with both hands coordinated? Leonard Bernstein couldn’t conduct this at age 50! And he isn’t the only musician of achievement with this-or-that shortcoming. We all have our closets with doors that are not always fully opened.
    And why all this Chinese obsession unthinkingly dumped on violin and piano? What do the parents with such insistence know of violin and piano repertoire? Further, what do they know of the great body of literature for flute? For French horn? For organ? For trumpet? Usually, nothing!
    For pressure-driven (not professionally-driven!) parents like Amy Chua their children, with few exceptions, will remain little more than mechanical sidebars to the core of classical music as it’s practiced by musicians with a humanistic foundation.
    Professor Chua better be socking away a hefty psychoreserve fund in preparation for the care and feeding of her two little lambs once it becomes clear to them both just how empty and ill-defined with pseudo-thorough grounding their emphasis has been on so-called achievement.
    Read more about this widespread, continuing problem in Forbidden Childhood (N.Y., 1957) by Ruth Slenczynska.
    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

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