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Strict parenting author gets death threats

January 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
It's something all parents struggle with: How strict to be with their children.Now, a new book written by a self-described "tiger mother" talking about her strict methods is stirring up a major controversy.

The author is Amy Chua, and in her parenting book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" she explains that many Chinese parents raise their children as math whizzes and music prodigies because of what they don't allow them to do. On her list: attend a sleep over, have a playdate, be in a school play, watch TV or play computer games, and get any grade less than an A.

Excerpts of her book were printed in the Wall Street Journal and since then Chua has both sold books and received death threats.

Countless blogs have compared her to "Mommie Dearest," the memoir and exposé of actress Joan Crawford's alleged abusive relationship with her daughters.

One person wrote, "Parents like Amy Chua are the reason why Asian-Americans like me are in therapy."

Another said "This is, quite simply, child abuse."

But Chua says the Wall Street Journal's headline "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior," which has lead to more than 6,000 comments on the newspaper's website, was misleading. She defended herself on PBS

"It's about many of the strengths that I see in this approach, but it's also about my mistakes, it's making fun of myself," Chua said. "It is not a how-to book, it is a memoir. It's about my own journey and struggle and eventual transformation as a mother."

Parenting author Ayelet Waldman, who was once labeled a terrible mother herself for an article she wrote saying she loved her husband more than her four children, wrote a rebuttal to Chua over the weekend.

"I do agree that we have developed this overcoddled, overnurtured, over self-esteeming prototypical American kid," Waldman said. "Every parent has to figure out that balance themselves."

Chua says there are three big differences between the Chinese and Western parental mindsets.

She says Western parents are extremely anxious about their children's self esteem and Chinese parents are not.

Chinese parents, Chua says, believe their kids owe them everything and Western parents do not.

She also says Chinese parents believe they know what is best for their children and therefore override all of their children's own desires and preferences.