Superior Chinese Mothers, Frustrated Kids | NBC Southern California

Superior Chinese Mothers, Frustrated Kids

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    Are Chinese mothers superior? How do they raise kids who are high academic achievers? A new book by Amy Chua says it's because parents are strict, and push their kids hard to succeed, sometimes through tough words and punishments.

    This is causing a whole lot of heated exchanges about what's the best way to raise kids.

    "In Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," Chua talks about her efforts to parent her kids the Chinese way. Academic excellence, a must, and they had to play either the violin or the piano.

    "Here are some things that my daughters, Sophia and Luisa, were never allowed to do: attend a sleepover, have a play date, watch TV or play computer games," Chua said.

    The Wall Street Journal article excerpted from her book, titled "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior," provoked hundreds of thousands of online comments and tweets.

    "I remember I got three B's in 5th grade. I didn't show it to them for like five months or something," said UCLA student Eric Kim.

    Eric Chang said his parents grounded him for his entire freshman year of high school because he wasn't getting good grades, "My parents always wanted me to be home by 6 o'clock, every day. And if it was daylight savings, I had to get home by 5 p.m."

    "I'm glad my parents were strict on me, cause I'm more grounded, I know my responsibilities," Ann Doan said.

    But there can sometimes be a dark side to those high expectations, says Kristina Wong, a performance artist whose one-woman show, "Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," explores why Asian-American, young women have high rates of depression and suicide.

    "What we see so prevalent in Asians in America is this tendency to hide anything that's going wrong. To hide it with trophies, to hide it with good grades, to hide it by not expressing it out loud," she said. "So one thing I explore in my show is these fictitious relationships we have with our parents, and the idea that we sometimes lie, and say, 'I'm fine, this horrible thing isn't happening. I'm fine,' and we lie because it's easier than breaking our parents' heart, and letting them know that we are human, and we are not perfect."

    While most students appreciated their upbringing, many said they would do it differently.

    "I think what's more important than not is instilling the values of why it's important and why these rules are necessary instead of just saying rules and just making a kid really frustrated," Doan said.

    "There are other aspects that parents can focus on, not just education and work all the time. Get to know their kids and what they're interested in and share a common bond there, they would build a stronger relationship," said UCLA senior Minh Le.