Study examines differences between Asian American and White moms


As Am News:

A new study goes beyond Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother to examine the differences between Asian American and European American parenting (photo by Emran Kassim).

The study by Stanford researchers Alyssa Fu and Hazel Markus explores how those differences impact the mother daughter relationship and the mother’s ability to motivate her child.

Asian American children are encouraged to be dependent on their mother and mother’s are more directly involved in their children’s education, according to Fu.

On the other hand, independence is emphasized more in European American culture. Children are encouraged to see themselves as separate from their moms and because of that researchers say their moms are less easily able to motivate their children academically.

The authors also found Asian American children feel more pressure from their moms but that pressure didn’t decrease the support they felt their mothers gave them.

It was just the opposite for European American children. The more pressure they felt from their mom, the less support they felt. Any pressures is perceived as negative by these children and are more likely to assert their independence.

When thinking about their moms, Asian American children are more likely to want to complete a task even after failure. European Americans are more motivated when thinking about themselves.

The study is published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, the official journal of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP)

What is your experience with this? Would the results had been difference if they disaggregated data from the different Asian American subgroups? Share your thoughts. We’d love to hear them.

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​The Tiger Mom’s Guide to Ignoring the Tiger Mom


​The Tiger Mom's Guide to Ignoring the Tiger Mom

It’s time to get upset about Amy “Tiger Mother” Chua again. Or is it? “I don’t want to be controversial,” the now-famous Yale Law professor told the New York Times Magazine in a profile published this past weekend. “I just want to be liked.”

It was her second straight Sunday in the Times, with her Yale Law-professor husband, Jed Rubenfeld, as the couple does advance publicity for their new book, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America, which is scheduled for release tomorrow. A week before, Chua and Rubenfeld had taken over the front of the paper’s Sunday Review section to explain the book’s not-at-all-controversy-seeking thesis: “[C]ertain ethnic, religious and national-origin groups are doing strikingly better than Americans overall,” because those groups “share three traits that, together, propel success.”

Those three traits, in the authors’ formulation, are: a sense of superiority as a group, leading members to rise above the ordinary; a sense of individual insecurity, driving them to work harder; and the ability to control their impulses.

The apparent contradictions—superior but inferior, insecure but secure—are what keep these groups from settling for the flabby dominant American culture of wanting happiness and self-esteem.

It is an easy thesis to misunderstand. The casual or ungenerous reader might think that Chua and Rubenfeld, by focusing on unequal achievement between different ethnic groups, are poking the hot-button issue of racism, the way Chua’s previous book, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, poked the hot-button issue of parental discipline (in ethnically charged terms).

But that book was misunderstood, too, Chua told the Times Magazine:

“It was supposed to be a kind of tongue-in-cheek book,” Chua interjected. At 51, she has a petite frame and a tendency to gesticulate. “The stuff I had to address was so . . . degrading. It was like, ‘Did you burn the stuffed animals?’ ” She seemed incredulous at the memory of it. “That was irony. That was irony!”

Ironies or inconsistencies abound. The Chinese edition of Chua’s book about the superiority of Chinese-style parenting was titled “Being a Mom in America.” It was almost as if Chua’s message were being differently emphasized to fit the prejudices of different audiences. The American rollout, of course, had been that Wall Street Journal excerpt under the headline “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior“:

The excerpt and the headline were misleading. People needed to know that the book wasn’t a manifesto, and it wasn’t a parenting manual, either. Couldn’t they see her narrator was unreliable? Couldn’t they see how the book was meant to be funny?

About that unreliable narrator… As presented so far in prepublication, The Triple Package is scrupulously not saying what it might appear to be saying. Although Chua and Rubenfeld in the Sunday Review did dismiss “taboo” and “willful blindness to facts,” in the classic tones of popular-academic race-baiting, they insist that they are talking about cultural differences only. Superior groups can and do lose their superiority from generation to generation.

Here is a fairly rigorous expert breakdown of what’s wrong with writing a book about the differential success rates of different groups in America:

These facts don’t make some groups “better” than others, and material success cannot be equated with a well-lived life….The most comforting explanation of these facts is that they are mere artifacts of class—rich parents passing on advantages to their children — or of immigrants arriving in this country with high skill and education levels….

Most fundamentally, groups rise and fall over time. The fortunes of WASP elites have been declining for decades. In 1960, second-generation Greek-Americans reportedly had the second-highest income of any census-tracked group. Group success in America often tends to dissipate after two generations…. The fact that groups rise and fall this way punctures the whole idea of “model minorities”….

We know that group superiority claims are specious and dangerous….Needless to say, high-achieving groups don’t instill these qualities in all their members….Even when it functions relatively benignly as an engine of success, the combination of these three traits can still be imprisoning—precisely because of the kind of success it tends to promote. Individuals striving for material success can easily become too focused on prestige and money, too concerned with external measures of their own worth…

Culture is never all-determining. Individuals can defy the most dominant culture and write their own scripts….[I]t would be ridiculous to suggest that the lack of an effective group superiority complex was the cause of disproportionate African-American poverty. The true causes barely require repeating: They include slavery, systematic discrimination, schools that fail to teach, employers who won’t promote, single motherhood and the fact that roughly a third of young black men in this country are in jail, awaiting trial or on probation or parole….

Of course a person born with the proverbial silver spoon can grow up to be wealthy without hard work, insecurity or discipline (although to the extent a group passes on its wealth that way, it’s likely to be headed for decline). In a society with increasing class rigidity, parental wealth obviously contributes to the success of the next generation.

That merciless critique is Chua and Rubenfeld’s own self-caveats, collected from their Sunday Review piece. If you do the algebraic cancellations that they are inviting you to do, what’s left is basically an affirmation of the concept of “cultural capital,” followed by a denial of the concept of cultural capital, via a shapeless exhortation to try to teach children “grit.” Whether the professors mean to be maddening or not, they’ve made a pretty good case that they’re not worth getting mad about.

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Cross-Cultural Parenting in Japan: Differences in Affection

Here’s an interesting parenting/editorial article that ran in Huffington Post, written by environmental psychologist Sherilyn Siy, a woman of Chinese heritage with an American husband, raising two children in Japan. In it, she makes observations on the levels of affection shown towards children by parents in various cultures…

[Japanese parents] tend to raise their children to be dependent on them and the group. This manifests more clearly in how they discipline their children. It is not not unheard of to lock children out of the house as they cry and are made to realize how much they need their parents. Children are also socialized to think about how their behavior affects their parents and other people. When they misbehave, you could hear Japanese parents complain, “You make me feel bad. You make me ashamed.” When I did something my parents didn’t approve of, my mom’s favorite line (which is also common here in Japan) was: “What will other people think? What will other people say?”

The upside to child-rearing in Japan is that you raise children who are very conscious of group membership and belonging and behaving in ways that does not upset the group. It is what makes Japanese society so orderly, peaceful, and harmonious. On the other hand, kids in Japan sometimes grow up unsure of themselves and relying too much on what others in the group think than coming up with their own ideas and opinions. This is part of the reason people have an impression that Japanese are often shy and quiet. A friend noted that my daughter, compared to Japanese kids her age, seems more passionate, vibrant and spirited…

My husband and I are both foreigners in Japan, and even the cultures we were raised in are so different: American and Chinese. This has given me a chance to see childrearing from so many different perspectives. What I have come to understand is that if you want insight into childrearing you need to look at the culture these kids will grow up in. Japanese is more group-orientated where the individual is less important than the group. Western, on the other hand, prizes the individual. It would be a narrow view to believe that one is better than the other. With our family, we choose to take what works for us, with the earnest hope that it will help our kids thrive in an increasingly globalized world.

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Cross-Cultural Parenting in Japan: Differences in Affection