Economist vs. the Ferocious Tiger Mother

Amy Chua has been making news for her book defending her ultra demanding parenting style, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Economist and Reason contributor Bryan Caplan, author of his own nifty forthcoming book on parenting, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think, applies the ancient wisdom of cost-benefit analysis and economics and thinks it vanquishes the tiger mother.

The most important questions that Chua fails to ask herself, Caplan thinks, and which every parent should, before "doing something for the child" are:

1) Do I enjoy it?

2) Does my child enjoy it?

3) Are there any long-run benefits?

And using Chua's own evidence, Caplan finds her ferocious attempts to get her daughters to practice their instruments fail the test of economic, and parental, good sense.

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  • ||

    I was hoping this blog would be a safe harbor from the Tiger Mom claptrap.

  • Bingo||

    Is Sarah Palin a Tiger Mom? Do Tiger Moms support the NYC mosque? Has WikiLeaks exposed any Tiger Moms involved in the Cairo uprising?

  • Ice Nine||

    >>"Is Sarah Palin a Tiger Mom?"

    Guess not - she didn't exactly convince Bristol to keep her Levis on around Levi.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Ice Nine,

    Guess not - she didn't exactly convince Bristol to keep her Levis on around Levi.


    Nor was she concerned about letting Willow parade on camera with short shorts.... Hmmm.

  • ||

    :-)

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Bingo,

    Is Sarah Palin a Tiger Mom?


    Have you been living under a rock? She's a Grizzly Mom.

    Sheesh.

  • Mango Punch||

    Is Sarah Palin a Tiger Mom?


    She's a cougar mom.

  • Tracey Morgan||

    I like a good rub out with my insulin in the morning.

  • Brett L||

    This. If I cared any less, I'd be actively avoiding this story.

  • ||

    The book is total nonsense, and the media frenzy over it is even more nonsensical.

  • val||

    The book is not nonsense. Just taken way too far. It's just a knee jerk polar opposite reaction to the modern you-are-all-precious-and-special-in-your-own-way hippie bullcrap style of parenting. There is a much more effective middle ground, isnt there? Does it really matter if they play violin/pianno vs guitar/keyboard? Probably not. Should you raise your kids in an appropriate reward/punishment system? Probably yes.

  • yonemoto||

    I think the key is what age you let go and how you do it. My parents were pretty iron fisted, and tapered away until in high school I was physically living away from my parents. That actually gave me an edge up on my college peers, because I wasn't wasting precious studying time and years of waning mental agility exploring 'being independent'.

  • ||

    It is nonsense because it's taken to a ridiculous extreme. I'm about as against the warm fuzzy shit as anyone, but there's rational parenting and making-sure-my-kids-turn-out-insane parenting.

  • ||

    I agree with the middle ground statement, especially having experienced both the US and Asian systems first hand. My mother is a Japanese citizen, and I lived in Japan for five years, but I was educated in the States (and Switzerland) in private schools. Chua says Americans don't emphasize enough rote learning. Well, I can tell you that the excess rote learning in Asia leads to kids with zero creativity and no critical thinking skills. In fact, don't try to ask an Asian "why?" They don't teach "cause and effect" in Asia. OTOH, there is too much self esteem bullshit in the US. Kids are coddled and never allowed to grow up--thanks to the nanny state. The middle ground is actually more like the US forty years ago-- "Shut up kid, do your fuckin' homework and then go outside and play on your bikes without helmets." The benefit of my private school education in the US was that I was forced to study very hard--no coddling--you will take Calculus to graduate--Latin in middle school--but the Americans emphasize critical thinking and opinion formation. In private school however, one has to learn the facts (rote learning) to support her opinion. I don't think American public school is rigorous enough in teaching the facts. Asian schools only teache rote learning. Confucius said that "Knowledge without thinking is useless; thinking without knowledge is dangerous." The middle ground is the most effective.

  • Tim||

    Seconded.

  • ||

    I eagerly await the Tiger Moms: Cougar Pussy porn series.

  • cynical||

    It isn't safe from the Interplanetary Ninja Assassin Claptrap, so I don't know why you would think that.

  • ||

    That robot will die screaming!

  • BakedPenguin||

    SugarFree - considering some of the things you've inflicted on this blog, no one's going to give you a safe harbor from anything.

  • Bingo||

    I'm looking for how coverage of how Tiger Moms relate to the Cougar phenomenon.

  • Restoras||

    Amy Chua is a moron.

    Next.

  • rather||

    Why does a party of MYOB keep on printing articles on abortion, and parenting? Isn't the point of libertarianism is not to have an opinion on the behavior of others, nor to legislate it?

  • Pip||

    rather ponders politics,
    As daddy lies rotting,
    So much stench.

  • ||

    Haiku has rules, anonypussy.

  • Rather||

    Pip is slightly well, actually, he is special-don't pick on Boo Radley!

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Rather,

    Isn't the point of libertarianism is not to have an opinion on the behavior of others, nor to legislate it?


    I would rather cut my arm off, I would rather poke my eyes with a rusty pick, I would rather drive my van off a cliff than answer your question, Rather. And that's being libertarian.

  • 2 Rather or not to Rather that||

    OM, for someone who would Rather not reply, you gave a Rather detailed comment.
    Do you feel Rather foolish? Or, would you Rather forget your Rather silly reply and had truly Rather ignored me?

    Sincerely,
    Rather

  • ||

    Oh rather, why can't I quit you?

  • Rather||

    anonypussy, I love you

  • affenkopf||

    Having an opinion on the behavior of others ≠ wanting to legislate the behavior of others

    Also abortion is very different from parenting. Either a fetus is a human being with the protection that that entails or it is not. If it is abortion is a coercive action and is exactly one of the few areas libertarians want legislation to exist.

  • Rather||

    IMO, the fetus is a human being; after all no one gives birth to anything but a human but there is no denying that a pregnancy can infringe on the rights of the mother, and that is why I'm pro-choice.

    Libertarians want to have their cake, and eat it too when they offer political opinions on MYOB issues. If a libertarian has a personal opinion, it is just that; when a party takes a stance, it heads into the "legislate that behavior" territory-it always struck me as contradiction

  • ||

    What "party" is taking a stance here? And what is that stance?

  • ||

    Every libertarian has an opinion, its about whether someones opinion should become the law of the land (which libertarians do not support). Whatever ones opinion on correct parenting is, a libertarian will not support the idea of making it law, no matter how scientific or successful the parenting technique is shown to be.

    I do not like people smoking, I will never support smoking bans though. I do not like vegetarians, but would never want to ban their unhealthy eating practice etc. etc.

    Liberal, conservatives etc. have no problem with making their opinions the rule.

  • Rather||

    Not sure,"Either a fetus is a human being with the protection that that entails or it is not. If it is abortion is a coercive action and is exactly one of the few areas libertarians want legislation to exist."

    Obviously there is no consensus on the issue

  • ||

    You're right, there is no grand libertarian consensus on abortion, along with a bunch of other issues. Not sure why you'd expect one.

  • Rather||

    Either libertarians stand for less government or they stand for more government control on certain issues-it's inconsistent and slightly misogynistic with regards to pregnancy, and parenting; the former exclusive to females, the latter somewhat so.

  • Eric||

    Learn the difference between misogyny and disparate impact. You can put it on your to-do list between "drunkenly beg daddy to fuck me" and "blogwhore ineffectively on Reason".

  • ||

    Her dad is dead, Eric. Probably of shame for having a fat blogwhore as a daughter.

  • ||

    Do you believe everything you read on the internet?

  • Eric||

    @ Sugarfree: Rather doesn't know that!

  • ||

    But honest libertarians could easily have different thoughts about, say, whether a fetus qualifies as a human life. If one sincerely believes this to be the case, then it's not inconsistent at all to consider abortion a criminal offense.

    On the other hand, libertarians who take a more clinical/secular view of the fetus can sincerely fall on the side of allowing mothers to make their own choices.

    Two libertarians, two different worldviews, two different opinions on abortion, no inconsistency.

  • cynical||

    No, it's not to coerce the behavior of others except in cases where they initiate aggression.

  • ||

    Do tiger moms wear sexy kitty costumes?

  • Jeff P||

    I would count the raging success of so many chinese violin soloists as a potential long-term benefit, at least as realistic and the hundreds of thousands of American Idol wannabes.

  • Wind Rider||

    Pretty moronic, almost like she mistook Two and a Half Men as a docudrama, and dreamed of the beautiful Malibu beach house that would be hers for the taking once she made all of her kids successful jingle writers, totally oblivious to the likelihood she was grooming them to be part time backup musicians for some mediocre talent lounge singer at a Holiday Inn in Aimes, Iowa.

  • Ass Heaven||

    Amy Chua is the quintessential racist.

    YELLOW POWER!

  • Old Mexican||

    And using Chua's own evidence, Caplan finds her ferocious attempts to get her daughters to practice their instruments fail the test of economic, and parental, good sense.


    I have an even better question to posit!

    > Does anybody give a shit?

    It's HER children. Not yours. Not mine.

  • Polynikes||

    I'm with OM. First, both Ms. Chua and her daughters have stated some of the book is firmly tongue in cheek. Also, several interviews with the daughters have demonstrated they are happy, well adjusted people.

    It's not the way I would parent, and I find the vitriol being directed Ms. Chua's way to be judgemental and ridiculous.

  • yonemoto||

    I dunno, the steven colbert interview made her look like she was obsessively defensive about how other people thought of her. But then again, colbert does that to everyone.

  • Asian tattoo artist||

    Sorry Amy, you tiger now!!!

  • LC||

    Nicely done. That was my favorite ad EVER.

  • kf||

    "It's HER children. Not yours. Not mine."

    Seriously, why do people insist on prying into this family's private affairs. You'd think she wrote a book or something.

  • ||

    +1

  • Really?||

    Yeah, I mean, what the fuck? Just because you see a parent take a baseball bat across a child's knees does not mean you need to involve yourself. Don't even deign to say anything, Mr. Busybody! They aren't your kids!

  • Bingo||

    Love the ad for breast pumps on this page.

  • ||

    I just get an ad for a cupcake with Cherenkov blue frosting.

    I think it's supposed to make me loath cupcakes. Which would be good for me. Thank you, sidebar ads!

  • tarran||

    WTF!

    I get an ad for the Betty Ford Clinic!

  • ||

    HA-HA!

  • Brett L||

    Drink!

  • ||

    There's a reason to Amy Chua's method. She knows the decline of high achieving immigrant children usually occurs at the third generation, and it's not happening on her watch.

    Frankly I'm surprised at the ferocity of criticism aimed at her. The book is NOT a guide to parenting. It's a memoir on her experience of raising two daughters. And it ends with her giving up on one of them.

  • yonemoto||

    I'm a fifth generation immigrant, and I have to say the above sentiment is patently untrue. On the other hand, I am lolling around on the reason boards.

  • alan||

    Immigrant, ten or eleven generations back, from Isleños who settled St. Bernard's Parish in the 1700's. The Tiger Mom view of instrumental instruction always seemed odd from my perspective, as my dad blamed being the son of a Mariachi for his own childhood poverty which he escaped through joining the army. He knew how to play the guitar very efficiently himself but kept me away from them when I was a kid. As a teenager I bought one, and learned Randy Rhoads, Malmsteen and Satriani solos. I did put it away to get serious about college. So, not much harm done.

  • WasabiPeas||

    All children should learn music because musicians are models of temperance, self-control and drug-free living.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I have to agree. I'm second generation, and the slide is already obvious to all.

    Of course, I'm not Asian, so maybe that's a part of it.

  • ||

    She knows the decline of high achieving immigrant children usually occurs at the third generation, and it's not happening on her watch.

    That remains to be seen, no? Her kids may celebrate their liberation from a tyrannical domestic regime by turning into total slackers, subconsciously processing every decision by asking "Will Mom hate it? Good!"

  • omg||

    Or they could commit suicide, like a disproportionately high number of young Asian women do.

  • ||

    I almost did my master's thesis on why US born daughters of mothers who immigrated to the US from Asian countries rarely have children (like me.) After interviewing many Asian daughters, the almost pathological aversion to childbearing was rooted in the bad mother-daughter relationship. What is considered normal treatment of daughters in Asia is decidedly sexist and harsh by American standards, and the daughters judge their mothers by their culture's (US) standards. This leads to Asian girls' conflicts with gender identity (they wish they had been born boys) and leaves them with no desire to have kids (childbearing is a quintissential aspect of the female gender.) In other words, the girls just thought their mothers were bitches.

  • IceTrey||

    Tiger Mom might not be right but basing your parenting on what a child "enjoys" doesn't sound like a recipe for success either.

  • mr simple||

    Right because who would encourage their kids to find something they like and then try to be good at it? That might lead to enjoyment of life.

    I don't think he meant if they don't like to brush their teeth then they don't have to.

  • IceTrey||

    So if he doesn't enjoy reading don't teach him? If he doesn't enjoy math the hell with it? If he doesn't enjoy wiping his ass after he takes a shit that's ok? In your world every kid would be a professional video game player because they all enjoy that.

  • pmains||

    "Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world's greatest need." Fred Buechner

    I think that's what Caplan was saying. Either that, or he thinks your children should be professional video gamers.

  • zoltan||

    Those are called "QA Analysts".

  • ||

    First of all, that's one of three key factors Caplan identifies, not the entire proposed calculus.

    Secondly, should parents really be indifferent about the happiness of their children?

  • ||

    First of all, that's one of three key factors Caplan identifies, not the entire proposed calculus.

    Secondly, should parents really be indifferent about the happiness of their children?

  • ||

    First of all, that's one of three key factors Caplan identifies, not the entire proposed calculus.

    Secondly, should parents really be indifferent about the happiness of their children?

  • ||

    ...uhhh...woah. My bad. Smoking too much meth again.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    From what I've seen, Chua screwed up the Tiger Mom approach. You can't just put your kids to the grindstone, scream at them incessantly, and expect great results. You have to cultivate an active disdain for people outside the family, those slackers and layabouts. Problem is, she never cultivated that disdain. Her kids wanted to be like other kids instead of laughing at them.

  • BakedPenguin||

    If you like classical guitar and beautiful women: Ana Vidovic performing Asturias.

    No word on whether her mom was a tiger.

  • pervert||

    I'd like to finger her fret board

  • Gregory Smith||

    Why are we taking parenting lessons from a Chinese communist? You can be a great parent and let your kids have sleepovers and participate in the school play. I think Sarah Palin IS a great parent, and the fact that Bristol got pregnant means nothing, that happens in the best families, including families where they buy the kids condoms and birth control.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Dear Mr. Smith,

    A.) She's an American of Chinese-Phillippine descent.

    B.) She's a professor of International Business Law, hardly a communist.

    Now kindly, eat shit and die, you moron.

  • Salvific Octaroon||

    Greg is so unhinged, I have trouble discerning where he's being parodied and where it's truly him. This sounds like parody to me, though. The part where he launches into a diatribe, preemptively defending Sarah Palin seems a bit much.

  • Sheri Noga MA||

    As a psychotherapist in private practice for 30 years and the author of a book on parenting, I"m not surprised that American parents are considering a memoir as a guide for child rearing. American children are more depressed, anxious, entitled and unmotivated than they have been in many years. Parents are over-indulging children in most areas - material goods, bad behavior, and praise for the most mundane of accomplishments. Being an authoritative, yet loving parent produces the most well-adjusted and happy children. It's not that hard. American parents need to educate themselves.
    I have posted a video parody of tiger mom, for those who want a smile. Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zrdoOPOGp8

    Sheri Noga - Author of "Have the Guts to Do it Right: Raising Grateful and Responsible Children in an Era of Indulgence"

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