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Yale Law Prof Targeted in Mommy Wars Offers Further Explanation of Her Thoughts on Parenting

Posted Jan 13, 2011 6:31 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A professor at Yale Law School has received death threats since an excerpt of her new book about parenting, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, was published this week in the Wall Street Journal, putting her front and center as a target in the mommy wars.

But, while defending her decision to rear her two girls in "the Chinese way," Amy Chua also says she doesn't have all the answers and believes that parents can legitimately use different styles, the Daily Beast reported.

Among the 300 to 600 messages she is now getting daily are praise and thanks, she tells the post's author, Lisa Miller, a writer for Newsweek. But there are also comments such as "go back to China, you abusive monster" and death threats, Chua says. "It’s much more overwhelming than I thought it would be.”

Expanding on the parenting concept discussed in the initial book excerpt, Chua tells the Daily Beast that she has some regrets and would do some things differently as a parent, in retrospect. However, she continues to believe that raising children with high expectations and discipline is appropriate, albeit perhaps ideally in a somewhat dialed-down version of what is described in the original Wall Street Journal excerpt.

The initial Wall Street Journal story describes, at one point, how Chua put a daughter's dollhouse in the car and said she would donate it to charity unless she kept practicing a two-handed piano piece with which the girl was having difficulty. When that didn't work, she threatened to withhold meals and prevent her from attending birthday parties.

Her husband suggested that she might be taking too harsh an approach and even she herself was beginning to doubt, Chua writes, as she insisted that the girl keep practicing until she got it right. But then her daughter finally did get it right, beaming with a sense of accomplishment.

Later, when the girl rebelled as a teenager, Chua relented and allowed her to spend more time practicing her tennis game and less at the violin.

“If there’s a takeaway from the book, it’s about a search for balance,” she tells the Daily Beast about her book. “And maybe the dominant mainstream permissive Western model is not ideal, but nor is the extremely strict only-violin-or-piano.”

Her husband, who is also a Yale law prof, grew up in “a very permissive, liberal family," she tells Miller, "and he came out great.”

Chua also offers further thoughts on her own parenting in Ideas Market blog of the Wall Street Journal

The newspaper's initial article about Chua's book sparked some 4,000 comments to the newspaper and 100,000 on Facebook, the WSJ blog post says.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Chinese Moms Succeed Because They ‘Gasp in Horror’ at an A-Minus, Yale Law Prof Says"

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