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Tiger Mom
Posted By T. AKA Ricky Raw On February 7, 2011 @ 3:53 AM In Uncategorized | 33 Comments

I wasnt going to write about Amy Chua, the infamous Tiger Mom who bragged in the Wall Street Journal [7]about how the domineering way she raised her kids, because so many other people were writing about her that I became sick of hearing her name. But I felt not enough people were nailing the real problem, so I decided to finally give my 2 cents. First, Amy Chua is not a Chinese mother. Shes an American mother. And like most modern, educated North American women, shes suffering from a degree of narcissism. Except shes got it to the nth degree. She was born in Champaign, Illinois and is married to a white, seemingly American-born Jewish guy. She fiercely holds on to the Chinese mother label primarily because it marks her as unique in comparison to the other mothers around her. Because like all narcissists, she suffers from a gnawing feeling of her own inferiority and therefore has to overcompensate to set herself apart from others and reinforce feelings of superiority. This obnoxious sense of projected, cartoonishly exaggerated superiority is at the heart of all superiority complexes, as described by Alfred Adler: The superiority complex is one of the ways which a person with an inferiority [feeling] complex may use as a method of escape from his difficulties. He assumes that he is superior when he is not, and this false success compensates him for the state of inferiority which he cannot bear. The normal person does not have a superiority complex, he does not even have a sense of superiority. He has the striving to be superior in the sense that we all have ambition to be successful; but so long as this striving is expressed in work it does not lead to false valuations, which are at the root of mental disease. She suffers from the narcissism of small differences [8]. For all intents and purposes, shes an American woman and has embraced the American lifestyle, but she hones in on the minor ways in which shes different, her parents culture, and plays it up as a way to feel unique. Which is not to say that her Chinese heritage didnt as a child and doesnt to this day continue to inform her life in subtle ways, but in no way does it inform it to the extent she claims it does, to the point where she can claim to be a Chinese mother running a traditional Chinese household. I had a similar thing going on when I was younger, where I felt as a Haitian-American I was so radically different than the other American kids around me, with my heavily accented parents and their strict, domineering ways. Then I visited Haiti and realized that I was actually far more different from them then I was from my American peers. After that, I faced reality and realized that I was for all intents and purposes culturally American, no matter what little idiosyncratic differences I had in my home life. But I do often see in many North American-born children of immigrants this idea of grasping onto their parents culture and trying to exaggerate their connection to it in order to convince themselves and others of their uniqueness. Mostly its harmless, and there are positives to

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embracing your ancestry. But people like Chua to me do it mostly to find some way to convince themselves of their superiority to those around them, in Chuas case the Western mothers. Make no mistake about it: Chua is a narcissist with a superiority complex. The title of the piece is even Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior. The word superior is right there in the title! Consider the following passage from the book The Destructive Narcissistic Pattern by Nina Brown: The reverse selfobject, or parentified child, experience negatively impacts development of the cohesive self. A reverse selfobject experience occurs when the parent expects the infant or child to meet the parents underdeveloped narcissistic needs. Instead of empathically meeting the infants or childs needs, especially mirroring the grandiose self and providing unconditional approval, the parent expects or demands that the infant or child be emphatically responsive to the parents needs. Thus, a pattern is established where the infant or child may have his physical needs met but not psychological needs and the child is expected to meet the emotional needs of the parent. The infant or child is approved of only when he or she is able to meet these underdeveloped, narcissistic needs of the parent. An example might be when a parent has the undeveloped narcissistic need to be the center of attention, admired and envied by everyone, and considers others to be an extension of self. The child, by extension, must fulfill these needs by insuring the parent stay in the center of attention, etc.: the parent approves of the child to the extent that others admire the parent for having such an exceptional child and to the degree that the child attracts attention to the parent through physical looks, actions, etc. The child is not perceived by the parent to be a distinct, separate individual but is considered to be an extension of the parent, whose mission is to meet these underdeveloped narcissistic needs. These are the children who may be expected to win beauty contests, excel in sports, music, dance, etc, and be academically gifted to meet the parents needs. The children are approved of to the extent to which they can fulfill these parental expectations and not valued for their inherent worth. Read her article after reading that excerpt and see if it doesnt play differently in your mind now. Another aspect of narcissism is that they have much trouble seeing other people as fullydeveloped individuals and tend to see them instead as extensions of themselves. They see the world as some giant autobiographical novel or movie with themselves as main characters, and everyone else existing not as fully-formed whole individuals but as some supporting character in the autobiographical melodrama, notable only for the role theyve been designated to play in the narcissists life. This causes them to have extremely poor boundaries when it comes to respecting the thoughts, feelings and privacy of others. For example I once was seeing a narcissist who felt entitled to invade my privacy by going through all my messages and then immediately confront me about what she found afterward, not even considering what she just did was wrong. Yet she was so ultrasensitive to every slight and rabid and overly extreme when it came to protecting her own boundaries that I have no doubt she would have gone into harpy mode if the situation was reversed. These are the self-serving double standards narcissists live by, because in their minds theyre so superior that the rules dont apply to them. Chuas article shows this type of thinking frequently. Crossing boundaries gives narcissists a sense of power and is another way they give themselves a false sense of superiority. This is why she takes pride in crossing them with her kids, and also why she takes pride in being tactless and offending the other people at dinner parties and driving one woman to tears. The ability to emotionally disturb others so much is a cheap attention ploy, a way to gain the narcissistic supply she so craves and feel important. All attention is good attention. Lets look at the opening lines of Chuas Tiger Mom article in the Wall Street Journal [7]: Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do: attend a sleepover have a playdate be in a school play complain about not being in a school play watch TV or play computer games choose their own extracurricular activities get any grade less than an A not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama play any instrument other than the piano or violin

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not play the piano or violin. What do you notice there? Those arent sacrifices she makes for her kids. Those are all sacrifices her kids make for her! Thats the big difference. The Chinese parents bust their humps working in unglamorous places day in and day out with little glory and fanfare to provide for their kids. And they expect their kids to return the favor by sacrificing in return. What sacrifices is Chua making? In fact, Chua has a nanny. And she uses this nanny to teach the kids Mandarin, which Chua herself, the Chinese mother, doesnt even speak. Traditional Chinese parents sacrificed their own personal glory in the here and now so that they could be rewarded by the future glory of their kids, and the expected their kids to sacrifice side by side with them. Chua on the other hand is not sacrificing side by side with her kids for their future glory. Shes making them sacrifice alone for her present self-aggrandizement. Like all narcissists, shes operating from a place of out of control entitlement. And of course, social conservatives are as clueless as usual. Because liberals are upset about this, they automatically assume it must be a good thing and cackle with glee. Take the case of Charles Murray [9], a very myopic thinker who in most of his writing seems to reduce life and human worth to test scores and credentials, when he cheers Chua: Amy Chua is a hoot. Her WSJ op ed about the superiority of Chinese parenting, a take from her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, has blogs around the world roaring at a woman who could be so cruel to her children. I was laughing out loud throughout, partly because she clearly was having the time of her life twitting the sensitive helicopter parents who cant bear the idea that their wonderful child is stressed or criticized in any way whatsoever. Ahhh, it makes liberals mad so it must be good! Hahahaa! Shes so radically different than those silly sensitive helicopter parents. Errr, except shes not. Murrays piece is so clueless and poorly thought-out its mind-boggling (presumably because hes in such a rush to get to the real point of the piece (and every piece he does), the racial basis for IQ). First off, this is a woman who thinks if her daughters spend a single night around other children without her around to monitor, not even lower-class kids of dubious background but other upper middle-class, high achieving kids, they will be irrevocably ruined. They are so fragile they have to be hidden away from their peers, lest they instantly spoil and fall down the wrong path. She hovers over them like a hawk, monitoring which activities they can or cant engage in, choosing their friends, banning them from interacting with other children of similar socioeconomic class and education level Can Murray explain exactly how Chua is not a sensitive, helicopter parent herself? The opposite of a helicopter parent isnt another type of hovering, micromanaging neurotic parent, its a parent who lets their kids explore things on their own and encounter setbacks and hardships and then trusts them to bounce back and come back stronger from them and develop independence. Chua is actually a bigger helicopter parent than the people Murrays laughing at, and is likely raising even bigger wimps, as David Brooks pointed out in his piece Amy Chua is a Wimp: [10] (this is just an excerpt but I recommend the whole piece) I have the opposite problem with Chua. I believe shes coddling her children. Shes protecting them from the most intellectually demanding activities because she doesnt understand whats cognitively difficult and what isnt. Practicing a piece of music for four hours requires focused attention, but it is nowhere near as cognitively demanding as a sleepover with 14-year-old girls. Managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, navigating the distinction between self and group these and other social tests impose cognitive demands that blow away any intense tutoring session or a class at Yale. Yet mastering these arduous skills is at the very essence of achievement. Most people work in groups. We do this because groups are much more efficient at solving problems than individuals (swimmers are often motivated to have their best times as part of relay teams, not in individual events). Moreover, the performance of a group does not correlate well with the average I.Q. of the group or even with the I.Q.s of the smartest members Participating in a well-functioning group is really hard. It requires the ability to trust people outside your kinship circle, read intonations and moods, understand how the

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psychological pieces each person brings to the room can and cannot fit together. This skill set is not taught formally, but it is imparted through arduous experiences. These are exactly the kinds of difficult experiences Chua shelters her children from by making them rush home to hit the homework table. Its the lesson I was trying to teach when discussing priority analysis [8]: once you understand different priorities of people, you start seeing how their strategies are exactly the same. The liberals Murray scoffs at are sensitive helicopter parents who neurotically shelter their children and micromanage their lives so that nothing can hurt their self-esteem, which would theoretically ruin them for life. Meanwhile Chua is a sensitive helicopter parent who neurotically shelters her children and micromanages their lives so that nothing can tempt them away from their drive for academic success, which would theoretically ruin them for life. Both sets of parents are pampering and sheltering their kids and are domineering and in the end are both raising children who will be weak and narcissistic, just in different ways. In fact, when Alfred Adler lists the cause of superiority complexes and narcissism, he lists pampering parents, but interestingly he defines pampering as overbearing parenting either in the form of spoiling and overindulging or in the form of tyranny and authoritarianism. He realized what Murray is too race, credential and IQ-obsessed to realize: that such parenting styles arent polar opposites at all but actually flip sides of the same neurotic coin that lead to many of the same results. The conservative pundits cheering Chuas piece claim its the perfect antidote to the current self-esteem based parenting that is supposedly leading to increasingly narcissistic generations of youngsters. Yet what is the unconscious message Chuas daughters get when told that theyre too good to have sleepovers with other girl? That they are so superior to these other girls, so pure, advanced and elevated in comparison, that just being exposed to these other girls even for just one night would somehow drastically and instantly ruin them. Theyre special girls with a special destiny, different from their peers. Its like the Superman comics, where his parents tell him that he may look like regular humans but hes actually very special and different and advanced and has his own special superior destiny that will set him apart from them, even as he is forced to live among them. Are these conservatives really so dense that they cant tell that Chuas daughters are learning narcissism and superiority complexes, just in a different and possibly worse way than the self-esteem obsessed kids are? Those kids are being told how great they are. Chuas kids are already acting better than everyone else. Which is why I say Chua is at heart an American mother, just with superficial differences. And consider another excerpt from The Destructive Narcissistic Pattern: The reverse selfobject places a burden on the infant or child because he or she is thrust prematurely into assuming the adult parent role or being responsible for the well-being of the parent, especially the emotional well-being. Then check out this open letter Chuas daughter Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld got printed in the NY Post
[11]

, in defense of her mom, valiantly protecting her.

Compare how she protectively treats her mom in the piece compared to how Chua treats her kids emotional well-being in her own piece, and youll see how true that last excerpt is. This girl has been trained to protect her mothers image and emotional well-being and self-esteem more than the other way around. Meanwhile this open letter also shows that shes learning as well to chase the spotlight and may have her own narcissistic issues now brewing as well. And the narcissistic cycle begins anew? [By the way, if you need even more proof of Chua's narcissism, it's not bad enough she made her husband's parenting influence sound almost irrelevant in the original article, but she even hyphenates her kids' last name to include her own?] Recommended Reading: Another good blog post about Amy Chua, this one by The Last Psychiatrist [12]. Good observations overall, although I disagree in how he downplays the narcissism issue. This NY Times review of her book [13] makes further points about Chuas narcissism, backing up its conclusion with self-absorbed and entitled excerpts from the book. It also makes the observation that her husbands mother seems to be an entitled narcissist as well, backing up an earlier post of mine [14] stating that the men who can tolerate drama queens were often trained from childhood to be patient enough to accommodate narcissistic partners from dealing with narcissistic parents.

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The Destructive Narcissistic Pattern [15] by Nina W. Brown is a pricey book, but is one of the best books on narcissism I ever read. It helped me a lot as far as figuring out I was dealing with a raging, entitled narcissist of the extreme pathological variety in my life. It also gives strategies for dealing with them and explains the role you may be playing in bringing narcissists into your own life. Superiority And Social Interest: A Collection Of Later Writings [16] by Alfred Adler is the best writing on superiority complexes Ive ever read. Plain and simple. Despite how crazy she comes off in the article, I still think Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother [17] by Amy Chua would be an interesting book to read, even if just for a closer glimpse at the mindset of a narcissist. And I have read books from Chua in the past, and she really is quite bright.

Article printed from The Rawness: http://therawness.com URL to article: http://therawness.com/tiger-mom/ URLs in this post: [1] The Rawness RSS feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/therawness [2] subscribe via email: http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=therawness [3] feel free to donate to the blog.: https://www.paypal.com/us/cgibin/webscr?cmd=_flow& SESSION=UHnyion5raaSr7OyOVlyp53s6yZBPImVGFUV7OILkLRy1AChAofLLa6Efcq& dispatch=5885d80a13c0db1f8e263663d3faee8dcbcd55a50598f04d34b4bf5056870803 [4] Rawness fan page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/therawness [5] Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/takarickyraw [6] Twitter: http://twitter.com/ricky_raw [7] bragged in the Wall Street Journal : http://online.wsj.com/article /SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html [8] the narcissism of small differences: http://therawness.com/raw-concepts-priorityanalysis-and-narcissism-of-small-differences/ [9] Take the case of Charles Murray: http://blog.american.com/?p=24765 [10] Amy Chua is a Wimp:: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/18/opinion /18brooks.html [11] this open letter Chuas daughter Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld got printed in the NY Post: http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment /why_love_my_strict_chinese_mom_uUvfmLcA5eteY0u2KXt7hM [12] The Last Psychiatrist: http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2011/01 /why_chinese_mothers_are_not_su.html [13] NY Times review of her book: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/20/books /20book.html [14] an earlier post of mine: http://therawness.com/female-questions/ [15] The Destructive Narcissistic Pattern: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product /027596017X?ie=UTF8&tag=johnnytriangl-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789& creative=9325&creativeASIN=027596017Xjohnnytriangl-20 [16] Superiority And Social Interest: A Collection Of Later Writings: http://www.amazon.com /gp/product/0393009106?ie=UTF8&tag=johnnytriangl-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789& creative=9325&creativeASIN=0393009106johnnytriangl-20 [17] Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product /1594202842?ie=UTF8&tag=johnnytriangl-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789& creative=9325&creativeASIN=1594202842johnnytriangl-20 Copyright 2011 The Rawness. All rights reserved.

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