It took this 48-year-old female Chinese Yale law professor to question the unthinkable. America’s childrearing practices are out of whack, imbalanced and hardly the most effective. As a highly educated Chinese ethnic mother, Amy Chua is hard to dismiss although she has been called a lunatic, monster, mean, nut and many other pejoratives.

Mrs. Chua blasting through the iron curtain of political correctness has been spectacular. Her negative take on parents allowing young children to have sleepovers, play dates, Facebook pages, unlimited computer access and games has caused a firestorm of reaction. The attack on this mother has been over-the-top only because she has highlighted obvious defects in our permissive materialistic (PM) approach. Modern parents know in their hearts that appeasement of their children has made them vulnerable to everyday stress and anyone who will give them things.

This PM approach ushered in by Benjamin Spock, M.D., self-proclaimed socialist, was not based on trial and error or scientific evidence but was sold to the American public as a more humane way of dealing with children. In truth, it could be called lazy, bribing parenting.

In dealing with children, parents are supposed to be friends, not parents. The problem with this approach has been its poor results. Modern American children have serious attention, obesity, respect, mental health, and work ethic issues. Our international academic rating is dismal. Latest test results from the Program for International Student Assessment shows American students were 17{+t}{+h} in reading, 23{+r}{+d} in science and 31{+s}{+t} in math. Shanghai was first in all three categories.

American children are not being challenged to overcome even minor obstacles. They are coddled as compared to past generations and foreign-born children. The games they have been allowed to play by their shortsighted parents hinge on neglect. Instead of parents setting down boundaries when children are toddlers, they abdicate their power never to be regained. Modern children have been empowered to believe they have “rights” but are not being taught “rights” come with responsibilities.

Current parents cop out of their major duty of preparing children to face the harsh realities of life. Instead of children facing consequences for their behavior, parents make excuses for them. Modern children are encouraged to have high self-esteem, even though they exaggerate and outright lie about their achievements. They take shortcuts to appear that they have succeeded in completing a goal.

Parents, teachers and other authority figures play along with these charades by lowering standards or not even setting expectations for children at different stages of development. Parents have become public relations boosters for their children’s slightest positive actions. Teachers dumb down standards and inflate grades. Coaches have to play everyone and not keep score so the children’s ego does not get a taste of reality and to shut up obnoxious parents fighting to give their child an unfair advantage.

Trophies, honor roll awards and “my child is the brightest” have become an ego contest for parents but a disaster for the children’s development into a mature adult. This is the reason Ms. Chua’s innocent comments about her parenting have angered so many modern parents and elite media. The truth often hurts anyone living a lie but gives the person an opportunity to learn a better way to succeed in life.

The research evidence supports Ms. Chua’s strict teachings, old school and immigrant parents who know that children have to be challenged and prodded to overcome obstacles. The parent pushing the child to stop whining and direct his efforts to meet his or his parent’s objectives pays great dividends. The child learns that when he puts his mind to something, he can do it. These children learn:

  1. To pay attention to authority figures and gain self-control.

  2. To be more optimistic and decisive.

  3. To face adversity and overcome it.

  4. To make activities not initially liked to become fun they have to be mastered.

  5. Repetitive practice (drilling) is a necessary annoyance to make learning automatic. (Research has shown these practices free up the brain for higher-level mental operations.)

Demanding parents are politically incorrect, but it doesn’t mean they don’t love their children. They refuse to accept mediocrity. When frustrated, they may call the child a loser, “garbage” or worse if he does not do his best. These parents are like coaches who push their players. The children learn from tough love that high expectations, perseverance, hard work and no excuses are a prescription for success.

Ms. Chua has reluctantly opened up a necessary childrearing debate. She has challenged the sacrosanct, PM way of raising children. Current parents have gone to the extreme in using this lazy parenting style. We need to establish a more middle-of-the-road approach to meet the realities of a global world. We cannot continue to indulge children in a world of fantasy but teach them lessons to better handle life. It is close to a criminal act to allow our offspring to be unprepared to face the real world.

Thank you, Ms. Chua, for opening up the debate that could strengthen the character of our children and our nation.

Dr. Domenick J. Maglio is the author of “Invasion Within” and “Essential Parenting.” He is a psychotherapist and the owner/director of Wider Horizons School. Visit:

HOME IS THE NEW FIRST GRADE – Teach Your Child to Count to 10 – Early Learning Method

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