Gloria Pan

    Move Over Amy Chua: 2012 Is the Year of the Dragon Mom

    Posted January 23rd, 2012 by

    Amy Chua ousted the timid Rabbit and made 2011 the Year of the Tiger. Her book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a memoir about how she raised fabulously successful children through strict parenting, became a global phenomenon. Parents everywhere fiercely debated the pros and cons of Chua’s extreme methods, but love her or hate her, all agreed that Chua is formidable.

    Well Pshaw, Amy Chua. You Tiger Moms may know how to turn little kids into scholastic giants and musical prodigies, but how about picking on someone closer to your own size? January 23 is the Chinese New Year and the beginning of the Year of the Dragon – my year. Come stand by me, a Dragon Mom, and see what a real challenge looks like.

    What Is a Dragon Mom?

    Dragons were the exclusive symbol of China’s emperors for very good reason. According to the Chinese zodiac, Dragon people are passionate, fearless, bold and confident they can change the world. Imagine these crusading personality traits combined with parenting instincts.

    There is a quiet revolution happening in our country. In the past, men were the main breadwinners and drivers of technology. Now it is women, inside and outside the home, who are leading usage in both wireless technology and social media networks. Our priorities are different, and we’re also taking to the streets to be heard.

    Moms are facing down government officials over school funding, toting picket signs for fair working conditions, leading stroller brigades for marriage rights, and turning to blogs, Twitter and Facebook to advocate for issues like healthcare for all. We gave birth to the 99%, and a quick and dirty Google search on “moms at Occupy Wall Street” will turn up blogs such as this one by mothers who took their children to the rallies.


    Dragon Moms share a vision: A country where our kids — and everyone’s kids — are healthy, safe, and living the American promise of opportunity and a level playing field towards a bright future. We are willing to fight for it, and businesses, politicians and media ignore us at their peril.

    Excellence, Duty, and Accountability

    Dragon Moms may do our share of math drills, late-night homework checks, and incessant nagging about music practice, but not in the pursuit of glory for the sake of glory (to be the most admired, the most awarded, the “best”). Two things motivate us: high standards and a sense of responsibility to make a difference.

    Dragon Moms expect everyone, not just our children, to perform, and we are sorely disappointed when people or institutions don’t or won’t do their jobs to the best of their ability. What kind of teacher or school administrator are you if you fail to educate our children and put their interests first? How dare you public servants, charged to act in our interest, actively subvert the regulations and standards this country needs to check polluters and protect consumers from corporate greed?

    And nothing bothers us more than when we, ourselves, fail to successfully juggle families and jobs because of outdated labor laws and practices. Hey, lawmakers who continue to drag your feet on issues like Fair Pay and Paid Sick Leave?  You are not on my side.

    Dragon Moms combine an avid interest in the world with a sense of duty to make things better that stems directly from our maternal instincts. Dragon Moms pursue excellence in order to make a positive impact in our communities and on the world — to be part of the solution to problems like poverty and injustice. We aim to leave a better world and a brighter future for our kids than what we’ve got, and we’ll hold accountable anyone or anything that gets in the way of that purpose just as we hold ourselves accountable.

    Why 2012 Is the Year of the Dragon Mom

    Dragon Moms don’t sit out elections. That’s another trend we are driving: Women are more likely than men to vote, and in 2012, Dragon Moms are poised to explode as a constituency.

    No new jobs bill? More attacks on Medicaid, unemployment insurance and other elements of the social safety net our families rely on? Further degrading of our public education system? Continued discounting of our increasingly desperate concerns about environmental threats to our kids? These are just a few issues on an extensive list of items that will tip millions of women across the country, transforming them into fire-breathing Dragon Moms.

    The last straw for me was realizing Congress’s readiness to trade away something as basic to human life as clean air.

    When Dragon Moms fully realize that 2012 is both a general election year AND a Dragon Year, it could be like throwing gasoline onto a bonfire. Famous dragons include Joan of Arc, Susan B. Anthony and Florence Nightingale, names that foreshadow our role in the coming months. Ambitious, unafraid of challenges, and doing everything on a grand scale, Dragon people are driven by a sense of destiny. Let me say that again: Dragon people are driven by a sense of destiny.

    In 2012, political candidates who don’t heed Dragon Moms had better watch out, because we are going to be extra-motivated by the certainty that sweeping change is within our grasp.

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    November 24, 2012 at 1:37 pm by Jerlene

    I’m not sure where you are getting your information, but good topic. I must spend some time studying more or figuring out more. Thanks for fantastic info I was in search of this information for my mission.


    February 9, 2012 at 11:39 am by Anonymous

    Why is the art of music required to endure the ill-informed antics of such inartistic imbeciles as Amy Chua? Her lust for fame as an old-fashioned stage mother of either a famous violinist (yet another mechanical Sarah Chang?) or a famous pianist (yet another mechanical Lang Lang?) shines through what she perceives as devotion to the cultivation of the cultural sensitivities of her two unfortunate daughters.

    Daughter Lulu at age 7 is unable to play compound rhythms from Jacques Ibert with both hands coordinated? Leonard Bernstein couldn’t conduct this at age 50! And he isn’t the only musician of achievement with this-or-that shortcoming. We all have our closets with doors that are not always fully opened.

    And why all this Chinese obsession unthinkingly dumped on violin and piano? What do the parents with such insistence know of violin and piano repertoire? Further, what do they know of the great body of literature for flute? For French horn? For organ? For trumpet? Usually, nothing!

    For pressure-driven (not professionally-driven!) parents like Amy Chua their children, with few exceptions, will remain little more than mechanical sidebars to the core of classical music as it’s practiced by musicians with a humanistic foundation.

    Professor Chua better be socking away a hefty psychoreserve fund in preparation for the care and feeding of her two little lambs once it becomes clear to them both just how empty and ill-defined with pseudo-thorough grounding their emphasis has been on so-called achievement.

    Read more about this widespread, continuing problem in Forbidden Childhood (N.Y., 1957) by Ruth Slenczynska.

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.


    February 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm by Anonymous

    Russians call me German, Germans call me Russian, Jews call me a Christian, Christians a Jew. Pianists call me a composer, composers call me a pianist. The classicists think me a futurist, and the futurists call me a reactionary. My conclusion is that I am neither fish nor fowl – a pitiful individual.
    Anton Rubinstein (1829-94), composer, formidable Russian concert pianist, founder of The Saint Petersburg Conservatory (1862).

    WHO or WHAT is AMY CHUA?
    Her father, Leon L. Chua, was born in The Philippines. He was graduated in 1959 from Mapúa Institute of Technology in Manila as a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. His Master of Science followed from MIT in 1961. Amy was born in Champaign, Illinois on 26 October 1962 while Leon was pursuing his studies for a Ph.D. (1964) at The University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. And it’s here in this synoptic review that her troubles begin with her shield in a contrived public relations makeover comastered by her publisher, Penguin. She states that she is Chinese. But her surname has not been identified anywhere as Chinese.

    Is the author fully ethnically Chinese? I am wondering because while I certainly have not met every Chinese person who has lived, I have known a fair number of Chinese yet have not met a single Chinese person with the author’s surname. I read somewhere that the author’s surname is a translation of a Chinese surname, Tsai, with which I am familiar. How many generations back in her direct family line, i.e. her parents or her parents’ parents, did her family come from China? I have not previously encountered a person who talks & writes so much about being Chinese & talks on behalf of the vast population of mothers born in China yet her surname & how I have heard it pronounced is very different from that with which I am familiar. While I wish to improve to better fluency in Mandarin, I have spoken enough Mandarin with native speakers to notice I have not heard Mandarin Chinese words pronounced with the same pronunciation as I hear her name pronounced. I truly am curious about what I have read briefly about a historical migration of immigrants, including the author’s ancestors, who immigrated to the Philippines, speak a language seemingly common among those immigrants & bear names that are translations from Mandarin Chinese into such language. It is an interesting occurrence I am curious to know more about.

    Cheap Social Worker said…
    When reading excerpts from Amy Chua’s latest book, I noticed that she left out any reference to her Filipino background. Looking at Chua’s biography, her parents spent a considerable amount of time doing business in the Philippines, with her father even going to school there. Chua also spent a good portion of her childhood going back and forth between the United States and the Philippines, though I wonder if she ever went outside the walls of her gated community to interact with the main population. Given that Filipino values on education are very similar to these “Chinese” values Amy Chua promotes, why does “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” ignore her Filipino heritage completely?

    As a Harvard undergraduate during the years that the author was there, I do not recall the author attending any of the many meetings or social occasions held by the Asian students on campus. Although the book discusses the author’s “Chinese” upbringing, and refers to the Chinese food that she loved as a child and the “high culture” of her Chinese ancestors, there is little in the book to indicate that the author is, or considers herself to be, part of a larger community or network of Asians or Chinese in America, an affiliation that’s critical if the author’s voice is to be heard as at all representative of that community.

    It’s not uncommon to hear alcoholics claim that it’s because they’re Irish or to hear that a bad temper is a result of bad genes. Chua is no different, and is justifying her abusive behavior based on the fact that she is Chinese. The reality is that Chua’s style is not a product of her Chinese heritage. Chua has never lived in China; her parents have not either.

    It isn’t at all clear to me when and where Chinese culture came into the heritage of Amy Chua, if indeed it ever has, for the surname Chùa is, in fact, Vietnamese. It means temple and is commonly found in Buddhist and other religious contexts, e.g., (1) Chùa Pháp Hoa – Nam Úc, (2) Chùa Ph?t Tích [Temple of Saint Paul], (3) L? Khánh Thành D?i Hùng B?o Di?n Chùa Quang Minh, ph?n 1, and (4) t?i Chùa Ho?ng Pháp, H?c Môn, Sài Gòn.

    Professor Chua is a graduate of El Cerrito High School in California. She claims a superiority of a Chinese culture she has never lived in but is married to a white American Jew. Attempting yet another of her unpersuasive slow-change / quick-change acts she has claimed to have inculcated so-called, but unspecified, Chinese values into her two American daughters. She clearly believes that unrelenting emotional pressure on children and simultaneous denial of affection toward them will improve their physical skills. What implausible culture that has lasted more than seventy-two consecutive hours has advocated such a bizarre relationship between parent and child? She states that she has denied her two daughters the experiences of having performed in school plays. But their father had to have had enough stage experience prior to having been admitted at age 21 into the Drama Department (1980-1982) of The Juilliard School in Manhattan to justify that admission.

    “all you need to be able to do [to get into Juilliard] is just be badass at one instrument and read music.”
    * * *
    I think that is an extremely simplistic way to look at it. There are children who are groomed for Juilliard from grade school onwards. Children who start playing at 3 or 4 and by the age of 10 are already practicing 6+ hours a day. It takes incredible long-term discipline to be “badass” at one instrument.

    Juilliard grants a 10 minute audition. By the time you walk in, greet the jury, tune up, they get their papers ready to go, glance at your accompanist, you have 7 minutes to convince them that you are at the top of the top and that you have a viable career in performance ahead of you.

    Harvard is, in some senses, more forgiving because you have so many more ways to prove yourself. You can show you are smart through grades, you can show that you earned academic honors, you can show character through recommendation…all Juilliard gives you is 7 minutes to blow them away.

    Professor Chua has stepped as an authority into several worlds in which she has no known experience and attempted to convince readers deeply concerned with the subjects she has written about that her word is the best word, founded as she believes on substantial personal experience. She moves in step with a long and continuing line of crackpot self-styled such authorities to lay claim to a success citing her ill-chosen and unexamined demographic whopping sampling of two, one of whom has effectively rejected her horrific emotional, social, and artistic models in favor of a pursuit of a life as a real person.

    Does anyone now remember the scam of Linus Pauling (1901-94), author of “Vitamin C and the Common Cold”? In 1970 Dr Pauling, a hustling chemist with no patients and no clinical studies to substantiate his claims, convinced many of the world’s non-thinkers that tanking up on vitamin C would cure the common cold, cure cancer, cure heart disease, and wipe out miscellaneous infections. He amassed a small fortune from his publications. Forty-one years later? Anyone who has contracted the seed basis for a cold still sniffles, cancer is rampant, heart disease remains with us, and infections are a functioning reality, increasing in their variety, throughout the human species. And Dr Pauling? Who?

    Obstetricians write books on running. Physicists write books on philosophy. Social workers write books on love. Orthopedists write books on financial investment. Vitamin gurus write books advising pursuit of the Fountain of Youth in the manner of Herodotus and Juan Ponce de León (1474-1521). Generals write unbiased books on history. Psychoanalysts – with the highest suicide rate of any professional group in the world – plumb the woes of others promising answers of consolation.

    And, reminding us, yet again, that fools rush in where angels fear to tread, Professor of Law Amy Chua has overarchingly tried to portray herself with her menopausal-crisis magnum opus that she is (1) an authority on music instruction of the preadolescent, (2) is an informed intellectual on the relationships both distinguishing and binding alien cultures, (3) she believes that both private and public sustained and repetitive humiliations of defenseless children will inevitably lead to a positive strengthening of those children’s characters, (4) she believes that children perceive through the senses of sound and sight what their parents want them to perceive, (5) that there likely will be no relationship between enforced disruptive prohibitions of physiological functions of urination and defecation in early childhood and a possible dysfunction of those systems manifesting later in life, (6) that denial of nutrition is an educational tool, (7) that avowals of love following psychological and physical cruelties meted to the young do not establish a perverse link between those avowals and cruelties, (8) that two daughters who know well that their pussy-whipped father had the valuable preprofessional experiences of the very stage presence they may have wished for themselves in adolescence have not formed an unhealthy opinion of compromised male hegemony during those years it might have benefited them in the formation of what will become their future relations with men, (9) that, while their mother was referring to their minds and their bodies openly and publicly in the most vile terms of contempt and debasement their father sat idly by, possibly out of sight but not out of earshot, (10) that the father of two daughters is portrayed in print and public appearances by their mother as the bringer of jollity when permitted to do so by their mother (Egads!), (11) that the phrase “Head of Household” has been perverted in the Chua example to refer to the elder with the loudest mouth and the least flexible personality, (12) [The reader here is invited to continue filling in the blanks . . .]

    Whether or not any modern Chinese man or woman – or, in the example of Amy Chua, any Filipina descended from Vietnamese – subscribes to any of the tenets of historical Confucianism, those tenets continue, for many modern Orientals both in and from the Eastern lands, to elicit a sentimental ideal to which many pay lip service in time of reference.

    Professor Chua has made a significant fundamental error in attempting to define her relationship with her two daughters. “Parenting method” is not a synonym for “Being a parent.” The former arises from the jargon and complex overlays of institutional structure established by American teachers colleges, their promulgators, and devoted acolytes fallen under the influences of Frederick Wilson Taylor [] and leaders of The Efficiency Movement [] in the first decade of the twentieth century; good for building the Model T but less than good for building character. “Being a parent” arises from the traditional standing of parents within all well-established functioning societies.

    With one exception, all other public pictures of the face of Professor Chua portray her with her signature toothy grin. The only one in which she is not smiling is that showing her imperiously overseeing her younger daughter during a music practice session.

    That this parenting nitwit can lay claim to so-called traditional Chinese values, while supplanting the very bases of those values with individual license to cruelty and an immodest flaunting of self at the expense of those children traditional values would obligate her to protect from adversity, is a revelation of ignorance and egocentricity wholly at odds with the established teachings of Confucius.

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.


    February 1, 2012 at 10:39 am by Asianmommy

    I love the idea of a Dragon Mom, a much better role model than the Tiger Mom, for sure!


    January 28, 2012 at 1:44 pm by nicole

    We at aha!Chinese love your activist take on the Year of the Dragon…”Dragon Moms pursue excellence in order to make a positive impact in our communities and on the world — to be part of the solution to problems…”


    Anita Reply:

    Thanks so much for sharing that!


    Anonymous Reply:

    @nicole, Thanks! Let’s hope that this year really WILL be the Year of the Dragon Mom, where all moms who care about our kids’ future join our voices and rise up to just make everything better!


    January 28, 2012 at 3:29 am by Tracey

    Let’s all celebrate Dragon Moms! I love this series of posts from Asian bloggers. What a fantastic idea.


    January 24, 2012 at 11:43 pm by AnaRC

    This is a great post! Ambitious, unafraid of challenges, and doing everything on a grand scale! Just love it :)


    Anita Reply:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Ana! Great seeing you here!


    January 24, 2012 at 1:03 am by HapaMama

    As mothers, I think we all have a bit of dragon in us!


    January 23, 2012 at 11:45 pm by GIna L. Carroll

    Whoo Hoo! Love it! Now that’s my movement! Nicely said. Going now to spread this far and wide!


    Elisa Batista Reply:

    @GIna L. Carroll, Hi Gina! I agree. I am SO a dragon mom! :)


    Anita Reply:

    I think I am, too!


    January 23, 2012 at 9:39 pm by Hiragana Mama

    I absolutely love the way you wrote the second to last paragraph, and the phrase “Dragon people are driven by a sense of destiny”. I’ll try to remember that in 2012.



    1. MomsRising Celebrates the Year of the Dragon: Lunar New Year Blog Carnival « MomsRising Blog
    2. Dragon Mother: What it takes to raise a game changer « MomsRising Blog

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