There has been a lot of commentary in the last few years about the failing of American families. How we raise our children can have a huge impact on the future of our country. With the massive increase in single-mother homes and the claims that men, and traditional family notions including the role of parents, aren’t really relevant for successful children, feminists may be forcing us all to bury our heads in the sand while our culture impales its future on the jagged hypocritical blades of Political Correctness.
In that vein, this article, drawn to my attention in a comment by ReaderLon on Chateau Roissy, made some very salient points about how childrearing strategies used by Chinese mothers are profoundly superior to current American or Western models. The whole article is worth reading.
I recall my own “Traditional White American” background. We had an interventionist mother who focused on her childrens’ educations, in a catholic tradition that brooked no excuses for failure and no sympathy for misdemeanors. That said, my mother was and remains a hard-core “Equity Feminist” with conservative leanings. The upshot was that she expected my sisters to perform, and saying “I’m just a girl” got them no passes. On the other hand, she didn’t expect them to enjoy hunting (though one sister does) nor did she expect them to become CEOs; she did, however, expect them to have children of their own, which they both did. Our own non-Asian, very American family managed to produce a clutch of highly successful young people, and my siblings have gone on to do the same. From what i can tell, this was quite common until the 1960’s and 70’s. It was then that children were simply left to their own devices and the downward spiral commenced.
One of the basic requirements for the traditional style of parenting is at least one parent who prioritizes child-raising over work or personal interests. Few women will respect men who do this, instead almost always choosing men who are better than they are at earning money, while they themselves prioritize the care of their offspring. Even doctrinaire feminists must admit this about the men they’re attracted to, with “house husbands” not being anywhere near the top of the list. All of this is obvious to any non-indoctrinated man who has ever had to deal with actual, real live women and has tried to maintain relationships with them. The fact that this ancient, natural pattern seems biologically encoded into the species angers feminists the most: it seems to be the default setting for the Human Race, and that to resist it is to resist basic human nature. Hence the need for the denial of the reality of basic human nature or its suppression.
It’s why Simone de Beauvoir, the grande-dame of 3rd-wave Marxist-Feminism, felt the need to say,
“No, we don’t believe that any woman should have this choice. No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make it.”
–Simone de Beauvoir
But when women also place their emphasis on work or personal development, it leaves no-one in their children’s educational driver’s seat. Our culture quite literally becomes direction- and ambition-less. Fathers can step in, when allowed or required to, but if there is no father or he’s kept away against his wishes, this leaves the children with no support.
Personal notes: China and Korea
I lived in Korea and China and I saw how both social systems work. With a few reservations, I endorse what the article states as accurate observations. These aren’t just stereotypes about different individual families; the phenomenon of the “Chinese Mom” is very real. It’s also true in Korea, though there it’s slightly different, and I’ll comment on that below. This is much of the reason for the individual success of modern Chinese children and the collective social success of Asian societies generally.
The Effects of 3rd-Wave / MarxistFeminism
American feminists refuse to admit this, but the lower performance results of white Americans in the last 2 generations unequivocally speak to the socially catastrophe side-effects of third-wave feminist and culturally-marxist policy prescriptions. Feminists and liberals contort themselves into bizarre philosophical shapes to avoid this hard fact, but a hard fact it remains. Asian immigrants sporting Asian family values are, on average, far more successful than Americans raised in modern families. They fill scholarship rolls, get top jobs, outperform all of their rivals, maximize their talents and are becoming wealthier and more generally successful much faster than any group in American history. For anyone familiar with Asia, the superiority of the Asian family model in raising children is both obvious and absolutely undeniable, and the final proof for naysayers is in the results. Despite Liberal rhetoric, Big Government can’t replace functioning families that emphasize the welfare of children. The result of liberal policies has been the destruction of American potential and lost lives. We can see the most tragic results in the trenches of black America, where illegitimacy, single-mother families and non-existent fathers have become the norm. Heather Macdonald writes about it extensively.
It’s not safe to be smug, however. The rest of America is racing down that path as we speak. We can look on the failed single-parent families and illegitimacy-as-normal in the black community as a harbinger of what awaits the rest of society.
The abundant truth of these observations are apparent to Asian-American families, especially those originally from China, Korea or Japan. White liberals can only deny this through rampant cognitive dissonance or ideological blindness.
This study, along will every other one, confirms the patently obvious:
The purpose of this study is to explain the gap between Asian American and white students in mathematics test scores by combining both cultural and socioeconomic approaches presented in previous studies. The sample consisted of a nationally representative sample of 1465 Asian American and 8757 white American students obtained from National Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002, by the National Center for Educational Statistics. Ordinary Least Square (OLS) results indicate that parental involvement and students’ individual motivation explain why Asian American students perform better than white American students. Meanwhile, better socioeconomic backgrounds and higher rates of two-biological-parent households also contribute to Asian student’s better performance on mathematics test scores. However, Asian students who live with both biological parents make lower mathematics test scores than white American students who live with both biological parents. This result implies that Asian American students might have higher pressure from their parents on their education.
Clearly, all is not lost. White two-family households still perform better, on average than Asian two-parent households, meaning that there is scope to recover some of America’s lost potential. I submit that the key is a focus on our children, and on maintaining the integrity of successful families, with at least one parent, if not both, focused on making sure children succeed.
And even Wikipedia has much to say on this subject.
Self-selective immigration hypothesis
One possible cause of the higher performance of Asian Americans as a group is that they represent a small self-selected group of Asians. The relative difficulty of emigrating into the United States selected out those with less resources, motivation or ability.
This pattern of success, however, is also found in Asia, so despite self-selection, there must be something to the notion of cultural superiority. Jewish culture in America is very similar in most respects.
Cultural differences **
Cultural factors are thought to be part of the reason why Asian Americans are successful in the United States. East Asian societies themselves, in general, will often place more resources and emphasis on education. For example, the Chinese culture places great value on work ethic and the pursuit of knowledge. In traditional Chinese social stratification, scholars were ranked at the top — well above businessmen and landowners. This view of knowledge is evident in the modern lifestyle of many Asian American families, where the whole family puts emphasis on education and parents will make it their priority to push their children to study and achieve high marks. Similar cultural tendencies and values are found in South and Southeast Asian families (such as Indian Americans and Filipino Americans), whose children similarly face extra pressure by parents to succeed in school and to achieve high-ranked jobs.
Note that this takes sacrifice, time and effort that almost requires women to take time away from personal careers. In Asian cultures, it’s crucial to note that this is an almost wholly female pursuit. Asian women take no shame in being excellent mothers; quite the opposite. In fact, how well they perform this most important job is often a point of pride. In North America, we’ve “liberated” women from the need to sacrifice their individuality to raise their children, and promote gender-neutrality. Despite these stated gender-neutral goals, the net effect is to render children directionless and leave nobody in the childrearing driver’s seat.
In this sense, American3rd-wave feminism can be seen for what it is: yet another part of the “Me Me Me Me” philosophy of the Baby Boomers. It’s just another selfish, self-aggrandizing 1960’s social movement that takes no responsibility for the effects of its policy advice and emphasizes personal freedom without any personal responsibility or forethought- the clarion call of the 1960’s and 70’s.
The damage to out culture, our economy and our future is one of the unacknowledged but unavoidable truths of our time.
Problems with the Chinese Model
That said, much of the pain, misplaced ambition and failure Chinese kids experience can be laid at the feet of relentless parents who push the wrong way. An athletically gifted kid will be shunted to a narrow band of academics because this is the only socially respected activity. A theatrically talented child will be denied this route because a medical/legal/engineering degree is what the parents want, and they won’t brook argument. I knew one man who diligently acquired an engineering degree despite his mediocre math skills, and the day after he graduated, presented the diploma to his smiling parents. In a solemn tone, he then told them to frame it and put it on their wall, because he wanted nothing to do with it. He never again touched it or used it. He immediately went back to art school and eventually became a painter. He’s often told me his baffled parents never quite dealt with the shock of what they see as his bizarre betrayal, but last year, a decade after he stopped visiting the family home, his sister told him that their mother quietly purchased one of his paintings from an art show to hang in a prominent place in their living room.
This is the problem with absolutely denying the individuality of children. Parents are very often wrong. And when they’re wrong, it’s their children who suffer, given the power of the parents.
There are other issues, as well. Traditional Chinese culture is very spare with physical affection. Family life is all about duty – very rarely is love involved. Miserable family life is all too common, if not almost normal. Though Chinese rarely admit to it, this fact is obvious to outsiders. Also, other problems noticed in the west, including physical, emotional and sexual abuse, are also common in China and the rest of Asia, the only difference being that they’re never openly discussed or documented. This issue of “saving face” and dealing with problems internally (meaning, not dealing with them at all) is a much less admirable aspect of Asian societies.
But for that matter, social problems within families are common here, too. Happily, we’re free to talk about it more than the Chinese tend to be.
Korea illustrates another Asian family model.
While Chinese parenting is often all about demanding from their children, Korean parenting is usually more about pushing and supporting. There’s a very strong, almost tactile difference in the approach.
Koreans are much more physically touchy-feely with their kids than Chinese parents, perhaps even more than white Americans. Chinese fathers are often physically distant, almost cold; Chinese mothers are legendary for browbeating their kids and being unaffectionate, while being quite demanding.
In sharp contrast, Korean parents are notoriously affectionate. They love their kids and show it all the time.
I remember meeting foreign parents living in Korea with their kids. They were often shocked when strangers came up and actually touched their children – patting their heads or taking their hands. Korean culture is not obsessed with the risks of abusive strangers, refreshingly, and Korean culture is, overall, much more affectionate with children. They love all children. China, on the other hand, is not like this. It’s not a very “affectionate” place.
Also, for all the pressure, parents in Korea don’t have to browbeat their children to get them to perform; the social order (friends, school, work, etc.) does that every minute of every day. In China, you can be a lazy ass if you want. Nobody gives a damn if you live or die, or drop out of school. The pressure comes entirely from the family, and as such, families are notorious pressure-cookers. In Korea, the family doesn’t need to browbeat you as much, because society does it – so parents often have a better relationship with their kids, and unlike China, this relationship is not necessarily based on simple duty and respect. The Korean family is often more of a release valve from the pressure cooker of society than a pressure cooker itself.
That said, Korean mothers work hard to make sure their children perform well. It’s similar to the pattern in China, but not the same. Because the social pressure is so intense, the Korean mother is often seen as more of an ally than a taskmaster, which is what a lot of Chinese kids feel about their parents.
Children are sacred in Korea. Parents will do absolutely anything for them. There’s no sacrifice too much or too high. It’s impossible to exaggerate the levels to which Koreans will go to guarantee their children opportunities. Once the kids are born, life becomes a devotion to their welfare and future that Americans into the Me generation of the 1960’s likely find hard to believe.
Parenting and Sacrifice
Some of the stories will be familiar to any Korean-Americans reading this. I’ve seen parents separate for a decade or more so that the mother can raise their children in a foreign country, trying to guarantee them an English-language education which can be the ticket to success. I’ve also seen fathers work insane hours every day, taking time out only for 5-6 hours of sleep a night, all to financially support his family. Many men literally work themselves to death. On the other hand, Korean women typically wake very early, prepare a healthy and elaborate breakfast, take their kids to school, look after the younger ones, take care of the home, cook lunch, pick up the children, bring them to one of several daily tutoring sessions, study with them until 1:00 a.m., and then do more chores and sleep. The image of near-permanently exhausted parents and their usually respectful, dutiful children speaks to the strength of the family as a core unit in Korean society. Long into adulthood, Children show respect and love for their parents often absent or missing in the United States.
What’s shocking to Americans is that this punishing lifestyle is considered normal in Korea. Complete sacrifice for your children is required; from fathers in terms of financial support, from mothers in terms of emotional and personal support. The actual daily lives most parents lead are usually wholly devoted to the welfare of their children, and women take the lead role in their childrens’ educational lives. Of course, much of this model is relatively new, dating back only one or two generations. It’s a modern, industrial-economy take on the traditional Korean family. In previous generations, such educational needs didn’t exist; Korea was largely backwards and agricultural. But this model has strong roots in the traditional focus on family structure and responsibilities that go back centuries, if not millennia. Western culture has, at times, been much the same. For some reason, we threw out the baby with the bath water during the social revolutions of the 1960’s and 70’s.
In effect, Korean mothers are full-time “educational co-ordinators”. If measured by the profound success of Korean children,
Problems in Korea
A lot of the “WORK WORK WORK!” Koreans busy themselves with is just that: busy work. Quite often, little to nothing gets done. This is just as true for study. Highschool students’ days start with one or more pre-classes, and then school; they stay in school throughout from 8 am to 10 pm, and they then study for 3-5 more hours at night. They get between 4 and 5 hours of sleep before it starts again at dawn. They do this 6 days a week. Sundays are reserved for family and study, but in reality, most of what they do is study.
Of course, much of this isn’t studying, or is inefficient. It’s the same in the workplace. Almost all offices get nothing done all day, and the work only gets done in the 3-4 hours from 6pm-10/11 pm when people are allowed to do things that aren’t busy-work, social grooming or just “Sitting There” make-work. Almost all organizations in Korea have a “Bum In Chair” philosophy: So long as your bum is in the seat, it’s better than someone who arrives late or worse, who leaves at 6:00, before the boss, who often stays until 10:00 pm or later. An employee who does 7 solid hours of intensive work and then leaves at 5:00 pm will be socially and professionally ostracized. The foreigners I knew in Korea were stunned at how inefficient Koreans could be, how most of their time was wasted, and how little a group of Koreans could get done, when the hours of work put into a project are taken into account.
The higher up the pay scale you go, beyond upper-middle management, the less competent the people were and the less work was accomplished. Also, the higher up the chain you went, less accountability was practiced. In many ways, it’s a victory for innovation-stifling bureaucracy, an accurate description of Korean society (and Asian society) generally.
From the perspective of a neutral observer, an outsider, it’s clear where the advantages are in the Chinese or Korean approach to education, parenting and work, and just as clear where the disadvantages and failures can be found. Just as foreign observers came to America after WWII to study American industry, I think it’s a good idea for Westerners and Western policy-makers to be exposed to North-East Asian domestic and economic culture. The lessons we learn may be uncomfortable to the ideologically pure among us, to all of our racists, conservatives, blind patriots, cultural marxists and feminists, but there is virtue in pragmatism, cultural honesty, openness to criticize and and humility in the face of our mistakes.
In my opinion, a tempered version of the “Chinese Mom” or the “Korean Family” would be a fantastic boon to American society. Taking the right lessons is important, however, because you want your children at the age of 40 or 50 to still like and appreciate you, in a more than “I”m obliged to” kind-of way. And you also want to maintain the American edge in outside-the-box thinking, creativity and in our ability to seize opportunities.
For example, freeing women through equity-feminism was likely a great boon to society. There’s no reason to dismiss the notions that freed up the creative contributions of half our population. However, engaging in “cultural marxism” and narcissism disguised as 3rd-Wave Feminism and Gender Feminism and misandry and anti-Natalism has nothing to do with improving the lives of women, but rather of forcing social change and social engineering on a society that, were the practitioners of these philosophies direct and honest, would never have accepted these ideologies in the first place. We need to be tricked into accepting them, and even then, it’s hard to maintain acceptance in the face of the inevitable results.
A marriage of both Asian and Western cultures could do the following:
– Maximize childrens’ success without turning boys into personality-free, “beta” chumps overly attached to their mothers and women into mere servants of their male counterparts;
– Encourage creativity without hampering practical success
– Create better work habits and reduce frivolous activities to a minimum
– Encourage exploration (which is a powerful advantage of American society) but also encourage pragmatism and concrete measures of success (which Asian culture is very good at).
Most Western-educated Chinese parents understand that they need to embrace their children as individuals – but without indulging them. This is something Liberal America has forgotten, because as a liberal culture, we indulge ourselves all the time. Modern 3rd-and 4th-wave post-equity and gender-feminism is part and parcel of our culture’s general tolerance of self-indulgence, irresponsibility and social fragmentation.
Consider: There must be some reason why almost all foreigners view Westerners as consummately selfish and self-obsessed, and it’s not because of our economic model; other cultures can often be more capitalistic and anti-egalitarian than we are. They think we’re selfish for other reasons that Liberals are uncomfortable addressing.
Needless to say, reforming the failing model of the American family requires getting Big Government as an alternative Father out of the American family, encouraging the creation of happy family units and discouraging the breakup of couples when the welfare of the children could be impacted. It may be that American men and women might need to take interests other than their own immediate needs.
“Eat, Pray Love” comes to mind. If the grotesque self-indulgence of this type of ideal represent anything, it represents the depth of selfish self-love and attention our culture now practices at the expense of, well, of everything else.
Or how about this:
Sandra Tsing-Loh single-handedly illustrated why self-loving narcissism is slowly eating away at anything resembling social responsibility in this country.
Or Corinne Maier, a French author whose book was a paean to selfish non-sacrifice for children, leading to the inevitable – just don’t have any.
The critic summed it up nicely:
Ms. Maier’s list of reasons why one should not have children includes things such as no more sleeping in, not being able to eat in nice restaurants, a lack of spontaneous sex and the ever popular complaint that having children means no more “us” as a couple, but only “us” as parents. Ms. Maier suggests that becoming a parent means you somehow forgo the ability to remain connected to your partner. While I would agree that many parents seem to focus only on their children, I would suggest that this is not the fault of the children, the problem rests solely on the shoulders of the parents.
Ultimately, the fact of demography absolutely requires us to breed and have children. And to make sure that our children have the best of the opportunities that we can provide for them.
Neglecting either of these responsibilities is to forfeit our place as members of a continuing culture and society, and to accept non-existence and death as a culture, a society and a nation.
This all links to other themes relevant to modern American decline and social disorder.
In effect, cultural marxism and feminism, with its denial of hard demographics, its worship of open borders and wholesale cultural population replacement due to unwillingness to support having successful families, and its wholesale attack on all responsibilities while promoting only oppositional rights or conflicting group rights, guarantees that even with their own internal problems, Asian values will produce generations of successful children while our culture of social irresponsibility and reproductive barrenness continues its demoralizing decline.
None of this is inevitable. We can stem the tide. Being humble enough to adopting some of the values I’ve seen in Asia could go a long distance to helping restore some sanity to America.
Illustrating the hypocrisy of “liberal” cultural marxism, successful Asians with better cultural attitudes towards success are often penalized for being successful. So much for the rewards of hard work, intelligence and supportive families. Is this the kind of society we want, a society of Variable Victims and entrenched entitlements?
Asian American status in affirmative action
In the 1980’s, several Ivy League schools alleged that they limited admissions to Asian American students. Because of their high degree of success as a group and over-representation in many areas such as college admissions, most Asian Americans are not granted preferential treatment by affirmative action policies as are other minority groups. Some schools choose lower-scoring applicants from other racial groups over Asian Americans in an attempt to promote racial diversity and to maintain some proportion to the society’s racial demographics.