Letter to the Globe & Mail (January 12, 2011)
Amy Chua’s book highlights one segment of Chinese parenting in the West to the detriment of another swath of the community. According to recent census data, the majority of Chinese-Canadians grow up in low-income households, and within this group children typically do not play musical instruments or devote many hours to homework.
Many Chinese-Canadian youths from low-income backgrounds face problems of underachievement and criminality. I grew up in a very poor Chinese family where none of my siblings completed post secondary schooling. I was arrested twice as a teenager and dropped out of high school before eventually finishing at age 20. However, I did go on to get degrees from the University of Toronto and Princeton, where I faced a cultural shock when meeting Chinese students there who conformed to Ms. Chua’s background.
Because the Chinese tiger mom stereotype is so ingrained, few, if any, outreach programs target at-risk Chinese youths. Some of my childhood Chinese friends are now in jail or drug addicts because people in authority always thought our households resembled Ms. Chua’s.
Kai L. Chan, New York
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