Amy Chua Quotes
“The fact is that Chinese parents can do things that would seem unimaginable-even legally actionable-to Westerners. Chinese mothers can say to their daughters, "Hey fatty-lose some weight." By contrast, Western parents have to tiptoe around the issue, talking in terms of "health" and never ever mentioning the f-word, and their kids still end up in therapy for eating disorders and negative self image.”
“Western parents try to respect their children’s individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions, supporting their choices, and providing positive reinforcement and a nurturing environment. By contrast, the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they’re capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits, and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.”
“Once when I was young-maybe more than once-when I was extremely disrespectful to my mother, my father angrily called me "garbage" in our native Hokkien dialect. It worked really well. I felt terrible and deeply ashamed of what I had done. But it didn't damage my self esteem or anything like that. I knew exactly how highly he thought of me. I didn't actually think I was worthless or feel like a piece of garbage.
As an adult, I once did the same thing to Sophie, calling her garbage in English when she acted extremely disrespectful toward me. When I mentioned I had done this at a dinner party, I was immediately ostracized. One guest named Marcy got so upset she broke down in tears and had to leave early. My friend Susan, the host, tried to rehabilitate me with the remaining guests.
"Oh dear, it's just a misunderstanding. Amy was speaking metaphorically-right, Amy? you didn't actually call Sophie 'garbage.'"
"Um, yes I did. But it's all in the context," I tried to explain. "It's a Chinese immigrant thing.”
“One of my greatest fears is family decline.There’s an old Chinese saying that “prosperity can never last for three generations.” I’ll bet that if someone with empirical skills conducted a longitudinal survey about intergenerational performance, they’d find a remarkably common pattern among Chinese immigrants fortunate enough to have come to the United States as graduate students or skilled workers over the last fifty years. The pattern would go something like this: • The immigrant generation (like my parents) is the hardest-working. Many will have started off in the United States almost penniless, but they will work nonstop until they become successful engineers, scientists, doctors, academics, or businesspeople. As parents, they will be extremely strict and rabidly thrifty. (“Don’t throw out those leftovers! Why are you using so much dishwasher liquid?You don’t need a beauty salon—I can cut your hair even nicer.”) They will invest in real estate. They will not drink much. Everything they do and earn will go toward their children’s education and future. • The next generation (mine), the first to be born in America, will typically be high-achieving. They will usually play the piano and/or violin.They will attend an Ivy League or Top Ten university. They will tend to be professionals—lawyers, doctors, bankers, television anchors—and surpass their parents in income, but that’s partly because they started off with more money and because their parents invested so much in them. They will be less frugal than their parents. They will enjoy cocktails. If they are female, they will often marry a white person. Whether male or female, they will not be as strict with their children as their parents were with them. • The next generation (Sophia and Lulu’s) is the one I spend nights lying awake worrying about. Because of the hard work of their parents and grandparents, this generation will be born into the great comforts of the upper middle class. Even as children they will own many hardcover books (an almost criminal luxury from the point of view of immigrant parents). They will have wealthy friends who get paid for B-pluses.They may or may not attend private schools, but in either case they will expect expensive, brand-name clothes. Finally and most problematically, they will feel that they have individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and therefore be much more likely to disobey their parents and ignore career advice. In short, all factors point to this generation”
“My dogs can't do anything--and what a relief. I don't make any demands of them, and I don't try to shape them or their future. For the most part, I trust them to make the right choices for themselves. I always look forward to seeing them, and I love just watching them sleep. What a great relationship.”
“As it happens, the first souvenir I bought was a dried llama fetus. Revolting as it may sound, my poor stillborn llama is actually rather cute. Frozen in the fetal position and dried stiff like beef jerky, it has the gentle, smiling face of a camel and plenty of soft, if slightly formaldehyde-scented, fur. I bought the llama fetus partly because it horrified me, but also for educational purposes, so that my eight-year-old daughter Sophia could show it to her class. (She refused.)
Bolivians buy llama fetuses to ward off evil in its many guises. Bolivian miners—who, with a life expectancy of forty-five years, basically live their entire adult lives dying—look to llama fetuses for protection against dynamite explosions and the lung-destroying silicon particulates they inhale all day. Downing high-proof alcohol also helps. “The purer the alcohol, the purer the minerals I find,” one miner told me wryly.”
“A life that doesn’t include hard-won accomplishment and triumph over obstacles may not be a satisfying one. There is something deeply fulfilling — even thrilling — in doing almost anything difficult extremely well. There is a joy and pride that come from pushing yourself to another level or across a new frontier. A life devoted only to the present — to feeling good in the now — is unlikely to deliver real fulfillment. The present moment by itself it too small, too hollow. We all need a future. Something beyond and greater than our own present gratification, at which to aim or feel we’ve contributed.”
“That’s why I liked the Suzuki method of teaching piano. There are seven books, and everybody has to start with Book One. Each book includes ten to fifteen songs, and you have to go in order. Kids who practice hard get assigned new songs each week, whereas kids who don’t practice get stuck on the same song for weeks, even months, and sometimes just quit because they’re bored out of their minds.”
- Born: Champaign, Illinois, The United States.
- Description: Amy L. Chua (born 1962) is the John M. Duff, Jr. Professor of Law at Yale Law School. She joined the Yale faculty in 2001 after teaching at Duke Law School. Prior to starting her teaching career, she was a corporate law associate at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. She specializes in the study of international business transactions, law and development, ethnic conflict, and globalization and the law. As of January 2011, she is most noted for her parenting memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.