I was excited when I saw an article titled: “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” featured on the Wall Street Journal’s website. I am a Chinese mother, and I would like to know why I am superior. To my dismay, the author’s idea of a superior mom sported a murderous appetite for terrorizing her children’s childhood. To make matter worse, the author took it upon herself to represent the rest of us Chinese mothers with her parenting style that she self proclaimed to be “superior.”

Asian mothers as a whole deserve some of our stereotypical reputation as parents. Yes, we do care about our children’s academic success a great deal. In practice, I don’t know any Chinese parents who subjected their children remotely close to the same rigorous regime subscribed to by the author–and I know a lot of ambitious Chinese mothers.

Superior parenting does not demand that our children achieve honors and awards to help us feel good about ourselves. Superior parenting is about love and selflessness. It’s a willingness to make huge sacrifices to ensure that our children can live better lives than the lives we had. Many Chinese parents are willing to make that sacrifice, making them truly deserving of “superior.”

I spent my early years in China, where my mother was a high school math teacher, a highly respected profession. And my father was a civil Engineer, having graduated from Tsinghua University, the equivalent of Harvard in China. Unfortunately, my parents failed to pass along their smart genes onto me. I was a happy, but dim-witted child. I wasn’t a bad student, just a solid “B” student throughout my grade-school academic career. This meant that I wasn’t going to get into the best junior high school in our city, and therefore I wasn’t going to get into the best high school, and I had no chance of going to college. At a tender age, my parents already saw that I was doomed to a life of blue collar abyss in China.

In the early 1980’s my parents moved the whole family to America. They were already both in their mid 40’s, and did not speak English. They quickly settled into blue-collar jobs themselves so that I and my sister could have the opportunity to go to universities in America.

My mother’s first job was working as a seamstress in a clothing factory in downtown Los Angeles. Except she wasn’t even a real seamstress, she wasn’t skilled in such work–she had been a math teacher. Her job was to use a pair of scissors, stand in rows and rows of freshly made clothes, and find and cut off any lingering threads the seamstresses left hanging at the end of their stitches.

My father found work at a skanky motel in a scary part of town in L.A. My father was a hardworking man, he didn’t just sit behind the supposedly bullet proof window to collect money from their motel guests, he also fixed anything that was broken at the motel, which was often. My father was handy and resourceful. In a matter of couple of years, the motel boss made my father a partner in the motel business, and in a matter of couple of years more, my father became a partner in three motels. Both of my parents worked in the motel business by then, and our financial situation improved. But I noted that their way of making a buck was very hard.

Their motels were frequented by druggies, prostitutes, and unfriendly policeman. One of the motel’s outside walls was painted with graffiti every night, and everyday, first thing in the morning, my father took a bucket of paint to paint over the graffiti. My parents had suffered a number of armed robberies and one dangerous episode of physical assault at their business over the years. But their shabby motel business provided for both me and my sister to graduate from University of California schools debt free in four years.

As I reflected back on my own parents, I wondered if the author of “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior” would even consider giving up her awesome career if her children needed her help, given that her idea of a “superior” mother seemed completely self serving. The author felt entitled to deny her children their precious childhood in order to mold her children into the prodigies that she desired, because of the antiquated Chinese belief that the children owe the parents their life. Sure, I know two or three Chinese mothers in real life who share the notion that their children owe them their lives, and these mothers are all currently serving as some sorry souls’ much detested, evil mother-in-law!

I was never made to feel that I owe my parents my life, and I still don’t. Instead, they made me feel that I have been entitled to their sacrifices because I am their child. I am incredibly grateful to my parents, because I have the genuine superior Chinese parents, whose parental love is selfless.

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