Amy Chua, Yale law professor and self-proclaimed “Tiger Mom,” caused controversy when her article detailing her strict parenting style came out in the Wall Street Journal in 2011. Growing up, her daughters were not allowed to watch TV, play computer games, or choose their own extracurricular activities. They were expected to get nothing less than straight As and practice music for hours on a daily basis without any praise until they’d mastered something.
Critics of Chua’s high-pressured parenting methods said it would be harmful to her kids, causing them anxiety and depression. And in fact, research shows that controlling parents are more likely to have obese, stressed-out children.
So how did Chua’s kids turn out five years later? Quite well, apparently. According to a Jan. 17 profile of Chua’s daughters, Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, 23, and Lulu, 19, by The Telegraph: “Both [of] her daughters are so polite, modest and thoughtful, it seems Amy has had the last laugh at the critics who predicted they would grow up into mentally ill, friendless robots.”
Sophia received an undergraduate degree at Harvard University and is now a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, while working toward a graduate law degree at Yale University, according to the profile. Lulu is in her second year studying art history at Harvard. Although both daughters felt the pressure to succeed and practice music religiously, they told The Telegraph that they also felt supported by their parents.
“Everyone talks about my mother threatening to throw my toys on the fire, but the funny thing is that was not a major memory,” Sophia said. “I remember my childhood as happy,”
Sophia added: “I am not scared of my mom and never have been. It was my dad [law professor Jed Rubenfeld] who I was much more afraid of disappointing. It was always unequivocally clear in my mind that my parents were on my side, no matter what. They did have high expectations of me, but because they had the confidence that I could do amazing things.”
Amy Chua, left, with her daughters (photo: AP Photo)
Lulu, however, admits that it wasn’t always easy being under her mom’s iron fist. “I think I had a tough childhood, but a happy one,” she said. “I was playing up to six hours of violin a day and it was too much. However, when I rebelled because it was putting too much of a strain on me, my mom could easily have given up on me. If I did poorly [on] a test, she did not let me lie in bed and wallow. She’d tell me I needed to get up and study to get a better mark so I would feel better. She pushed me when I needed it.”
Sophia said that not every parent should necessarily follow in her mom’s path, but that there are good lessons to learn from Chua’s approach and high expectations. “I don’t think what we should take from tiger parenting that every kid needs to become a violin prodigy or get into Harvard,” she said. “But when it comes to smaller issues like, ‘You won’t get every toy you want until your grades improve,’ or ‘You can’t quit the team because you lost two games in a row,’ then I believe tiger parenting does have its place.”
(Top photo: Corbis Images)