Amy Chua’s Tiger Mom Has Jewish Moms Ready for Battle

Amy Chua’s excerpt from “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” printed last week in the Wall Street Journal, has mothers everywhere up in arms, and perhaps no one more so than Jewish mothers, who thought they had a lock on producing over achievers motivated by gigantic filial guilt trips.

Chua—” title=”writing on the Huffington Pos” target=”_blank”>writing on the Huffington Post, notes that there’s a difference between the Chinese mother’s hair-pulling and shrieking and the Jewish mother’s passive-aggressive guilt.

Chua says that Chinese moms don’t mince words when it comes to their children’s appearance either. They can say, “Hey fatty—lose some weight.”

The Jewish mom would more likely kvell over her daughter than insult her, no matter how fat she had become.

“You are too gorgeous, but maybe you want me to get you a gym membership,” a Jewish mom would say.

The f-word would never enter the conversation. While Chua describes Chinese moms in almost pathological terms, the Jewish-mom style is decidedly more passive aggressive.

“Why don’t we go study for your spelling test now?” I say to my son.

“Can you please get your math review sheets? Let’s make sure you get 100 percent on your quiz!” I say in my best bubbly, you-can-do-it voice.

We frame demands in pleasant questions. Really what we mean is, “Go study now, and I want you to get straight As and a National Merit Scholarship that gets you into Harvard.” We just message it differently.



Writing in the ” title=”David Brooks calls Chua a wimp” target=”_blank”> David Brooks calls Chua a wimp, saying she is letting her daughters off easy when it comes to training for real life skills:

Practicing a piece of music for four hours requires focused attention, but it is nowhere near as cognitively demanding as a sleepover with 14-year-old girls. Managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, navigating the distinction between self and group — these and other social tests impose cognitive demands that blow away any intense tutoring session or a class at Yale.