Chinese ‘Tiger Mom’ Defends Harsh Schedule for Son
In 2011, Yale law professor Amy Chua became a polarizing figure with her book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” which sets forth an astonishingly strict program of parental discipline.
Now, a real life “tiger mom” in China has published online the timetable she subjects her 9-year-old son to every day.
In response to comments expressing outrage, she defended the rigorous 16-hour routine.
“Some people think I am sick, but I’ve since discussed it with my former classmates at Peking University, and they all think this is quite normal,” said Mrs. Liu, a resident of Nan’an District in Chongqing, reported state-run media Xinhua on March 3.
According to the schedule, Mrs. Liu’s son has a daily 5 a.m. reveille. By 6 a.m. he should be reading ancient Chinese literature. He then goes to school—but when he gets home, his learning continues nonstop until 10 p.m. Bed time is set at 11 p.m.
On weekdays, the 9-year-old has extra English lessons in the evenings. During the weekends, there’s piano lessons, Chinese calligraphy, taekwondo, swimming, Weiqi practice (Weiqi, or Go, is a Chinese strategy board game), Latin dancing and additional mathematic exercises to prepare for the International Mathematical Olympiad.
The only “break” that Mrs. Liu has allocated her son is a 30 minutes slot in the evening to watch Xinwen Lianbo, the Communist Party’s flagship news program.
Mrs. Liu, a 30 year-old former graduate of the prestigious Peking University, explained: “It is important that children have a sense of time and self-discipline. Actually, this was how I was brought up; my father was in the military, and he too raised me this way.”
Liu added that all the learning she makes her son go through has practical applications: for example, writing Chinese calligraphy is meant to help her son temper his character, while piano and dancing lessons are supposed to aid him in future courtships.
As for the criticism that her child might not be getting enough sleep, Mrs. Liu said that six hours is plenty, and that her son never dozes off in school. She welcomes other parents to follow her parenting method since “people can adjust their biological clock.”
“To have an easier future, it’s better to have a tougher childhood,” Mrs. Liu said. “My father once said that learning is all that children should do! Otherwise, society will weed them out.”
Chinese Internet users are generally very critical of Mrs. Liu’s methods. In the comments section of Chinese web portal Sina, a netizen from Shandong wrote that Mrs. Liu probably “has a mental illness that requires treatment at the hospital,” while another netizen from Zhejiang asked her to stop pushing her kid to “satisfy her own vanity.”
One netizen from Sichuan said that Mrs. Liu forcing her child to “watch Xinwen Lianbo every day really takes the cake.” The news program has been heavily criticized as blatant propaganda.
“The poor kid doesn’t have a childhood,” wrote a netizen from Fujian. Another netizen from Shandong wrote: “This is the sorrow of modern education in China!”