Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Avoiding Chua style parenting

Written by: on May 30, 2015

I must admit that I did not get a lot out of this week’s reading. Amy Chua had some good points in her book, Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother[1]. I agree with her that you should hold your children to high standards.


Chua stated that, “the Chinese mother believes that:

  1. Schoolwork always comes first
  2. An A-minus is a bad grade
  3. Your children must be two years ahead of their classmates in math
  4. You must never compliment your children in public
  5. If your child ever disagrees with the teacher or coach, you must always take the side of teacher or coach
  6. The only activities your children should be permitted to do are those in which they can eventually win a medal and that medal must be gold.[2]


American parents would benefit their children if they employed some of the strategies that Asian cultures use to motivate their kids, such as limiting TV, video games, and too many school activities that are not beneficial to their education or well being.


My problem with how Chua raised her children is that it did not foster self-esteem or emotional well being, nor is it biblically focused. I will agree that it appears that she did follow the principle of Proverbs 23:13-14, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death.” However, discipline is only one a small part in raising a child, and God only used it to correct behavior or punish sin. Chua used discipline to instill fear into her children and force them to comply with her way.


Chua stated that you should always side with the teacher or coach over your children. [3] In my opinion and personal experience, the teacher is not always right. In fifth grade, my son’s teacher did not treat him fairly and seemed to be out to get him. She picked on him and lied to us about his schoolwork and was overall not a nice person to him. So, always siding with the teacher is not only wrong it can be harmful to the child. Today, my son is in high school and has brought up the fact that his Mom and Dad had to take care of that teacher that was mean to him. We have instilled that we are family, and as such we protect each other. This doesn’t mean we don’t check out the situation and let our children pull the wool over our eyes, but it means we get to know our children well enough to know when others aren’t being truthful about them.


As far as I am concerned, Chua’s views were predisposed towards the way she wants to do things. Just because you get results with the way you do something, does not make it the best way to achieve your goal. God created each one of us different, and it is this difference that should be cherished and encouraged in our children.


[1] Amy Chua, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (New York: Penguin Books, 2011).

[2] Amy Chua, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (New York: Penguin Books, 2011) p. 5

[3] Amy Chua, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (New York: Penguin Books, 2011) p. 5Chua

About the Author

Richard Volzke

9 responses to “Avoiding Chua style parenting”

  1. Richard,

    I am curious if you read the entire book. Chua does compromise her position at the end of the story. Personally, I loved the book and couldn’t put it down. I am, however, glad at the way it ended. I do agree with you that we are all individuals and that we should each be treated uniquely. But I also think that having high expectation does have a tendency to yield high results, so much of what Chua says is worth our consideration. Finally, you mention “Biblically focused” parenting. So just what does that look like? I would appreciate more of your thoughts on this. Thanks.

    • Richard Volzke says:

      I did read the book and you are correct Chua seems to change her position towards the end of the book. But, I am not convinced that Chua has change the way she thinks. She seems to puts down American culture and the way we raise our kids. Biblically focused parenting (looking at it from a 30,000 view), is raising your children to fear the Lord, love and respect all individuals, helping your children to find Gods calling on their life, and identifying their areas of giftedness. Dawnel and I have always encouraged our children to be what God has called them to be. It is more important to us that they are pursing Christ than perfection, however we find that they are more than succeeding as Christ gives them high abilities to fulfill the work He has them to do.

  2. Liz Linssen says:

    Hi Richard,
    Thank you for your post.
    I do think that Chua went too far, but there is certainly something to be learned from her passion and hard work in pushing her children. I know here in wales, that we have the opposite problem – not pushing children much at all. Somewhere we have to find the right balance that produces successful children who are loved for who they are. May God give us wisdom.

    • Richard Volzke says:

      Agreed, we need to have a balance when raising our children. I think if we focused on helping our kids seek Christ and His plan and will for their lives, it would go a long way in helping parents find that balance you speak of.

  3. John Woodward says:

    Richard, I always appreciate your thoughts! You always tell it like it is! My first take on the book was pretty much like your take…but by the end, I was beginning to see how much Chua was struggling to find a middle ground between cultures that she was stuck in the middle of! I often thought of Stefania and others in our cohort that are having to deal with their families from a different culture on the one side and their new world their kids are growing up in on the other! For that reason, I took it more as a cultural study, that might be helpful for missionary workers as they have to seek lives in new cultures (especially if they have children). As I mentioned in my post, I would have been miserable with Chua for my mother…yes, I think she went too far for my tastes! But try looking at the book less about parenting and more about the clash of cultures, makes it a lot more fun read!

    • Ashley Goad says:

      John, Stefania was on the fore-front of my mind, too! I wonder how she would compare and contrast the parenting styles in Romania versus Korea versus USA? Wow, the stories she could tell. It may be a book much like this!

    • Richard Volzke says:

      I understand what you are saying, but I believe that one way to understand a culture is look at how they raise their children. The pressure that Chua put on her kids to be perfect was not right. According to World Health Organization figures, rates of suicide in South Korea doubled to 21.9 deaths per 100,000 people between 1996 and 2006. Kids and young people are killing themselves because of the pressure that is placed on them. I think that every culture needs to take a balanced approach. I am not sure if or how this could be done, but we can’t overlook these things when harm is happening to many people.

  4. Telile Fikru Badecha says:

    Thank you for insights! I agree with others comments above. Like Bill, I did enjoy reading Chua’s book because it introduced me to Chinese culture and family values. I think her story can be used as a great case study to understand the American-Chinese parenting challenges. I would agree with you, “God created each one of us different, and it is this difference that should be cherished and encouraged in our children.” I think we should do the same when we encounter with other cultures way of parenting or leading ministry.

  5. Richard Volzke says:

    Like I said to Bill, I agree with both of you that the way Chinese culture raises their children does have value. The issue is the pressure that many parents put on their kids to be perfect. Perfection can only come through Christ and doing God’s will for each one of us. I say this with much agreement with the way many Asian families raise their own children, as our own parenting style is to set very high standards. But, I believe Chua’s example is extreme.

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