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My Chinese Mom: A Superstar’s Secret Weapon « Jocelyn Wong's Blog


My Chinese Mom: A Superstar’s Secret Weapon

there was a brief period of time when I was actually smaller than my sister, who has almost 2yrs on me. And holy crap, I think my mom is like our current age in this photo (29 or 30??)

It’s my mom’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom! Since I am broke as usual and she doesn’t like me spending money that I don’t actually have, especially not on her, tonight I will write a blog for her. About Chinese moms.

So I’ve talked before about how I was a good little nerd in high school and how I got into every college I applied to. Yesterday I was watching the movie “The Perfect Score” for the first time, about six kids who try to steal the answers to the SAT’s. There was one line in it that made me LOL. Like ROFLMAO. One guy asks “Who scores the highest on the test?” and the stoned Asian boy replies “Asian chicks. Middle-class asian girls who watch less than an hour of television a day. They can’t drive, but they can kick the sh*t out of the SAT.”

Yes. That was me. My friend Lawrence sent me a link to a fabulously controversial Wall Street Journal article that was published last weekend, titled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.” As I sat reading it, at once both mesmerized and highly entertained by each paragraph that rang true, I came to a better understanding of why my parents brought us up the way they did and how it has crossed over to my non-academic life…and actually…yes, right into triathlon superstardom.

As I write this there are nearly 4000 comments on this article online, most of them from angry and enraged (and mostly white?) readers and parents who are appalled at this parental behavior. Ah, whatevs. It was normal to me. I had many other Asian friends, and of course all my cousins, some with parents that were much less strict, and some that were even worse. You know what my coach would call these enraged readers? Typical soft-cock Americans. ;)

Anyway, here are some of my favorite passages…

On Chinese moms being blunt:

“The fact is that Chinese parents can do things that would seem unimaginable—-even legally actionable—-to Westerners. Chinese mothers can say to their daughters, ‘Hey fatty—lose some weight.’ By contrast, Western parents have to tiptoe around the issue, talking in terms of ‘health’ and never ever mentioning the f-word, and their kids still end up in therapy for eating disorders and negative self-image.”

On getting straight A’s:

“…Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight As. Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best. Chinese parents can say, ‘You’re lazy. All your classmates are getting ahead of you.’ By contrast, Western parents have to struggle with their own conflicted feelings about achievement, and try to persuade themselves that they’re not disappointed about how their kids turned out.

…For example, if a child comes home with an A-minus on a test, a Western parent will most likely praise the child. The Chinese mother will gasp in horror and ask what went wrong. If the child comes home with a B on the test, some Western parents will still praise the child. …If a Chinese child gets a B–which would never happen—-there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion…

…Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn’t get them, the Chinese parent assumes it’s because the child didn’t work hard enough. That’s why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child. The Chinese parent believes that their child will be strong enough to take the shaming and to improve from it.”

On not being “allowed” to date or even just hang out at the mall with friends in high school:

“…Chinese parents believe that they know what is best for their children and therefore override all of their children’s own desires and preferences. That’s why Chinese daughters can’t have boyfriends in high school and why Chinese kids can’t go to sleepaway camp.”

I was soooo psyched when I finally convinced my mom to let me go to band camp the summer before 8th grade. Yes, I played the flute, and no…I didn’t end up getting to go to band camp. I got the chicken pox instead. You have NO idea how absolutely shattered I was that I didn’t get to go, and of course learning years later when watching American Pie what really went on at band camp…. Well. I sadly don’t have any “this one time at band camp” stories and this probably explains why I was (am?) such a late bloomer.

And then the conclusion and explanation for all of it:

“…the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they’re capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.”

Huh. When I finished reading this I had a striking revelation:


Aha! That is how I survived all those training camps and continue to thrive under his coaching. I was not one of them typical lazy American softcocks because of my Chinese upbringing. Apparently Mom has prepared me well for the world of pro triathlon, i.e. the Brett Sutton world of pro triathlon. :)

I want to go into more detail but this is getting long enough and I’m feeling a bit brain-dead from today’s big training. So expect to see a Chinese Moms Part II when I’m feeling more alert.

Happy Birthday, Momma Wongstar! Love ya! :D

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