I recently forwarded this NYT article, Item: Sisters Think Parents Did O.K., to a few friends, who in part responded with a cool as a cucumber response, "This is such b.s." while another ranted, "WHAT?!?!??!?> Fuck aplfidhj alkjfhas liyhg 09uepwier q umda09w8yt40wyufpzjUF(P"#UR Popishf osaeh foahic '!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
The article describes a book that two sisters wrote called, Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers - and How You Can Too although I would have went with How to successfully eradicate your kids' childhood and win hardened hearts and deepfelt resentment from them but it's all ok because they're now professionals and you have plastic-y names of top-ranked schools on the rear window of your car and their salaries and their future children to look forward to.
I obviously veered toward the ranting end and then took a sharp turn at imagined violence. If I ever encounter these sweet, obedient, highly successful ladies in a dark alley with my gang of bums, writers, and artists, we will throw our Apple computers (real bummy) and empty wallets and fascinating personalities and stupid existential despair and fucking careless joie de vivre and passion straight at their well-kept heads and mess.up.their.hair. WATCH OUT.
These Korean American sisters belong to that phenomenal class of people that are the children of Asian immigrants. They got candy bars for reading books. They spent hours studying and were allowed little tv, little friend-time, little life. They played piano, won prizes. They were JUST LIKE ME, except I never got candy for reading books. I read them anyway. And I became the biggest bestest liar on earth. Anyways, the older one is a doctor and married to an orthopedic surgeon. The younger, originally more rebellious, wanted to be a writer, but eventually headed off to law school and is now an immigrations specialist in Philly. In response to nipping the writer dream, the younger Kim says she's happy and that "American parents will say, 'Do whatever makes you happy, even if the talent isn't there'...You need a reality check." What a fucking presumptuous and narrow-minded thing to say, deciding for others the definition of happiness and its intersection with reality, that one isn't smart enough or self-aware enough to realize in time what is within reach and what is reaching too far.
The book may be cutting down the stereotype that As. Ams are just a naturally smart and nerdy peoples... but adds little value in that vein. We sure are hard-working. We sure are obedient. It seems like a book that merely prescribes their definition of success and though that's all I imagine any sort of self-help or child-improvement advice offered in print is really supposed to do - the idea that such-and-such method worked for me, so it should work for you! Whee! – it is offering a school of thought that I think are very often borne out of a strange sort of smallness and limits. A place that emphasizes name, appearance, and material wealth as a sign of happy security and is rooted in parents who sacrifice so much, questionably too much, erasing parts of themselves, their own potentials, to place the heavy weight of their hopes on their children instead.
I don't care that the Kim sisters chose the lives they did. And though the book is aimed at a certain niche, I don't have faith in the kind of word which they are attempting to spread. And from the article's inclusion of stats like the percentage of Asians at top universities and higher household incomes, it seems that the book's potential audience is not the parents of kids who are doing poorly but those whose philosophies line up snugly with the sisters. The professional life! The scrubs, the suit and tie, and the big name schools, they set their little ones up for life, the ticket to please, run past GO and don't forget to collect your $$$. (No matter that less eminent schools can offer a good education.)
I had even more to say.. will add later.