Amy Chua Responds to 'Chinese Mothers' Controversy

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Author Amy Chua, who was embroiled on controversy last week after the Wall Street Journal published excerpts of her book in an article titled "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior," has responded to Ayelet Waldman's essay championing a more relaxed approach to parenting, which was published in yesterday's Wall Street Journal.

Speaking with ABC News today, Chua reiterated that her book is not a how-to guide to parenting, but a memoir on her experience as a parent, while she praised Waldman's essay and skills as a mother.

"I thought it was a terrific piece, incredibly thoughtful and gracious," Chua said.

"My book is a memoir, not a parenting book! I think there are many ways to raise great kids. From what I can tell, Ayelet Waldman's kids are interesting, strong, and happy, and if that's the case, that's good parenting," she added.

The controversy over Chua's book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," heated up further on Saturday when Waldman, a Jewish author and mother, responded with her essay, entitled "In Defense of the Guilty, Ambivalent, Preoccupied Western Mom."

Waldman's essay humorously outlines differences between what she sees as the lackadaisical approach taken by western mothers and the strict regimen Chinese mothers use on their children that Chua discusses.

The first Wall Street Journal piece, which took excerpts from Chua's parenting memoir "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," ignited a heated debate across the Internet, with critics claiming that the book advocates abusive parenting, while others asserted that it will lead to xenophobia and feed China haters.

Aided by the controversy, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" reached the No. 6 slot in the Amazon sales rankings on Tuesday, the day it was released.

In her response to Chua's piece, Waldman, author of "The Mommy-Track Mysteries" series of novels and the wife of best-selling novelist Michael Chabon, jokingly tells of allowing her children to quit the piano and the violin to spare her from attending boring recitals while letting them sleep over at their friend's houses to save money on babysitters.

Yet her tone gets more serious when she describes how she let her daughter know her disappointment when her report card didn't have straight-As -- though this was without the "screaming, hair-tearing explosion" that Chua described in a similar situation.

"The difference between Ms. Chua and me, I suppose -- between proud Chinese mothers and ambivalent Western ones -- is that I felt guilty about having berated my daughter for failing to deliver the report card I expected," Waldman wrote. "I was ashamed at my reaction."

Waldman, 46, goes on to describe how her daughter Rosie overcame mild dyslexia and learned to read using a special intensive reading program that she was not pressured by her parents into taking, but chose to struggle through on her own.

Rosie's struggle and ability to overcome her dyslexia on her own left her parents "stunned with pride," Waldman says.

Speaking with ABC News yesterday, Waldman, who is also the author of the memoir "Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace," told of her reaction to Chua's Wall Street Journal piece and the fact that every author need to remain accountable for what they write.

"I think it's important when you write something like this that you own all parts of it. Having gone through my own trial of fire with the media on motherhood issues … You can't back away from it. You can say this is me, this is what I wrote, but if you want to get the whole story, buy the book," Waldman said.

"You don't see her journey [in the Wall Street Journal piece], you don't see her transformation. I think there's surely more to the story there," Waldman said.

Meanwhile, Chua, 48, responded to and clarified what the Wall Street Journal published.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Chua stated that the Wall Street Journal's article strung together the most controversial sections of her book and failed to highlight that the book is a memoir about a personal journey of motherhood.

"I was very surprised," she told the Chronicle's Jeff Yang. "They didn't even hint that the book is about a journey, and that the person at beginning of the book is different from the person at the end -- that I get my comeuppance and retreat from this very strict Chinese parenting model."

"I'm not going to retract my statements about Chinese parenting. But I'd also note that I'm aware now of the limitations of that model -- that it doesn't incorporate enough choice.

"I now believe there's a hybrid way of parenting that combines the two paradigms, but it took me making a lot of mistakes along the way to get there," said Chua.

Waldman's point of view on parenting, it turns out, is actually somewhat similar to where Chua landed after her parenting journey.

"Sometimes when I try to use a stern attitude -- 'I'm your mother and you will do what I say' -- it doesn't work as much. Sometimes I provide as much emotional support as I can -- and sometimes that works.

"I sort of throw everything that I can at the problem, and hope that something will work out," Waldman told ABC News.

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