A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereo-typically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do toproduce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s likeinside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tellthem, because I’ve done it. Here are some things my daughters,Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:• attend a sleepover• have a playdate• be in a school play• complain about not being in a school play• watch TV or play computer games• choose their own extracurricular activities• get any grade less than an A• not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama• play any instrument other than the piano or violin• not play the piano or violin.I’m using the term “Chinese mother” loosely. I recently met asupersuccessful white guy from South Dakota (you’ve seen him ontelevision), and after comparing notes we decided that hisworking-class father had definitely been a Chinese mother. I knowsome Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish, and Ghanaian parents whoqualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage,almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers, bychoice or otherwise.I’m also using the term “Western parents” loosely. Westernparents come in all varieties. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and saythat Westerners are far more diverse in their parenting stylesthan the Chinese. Some Western parents are strict; others are lax.There are same-sex parents, Orthodox Jewish parents, singleparents, ex-hippie parents, investment banker parents, andmilitary parents. None of these “Western” parents necessarily seeeye to eye, so when I use the term “Western parents,” of courseI’m not referring to all Western parents—just as “Chinesemother” doesn’t refer to all Chinese mothers.All the same, even when Western parents think they’re beingstrict, they usually don’t come close to being Chinese mothers.For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strictmake their children practice their instruments thirty minutesevery day. An hour at most. For a Chinese mother, the first hour isthe easy part. It’s hours two and three that get tough.Despite our squeamishness about cultural stereotypes, there aretons of studies out there showing marked and quantifiabledifferences between Chinese and Westerners when it comes toparenting. In one study of 50 Western American mothers and 48Chinese immigrant mothers, almost 70% of the Western motherssaid either that “stressing academic success is not good forchildren” or that “parents need to foster the idea that learning isfun.” By contrast, roughly 0% of the Chinese mothers felt thesame way. Instead, the vast majority of the Chinese mothers saidthat they believe their children can be “the best” students, that“academic achievement reflects successful parenting,” and that ifchildren did not excel at school then there was “a problem” andparents “were not doing their job.” Other studies indicate thatcompared to Western parents, Chinese parents spendapproximately ten times as long every day drilling academicactivities with their children. By contrast, Western kids are morelikely to participate in sports teams.This brings me to my final point. Some might think that theAmerican sports parent is an analog to the Chinese mother. This isso wrong. Unlike your typical Western overscheduling soccermom, the Chinese mother believes that (1) schoolwork alwayscomes first; (2) an A-minus is a bad grade; (3) your children mustbe two years ahead of their classmates in math; (4) you mustnever compliment your children in public; (5) if your child everdisagrees with a teacher or coach, you must always take the sideof the teacher or coach; (6) the only activities your children shouldbe permitted to do are those in which they can eventually win amedal; and (7) that medal must be gold.