Mère tigre ou mère éléphant ?

MELBOURNE – Il y a de nombreuses années de ça, ma femme et moi étions en voiture, avec nos trois jeunes fillettes assises à l’arrière. L’une d’entre elles nous a soudain demandé : « Est-ce que vous préféreriez que nous soyons intelligentes ou que nous soyons heureuses ? ».

Cet épisode m’est revenu en mémoire le mois dernier à la lecture de l’article d’Amy Chua publié dans le Wall Street Journal, « Pourquoi les mères chinoises sont supérieures », qui a provoqué plus de 4000 réponses sur le site du quotidien et plus de 100.000 commentaires sur Facebook. L’article visait à promouvoir le livre de Chua, L’hymne de bataille d’une mère tigre, qui est devenu un best-seller du jour au lendemain.

L’argument de Chua est que, comparé aux enfants américains, les enfants chinois réussissent mieux parce leurs mères sont des « tigresses » tandis que les mères occidentales sont indulgentes, ou pire. Les filles de Chua, Sophia et Louise, n’ont jamais eu le doit de regarder la télévision, de jouer à des jeux électroniques, de dormir chez des amies ou de prendre part au groupe de théâtre de l’école. Elles étaient forcées de jouer au piano et au violon, plusieurs heures chaque jour, et devaient obtenir les meilleures notes à l’école, dans tous les domaines sauf la gym et le théâtre.

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