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Contract between Tiger mum and kids/WSJ(1 Post)
The ‘Tiger Mother’ Has a Contract for Her Cubs
With her adult daughters sharing her New York City apartment for the summer, Amy Chua spelled out precisely what she expected of them
Amy Chua PHOTO: RICK WENNER FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
By AMY CHUA
Updated June 10, 2016 9:42 p.m. ET
I recently had a harrowing parenting experience, which I addressed through recourse to the law.
My daughters Sophia and Lulu are now 23 and 20, and they’re both working in New York City this summer. Their plan is to stay (for free) in our Manhattan apartment—the pied-à-terre that my husband, Jed, and I spent 20 years saving up for.
MORE FROM AMY CHUA
A Week in the Life of the ‘Tiger Mother’ Amy Chua (Jan. 30, 2015)
Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior (Jan. 8, 2011)
I was on the phone with one of my daughters. “I’m so excited to spend some time in New York this summer—so many of my friends are going to be there!” she said happily.
“Me too!” I said. “I can’t wait.”
“Wait—what?” she said. “You’re going to be in the apartment too?”
“What do you mean am I going to be in the apartment? Of course I’m going to be in the apartment. It’s daddy’s and my apartment.”
“But you live in New Haven.”
My head started to explode.
I suddenly realized that I was on the verge of becoming a tenant farmer in my own life.
Fortunately, I teach contracts law at Yale, and I came up with a solution. I made my daughters sign a contract—totally valid and legally enforceable—the text of which is reproduced below.
WHEREAS Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld are the owners of Apt. [XXX] at [XXX], and their children are not;
WHEREAS Children owe their parents everything, even in the West, where many have conflicted feelings about this;
In exchange for Amy and Jed allowing them to stay in their NYC apartment from June 1, 2016 to August 1, 2016, Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld and Louisa Chua-Rubenfeld agree to the following irrevocable duties and conditions:
1. To occupy only the junior bedroom.
2. To greet Jed Rubenfeld & Amy Chua with spontaneous joy and gratitude whenever they visit.
3. To make their (joint) bed every day, and not to fight about who does it.
4. To never, ever use the phrase, “Relax—it’s not a big deal.”
5. To always leave all internal doors in the apartment wide open whenever Jed, Amy or any company whatsoever (including relatives) are in the apartment, with an immaculately made bed in full view and no clothing or other junk on the floor of the bedroom in sight.
6. Whenever any guests visit, to come out of the bedroom immediately in a respectable state, greet the guests with enthusiasm, and sit and converse with the guests in the living room for at least 15 minutes.
7. To always be kind to our trusty Samoyeds Coco and Pushkin, who Sophia and Louisa hereby agree have greater rights to the apartment than Sophia and Louisa do, and to walk them to the dog park at least once a day when they visit, within 30 minutes of being asked to do so by Amy.
8. To fill the refrigerator with fresh OJ from Fairway for Jed on days when he is in town.
9. To keep the pillows in the living room in the right place and PLUMPED and to clean the glass table with Windex whenever it is used.
ADDITIONALLY, Sophia and Louisa agree that the above duties and conditions will not be excused even in the event of illness, hangovers, migraines, work crises or mental breakdowns (whether their own or their friends’).
Sophia and Louisa agree that if they violate any one of these conditions, Amy and Jed will have the right to get the Superintendent or a doorman to restrain them from entering the apartment; and to change the locks.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have duly executed this agreement.
_____________ Amy Chua
_____________ Jed Rubenfeld
The contract was signed by all four of us and went into legal force two weeks ago, and I can now say with confidence that I highly recommend this approach for parents with grown children—at least in America, a land where the laws and social norms heavily favor children over parents. The last time Jed and I showed up at the apartment, the refrigerator was stocked with orange juice, the master bedroom looked duplicitously unused, and our daughters greeted us with spontaneous joy and gratitude.
The Ultimate Staycation? A Second Home in the Same City (June 2, 2016)
They’re Back! How to Cope With Returned College Grads (July 24, 2015)
Dave Barry: The Greatest (Party) Generation (Feb. 26, 2015)
Why Children Need Chores (March 13, 2015)
The fact is, we’re never off the hook as parents. Even when your kids are in their 20s, it’s still a constant balancing act. Are we asking too much of them or too little? Are we being strong and holding them to a high standard, or just being too critical? Are we teaching them by example how to live a happy, meaningful, giving life?
In the end, of course, all that any of us really wants is to have our babies back, to hold them close and to spend time with them—and to have them want to spend time with us.
Alas, we can’t have their childhood again. But at least we have contracts.
—Ms. Chua is a professor at Yale Law School, author of “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” and co-author of “The Triple Package.”
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