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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lessons from the Tiger Mom

My apologies to you sixteen loyal readers of this blog. Undoubtedly, I’ve been a bit remiss in writing. Between nursing headaches (weather fronts wreaking havoc in the cornbelt), not dusting the house, and resolving to be a diligent organizer of tax receipts in 2011; apparently, I’ve also been ruining my kids by coddling them. Anyone heard of Amy Chua, aka, The Tiger Mom? If you haven’t, you might want to join the discussion. It’s great fun. Check out these two disparate point of views if you're so inclined: Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior and In Defense of the Guilty, Ambivalent, Preoccupied Western Mom  These are GREAT articles, so if you don't have time, save for later... (BTW, remind me to take lessons on book publicity from Amy C.)

The Chinese Mother. Pushing her kids to relentless practice of math and music to achieve excellence clearly beyond the American couch potato. But is it too much? (Statistics say suicide rates among the Chinese teens run highest.) But who can't help but be a bit envious of the over-achievers? They’re like, so smart. And good at stuff. Ms. Chua argues that perhaps Westerners spend too much time working with their kids on things like “sports.” Hmmm. I don't even fit the typical Westerner mold. As I read her article, I, of course, was wondering how my kids would fare in a Chinese household. But now I know they'd barely make it in a typical Western household either! They'd be like "Practice shooting baskets? Why?" As a matter of fact, a request to unload the dishwasher seems to be grounds for calling 911. I could just see it. "We have a possible child abuse case on our hands. The mom just ordered the Pots and Pan cycle." Gheesh.

The bottom line is - it's tough, no matter if you're a Tiger Mom, or a domesticated tabby cat. You want your kids to be their best, so you tend to push. The question of the hour - how hard? I, myself, have looked at my daughter in askance* for receiving a minus on an "A." Maybe it's just because I see her doing things like posting comments on Facebook...while working on a tough math assignment. Those are the times my Tiger comes out. But I must admit, more often than not, it's the kitten that comes out...because gosh, that's how I was raised.

I love how my friend Amy, mother to FIVE, explains her mothering skills to her eldest child when she complains of a particular injustice that doesn't seem to come down to the younger siblings. "Don't you see, Lexi? I'm not gonna screw up the younger kids." That's good stuff.

Here's a revelation: Parents aren't perfect. Whether you push your kid to be the best soccer player in the world, study spelling words with them until midnight for six months out of year, or you let them achieve the highest levels in Assassin's Creed, who cares? I truly believe, that the very best we can do, at any time, for any reason, is love your kids with all your heart. Period. I think Amy Chua would agree with that.
Happy kids. Tired dog.

*See my son Cole for this definition.

1 comment:

rah said...

It's not knowledge or the greatest specific skill that a parent can give his child. It is wisdom.

I guess even if your son is the greatest speller in the world, if he can't make sense of this in his life it would be meaningless.

At the end of the day, it is the love, the bond, the trust, and faith, and the fulfillment that comes with it that really counts, not being the tiger mom, or the tiger kid.