Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tiger Mothers, or why you probably shouldn't say your parenting style is superior to all others and not expect backlash.

So this woman writes a book about Chinese mothers, who basically sound like the drill sargeants of parenthood, and whose advice included forcing your child to practice violin or piano three hours a day, not allowing play dates or sleepovers, insisting they get all As, and berating them for pretty much anything, is all over the news defending herself lately.  Surprisingly, being called inferior mothers by a woman who makes beating your child only occasionally seem compassionate upsets some people.

I love how she seems surprised, like she expected people to be grateful to her for pointing out that they were raising their children wrong, and immediately start following her tips and demanding that she appear on Oprah.  Or beg her to come to THEIR homes and emotionally and psychologically torment their children, too.

I haven't read the book, and I really don't plan to.  I have heard this woman on the radio a lot and I can tell from her tone that if she and I were to meet, five minutes into the conversation I'd want to smack her.  And that would be true no matter what the conversation topic was, or whether or not I agreed with her.  She has that very smarmy, I-am-not-wrong-you-are-an-idiot tone that professors have (and I believe she is a professor at Yale).

But from what I can gather she talks about the strict way Chinese parents traditionally raise their children, and how success is so important, and how her daughter played Carnegie Hall at 13 or something and that's why she's better than you.  (I don't know what she's going to say when that same daughter snaps and tries to kill her in her sleep.)  It's brought up some fun  memories from my childhood.  My mom was nowhere near the level of crazy that this woman sounds, but she was very strict, had very high standards for us, and was not into silly things like emotions.  She was raised in a pretty crappy style, though, and I know she did the best she could.  Even so, she was hard on us, particularly my sister and I.  I think that was partially because she wanted us to be able to handle whatever life threw at us, and to be tough.  I like to think we both are, but at some point don't you need to give a kid a break?  It took me til after college to realize that not being great at something was ok, and that if I truly hated something I didn't really have to do it.  I mean, my mom made me play softball.  I have a congenital visual problem.  What was she thinking?  And for the love of God, again I ask that nobody show her this blog or I'll never hear the end of it.

Really, what good does it do if your kid is the smartest and the best piano player but has no idea how to have fun, or how to live life without being constantly corralled?  I ran into that problem, too.  When I got to college and my every moment wasn't monitored and scheduled, I really had no idea what to do with myself.  I couldn't manage my own time or realize how much time I should put into my work, or even what I should study.  I did, however, devote plenty of time to drinking beer and talking to people, two things that I didn't do that much of in my younger years.  I'm just figuring out what I want out of my professional life now, and I'm thirty-one years old.

So maybe Henry won't be the valedictorian or a violin virtuoso.  He'll do well in school, maybe he'll take karate or play a sport he really likes.  He won't sit in front of a TV or play video games all day.  But I like to think he won't be that weird kid that can't talk to other kids, and I like to think that while he may hate me at various points in his life, that at the end of the day he'll realize I did what I thought was best, and know that I loved him every day of his life.  I will never run him down or tell him he's worthless because he didn't meet some impossible expectation  And if he doesn't realize that I was an OK mom, I'll make him read this chick's book and be grateful I'm not like her.

Seriously, what are the odds on those two girls either beating her to death or going to college and turning into huge drunken sluts and never talking to their mother again?

1 comment:

  1. Know what I'm finding most challenging? Being consistent. Right now The Babe's room is a pit of despair and it's like she's taking a dump all over everything I do for her when she doesn't take care of her stuff. And as much as I try to impose a NO SCREEN TIME UNTIL IT'S CLEAN dictum, I will most assuredly get tired of the whining and nagging and attitude and some other grownup will tell me I'm too strict and then I'll feel bad and we'll end up on the sofa painting our toenails while watching iCarly after dinner one day this week.

    I don't know. So why would I even impose such a rule when I know it's just going to fail? I guess it's more important to keep trying to be good, no matter what age.