If you haven't read it (or even heard about it), you should read it - it is fascinating and very provocative. It is written by Yale law professor Amy Chua and discusses her "Chinese" philosophy of strict, regimented, no holds-barred parenting. Printed just as her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother hit the bookstores, you could consider it brilliant marketing since all the debate and uproar has shot the book up the bestsellers list. But I think this shake-up is timely in other aspects, too - at least for me. I struggle with how I will approach raising (and homeschooling) my child. So this has given me the opportunity and fodder to examine my own approach to parenting.
Just as a side-note; I was raised by a Japanese mother and it was nothing like the "Chinese" parenting described in the article. It wasn't quite the "western" paradigm either. Expectations were there to succeed, but there was never any belittling...
But to be perfectly honest, I sometimes wish my parents had been a bit more strict and pushed me a bit harder. I don't say that in a critical way - my poor mom carries enough guilt and regret about her parenting as it is (she is crazy - she was/is a most wonderful mother and so was/is my dad). But no parent is perfect (though we expect them to be, don't we? And some people can never quite forgive their parents for that). I know I have so much to learn about how to be a good mama, but I assume the Chinese model and the Western model are not mutually exclusive. Perhaps a better method is finding a way to integrate the two paradigms? Strictness with compassion? High expectations with room for fun?
One of the most interesting thing to me in this article was this quote:
Western parents are concerned about their children's psyches. Chinese parents aren't. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.I actually had to stop and ask myself what I assumed about Mayumi's psyche, and though I would describe her as a tough kid, I think I behave as if I'm terrified that I'll cause some psychological damage that will result in years of expensive therapy. Oh, that is bad, isn't it? I could never condone calling your child garbage, but the strictness and the emphasis on hard work and achievement is something that I think is missing from my own parenting. I've noticed I'm too quick to give in when Mayumi is whining or crying. I'm so afraid that she is going to be unhappy in the present moment that I'm unable to see the bigger picture and understand that sometimes I have to be the tough one and not indulge her whims and fancies all the time, for her own good. So, in addition to trying to create a more tranquil and less rushed environment, I am now trying set stronger boundaries and expectations of proper behavior in our home (in a loving and compassionate way, of course). It's only been a few days, and it is a constant struggle, but I think we're starting to see some changes.
But not allowing her to participate in sports and school plays? Now, that is a little extreme... (so says this actress!). The troubling thing for me, in this article, is not just the demoralizing that can go on, but the over-emphasis on academic achievement. Mayumi is only three years old and though we participate in some informal "schooling," I'm a big believer that an important part of development is play and exploration. I don't think academic prowess necessarily makes you a successful person. To me, success is about knowing how to find your happiness. What good are straight A's and a high salary if you are miserable? For some counterpoints to Chua's article you may want to check out this article from the Examiner about pushing preschoolers and this oped from CNN.com about letting kids play. Fascinating stuff.
Forgive my rambling, but it helps to clarify my own thoughts and who knows? Maybe you can shed some light on this stuff for me, too!