I'm no Tiger Mom. In fact, Amy Chua, (who wrote Why Chinese Mothers are Superior and created quite a stir), scares the bejeezus out of me. Her three hour piano lessons, 'reject your four year-old's last minute hand-drawn birthday card' mothering style seems so downright mean to me. On the other hand, the coddling, "everything you do is wonderful, honey" approach strikes me as pretty lame, too.
I am not a child psychologist. I am a psychologist who happens to be a mother. A mother, I am proud to say, of two amazing teenagers. Grown-ups compliment me all the time about how great my kids are: polite, funny, kind, smart. Was this my doing?
If we don't take the full blame for when things go wrong, can we accept reponsibility for good results? How much of what makes up our kids are just a throw of the genetic dice, the temperament they are born with? Thank God, my son didn't get the angry temper gene from his grandfather and what a relief my daughter was born with remarkable resilience, not thin-skinned like her mother. Then again, they didn't raise themselves, so I've got to think my husband and I did something right.
Most of us are good-enough parents doing the best we can with what we've got. That means we are a bit better at parenting than our own parents were. That's the way it should be, each generation improving a little on the one that went before. Maybe even a lot.
Dr. Nancy Darling wrote Flinching From the Tiger Mom on the Psychology Today website. A professor of psychology who studies cross-cultural parenting, Dr. Darling makes the point that, despite the knee jerk reaction many Westerners may have to Amy Chua's uber-Chinese mother tactics, there may be something to her approach. I like these six child-rearing points Dr. Darling outlines, all supported by solid research and my own experience as a parent:
1) Good parenting takes a lot of time.
2) Working with an adult can keep kids motivated when the going gets tough.
3) Kids know their parents love them because of what they DO, not what they FEEL or SAY.
4) Kids all over the world see consistent parental rulesetting as the fundamental way in which parents show that they CARE ABOUT and CARE FOR them.
5) There is nothing good about threatening or verbally harassing a child.
6) Parents often think that strict parenting leads to adolescent rebellion. They're wrong. Authoritative parents who are strict, but communicate love, have kids who tend to do well, have good friends, stay out of trouble, and feel good about themselves.
To read the entire article click here.
Then I read David Brooks's funny-because-it's-true piece, Amy Chua is a Wimp. In it he says , "Practicing a piece of music for four hours requires focused attention, but it is nowhere near as cognitively demanding as a sleepover with 14-year-old girls." The guy must have daughters.