If she is a tiger I am a.... crap no idea...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Amy Chua wrote a book about the superiority of Chinese mothers. Great right? At first I was angry. I was taking it as a critique on my parenting style which is about as far from the Chinese stereotype she describes as possibly can be.

And that is fine. I will not call my children garbage. They are not garbage. They are people. People with hearts and souls and feelings- I value that more than any grade. The best parenting I can give them is to help them learn to be intrinsically motivated. To expect the best from themselves.

I do not put a whole lot stock in the whole beginning education system, just my opinion.

Here, I am going to have a hard time articulating what I want to say: my brother and sister are both exceptionally brilliant and a hard act to follow. When my dad made the infamous comment about me never holding a candle to my sister- I internalized that- it became my 'truth'. Instead of pushing me to do better because I could, I said- screw it- and gave up. Why bother then, right?

In Jr. High I was having a hard time with my accelerated math. I recall my mom talking about extra tutoring, my teacher- said that she thought I got it the best in the class I just got bored, which was very true. But I never forgot overhearing my mother saying what she did, if she had outwardly berated me I would have imploded. My parents never wanted to give me a big head- but they missed that my self image was a pile of crap. They did not realize that the self talk I engaged in was an endless barrage or criticisms of everything about me.

This is dangerous- it set me on a loop of stress and almost masterful self destruction. Seriously I made it an art. I wanted to be the best at an eating disorder so I literally researched it and took notes.

I do not want to pass my proclivity for perfectionist self destruction to them, but I do want the to succeed.

The definition of success I suppose is key- does success mean a multimillion dollar job? Does it mean peace and love and value? I lean towards the later- but a good living would not hurt either.

So my parenting style- is pretty laid back. I want to be their soft place to fall.
I want them to feel safe and loved. I want them not to be afraid to talk to me. I will never stop loving them. I more proud of them when they try their best.

Like skiing- Stinky did not give up. He was struggling but he kept trying and he loved it, he was so proud of himself and that made me beam with pride.

My kids are loved and snuggled and respected- my only demand- is for them to learn to be kind.

An aside- when are Amy Chua's children going to learn the ins and outs of social mores and norms? When are they going to learn compassion and empathy? When are they going to learn to love? That is a failing, much more serious than getting a "B" on a math test.


Mrs.Mayhem said...

I have struggled with this topic myself. I have always told my kids that I want them to do their best in school; that effort matters more than grades.

My sons are both very smart, in honors classes in middle school, but one especially puts forth very little effort. I find his work ethic very frustrating, yet I don't want to damage his self-esteem (so easy to do during the teen years!).

It is such a fine line, between being tough in the name of teaching kids to work hard and hurting their self-esteem.

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