Pink Floyd, The Final Cut 1983
Listen up, yesterday's post was tongue-in-cheek -- a sarcastic romp via a superhighway of parody. If you would like to read an actual thought-provoking response to the Amy Chua article, then I highly recommend poking over into Faiqa's place, where she talks about her own experiences growing up in a household set with high expectations.
Do I think all Indian men are spoiling their kids rotten? Nope. Do I know a mega ton of Indian parents who have spoiled their children in the early years, only to crack the educational and behavioral whip in the later years? You betcha. And that was sort of my point. Kind of.
Yes, it is true that I believe Manoj to be way too lenient with our kids. It is most certainly true that he rolled his eyes at Arun's chore chart and that he snorts (with vigor!) at my suggestion we get Arun on a soccer team. We do disagree a bit about how best to raise our kids, but we find our common ground. The chore chart still hangs, whereas Arun has yet to join a soccer team (and probably never will, because we agree it would be fun, albeit not important.) However, I would not be surprised if later on, my kids are shocked to learn that their IIT, Ivy League educated father will not back down when it comes to academic achievement. Will an "A-" or a "B" be good enough for Manoj? Time will tell.
Better enjoy those raw sugar packs now, kiddies. The end is nigh.
Some of Amy Chua's article did not surprise me - I went through a "Chinese author" spate of reading a few years back and have read everything Amy Tan has written, in addition to some other Chinese authors. Kitchen God's Wife, anyone? Her descriptions of Chinese Mothering were fairly spot on, from what I have read in the past.
However, a few things DID surprise me about Amy Chua's article. First, I knew Chua from a previous book, World on Fire so I was mildly surprised to see a professional such as herself reveal such personal, intimate details of her parenting style, perhaps not realizing how awful some of them would make her appear. Or maybe she did know. Maybe that was the point, to stir controversy.
I was also surprised to the extent with which her husband disagreed with her, yet she still continued when some of her actions. Yikes.
And while I was not surprised at the blanket outrage towards the article, I was surprised how few folks gave any credence whatsoever towards some of the things Chua had to say. In fact, Faiqa's post is incredibly valuable in this because she does validate, in part, a small piece of what Chua was trying to achieve while still expressing concern in Chua's method of delivery. And one important bit really concerned me - all parents do not want the same things for their children. I know some folks truly believe that participating in a sport activity is critical to their child's development (personally, I do not.) Also, I read a blogger who is going to pack her kids up in an RV for a year and travel the country. While I am actually excited to read about their adventures, I would not want this for my own children. However, I do not judge her for this because those are her children and she wants different things for them. Different does not mean wrong.
Or superior, for that matter.
When Manoj and I argue about disciplining our kids, he asks me "Why are you so hard on them?" My answer is ALWAYS this:
"Because if I don't expect 100% from them, no one else will. No one else cares about their success like I do."
Oh sure, my kids will come across teachers here and there who form a vested interest in their success, but seriously - the world at large will not weep too many tears if my kids end up academic and/or professional failures.
I do not talk about my paternal grandmother much here. I really should, because most of my readers have no idea how incredibly central she has been (and still is) to my life. She spoiled us with toys and clothes when we were young, but she had strict behavioral and academic standards -- we were expected to follow them. She also helped pay for part of our college education, so there were some financial strings attached as well (which was absolutely fair because it was HER money.) Growing up and through my 20s, I desperately wanted her approval and I never felt like I got it. Finally, when I was 30, I understood. She loved me but I had to accept the fact that I would never completely be the sort of person she wanted me to be. And that it was okay because she still loved me. Now that I am older, I appreciate that she did not coddle me and tell me something was okay, when it really was not.
Most importantly, I also appreciate that she was my grandmother, which is a slightly removed relationship from a parent. I cannot imagine living in that sort of environment with a parent.
Chua's article (and book? which I will never read) provides some good topics for discussion, I wish more folks would loosen their defenses, hop off the mind-numbing bandwagon, and really think.
Okay, I need to publish this and get back to work. This Prairie Dog Mother really needs to research how to get past Mugley's Mound in Donkey Kong Country.