Amy Chua’s book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is definitely going on my reading list.
Oprah’s interview with her is here and she says: I wish I’d realized earlier that parenting cannot just be one size fits all.
Well, with a quote like that, how can I not rise to the bait?
There’s more detail on the Wall Street Journal online
Ms. Chua says, “What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences.”
In my opinion, this concept that children are basically lazy and unmotivated, incapable of making choices, is a subtle form of child abuse. I’m not saying that the tail should wag the dog or that children should get to decide everything, just that children are like snowflakes and by putting them into a strait jacket they will not be free to make choices when they’re older. Relentless competition and the pressure to not just get all A’s but be first in the class in every subject is unrealistic. Besides, what if Tiger Cub is Meryl Streep or Picasso?
Without wanting to fall into stereotyping, I believe that this model might work with less damage to the child in a traditional society where everyone has the same expectations. But in the west, children will not fail to notice that other families have very different expectations. In any case traditional societies everywhere are increasingly scarce.
On top of the immediate psychological costs to the children, this model is preparing them for the daily grind of a routine job. Yet in today’s workplace it is more important to be flexible, to be able to work in a team, to creatively solve problems. Today’s children won’t grow up and go punch a time clock on an assembly line. They need to be self-motivated, not motivated by fear of Mom, the teacher, the boss. Don’t bring children up in the expectation that they will hate work. That’s a self-fulfilling prophecy and so Dickensian (Really, Cratchitt, must you take the whole day off?)
Although I’ve worked in a factory assembling widgets, and in offices where people were literally micromanaged into nervous breakdowns, now I am so blessed to be able to work from home at something I enjoy. Looming deadlines get to me sometimes, but I don’t have the attitude that work is a necessary evil. It’s a way to make a difference in the world, as is whatever I can do to help homeschool the Young Sprout, and my creative pursuits. How tragic to deprive anyone of that potential.
This is, of course, definitely YARTHS (yet another reason to homeschool).