Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The One About the Parenting Thing

Just because I'm difficult that way, I'm going to keep the whole Amy Chua, Tiger Moms thing going for one more day. To tell the whole truth, I actually do my writing the day before posting, so this topic is pretty fresh while I'm writing it, it may be redundant to you..

If you haven't already read the WSJ piece, you can read it here:
Go ahead, I'll wait....
There have been a number of pieces written about this. Google the topic and you should receive a plethora of opinions. Some grounded in fact, some in emotion. Almost all of them disagree with the idea that the Chinese or Asian style of parenting is somehow superior to western style. I'm not sure that I agree.

Many will cite the high rate of suicide among Asian Americans (women in particular). While it's certainly not something to ignore, it is quite possible that there are other factors that contribute to that number besides the pressure to excel and conform. WHO statistics still put the US rate of suicide considerably higher than any Asian country and I would think that the pressure to excel and conform is much higher in home countries where an entire family's very survival may depend on the earning capabilities of their children. 

The next thing that comes to my mind are the western "uber" moms along with their partners, the "sports" dads. Aren't they, in essence. doing the same thing? The articles on over scheduling and ten-year pre-school waiting lists, not to mention the numerous incidents of sports related fights and worse among PARENTS would indicate that these parents are viewing sports and education as anything but pressure free... I suppose that they might say that they're creating a "well-rounded" child, but are they??

The next thing that seems to bring about great furor is the name calling thing. This subject is the one that seems to get under people's skin the most. As parents, there are those moments, there are those days, when "my beloved child" is just not the correct description. Heck, we call our daughter TLC (the littlest communist) as a joke, but there are days when it fits her to a tee. I have looked at my child and told her to stop being a "brat". Does anyone out there really think that a four year old kid can differentiate between the verbs "being" and "acting"??? Have I damaged her already?? Puhleeze! If my, or any other child for that matter, is somehow "damaged" by the occasional rantings of a frustrated parent, they've got bigger problems than whatever name they're being called.

My favorite thought on this whole discussion is the education part. Asian children consistently outperform their western counterparts across the board in education. There's a dirty little rumor out there that many universities were, for a time, limiting enrollment of Asian students. Why? Because the Asian students were skewing the curve, making the US students and the schools they attended look less competent, thus, less attractive to alumni and prospective students alike. Unless someone can point me to a genetic difference in Asian students, I almost have to believe that there are distinct cultural and societal differences throughout an Asian childhood. That leaves the door wide open to debate the difference between Asian and Western philosophy in parenting, both at the nuclear and extended level.

Certainly no one has to agree entirely with Ms.Chua's thesis. But one would be a fool not to consider it....

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