If there's one parenting story that's truly gotten parents in a tizzy, it's the one profiling author Amy Chua in The Wall Street Journal. The article, "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior," highlights the Chinese-American, Ivy-League school educated author's "methods" for raising high-achieving kids. This article was posted on January 8, but the controversy hasn't subsided. There have been plenty of online rebuttals within the Asian American community, but I think the article probably hits a nerve with parents regardless of ethnicity.
My first reaction after reading this article was sympathy for her two daughters. Then my next thought was, this woman is going to have some serious regrets. With all of that academic and social micromanaging of her children's lives, how well does she actually know them? There are serious, and sad, consequences to this type of parent-child relationship. I grew up with some of the same pressures the author discusses. Thankfully, I also grew up with plenty of love. So maybe I came out even.
Parenting is by far the toughest endeavor my husband and I have taken on, and we don't take our influence over our child lightly. We understand the huge responsibility of raising a happy, healthy and yes, high achieving child. When I say high achieving, I don't mean expecting Kellan to bring home only As and spend three hours a day sitting at the piano. He doesn't have to be the best at everything, but we do want him to make a real effort.
That being said, I do think that a little coercion works at times. I never would have learned how to ride a bike if my dad didn't beg, bribe, and insist that I finally learn. I do have a problem with telling your child what instruments to play and not allowing play dates, things Chua says she did. She also says she didn't let her kids choose their extracurricular activities or allow them to be in school plays. It must be exhausting to be that much of a tyrant. I wonder if she allows laughter and conversations about rainbows and unicorns.
Joking aside, we get only one chance to raise our kids so why not do it with joy? Yes, there are times when I'm dealing with a tantrum or sleep issues and there's absolutely no joy in that. But having children is supposed to be fun, as well as fulfilling. I know I'll make mistakes - sometimes big ones - but I hope I will always have the trust of my child to get through anything.
What do you think about this type of strict parenting?