Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why Chinese Mothers are Superior - Wall Street Journal Jan 8th!

NOTE: the link for the article discussed in this blog is at the very bottom of this entry under 'lables'.

I read the article and it blew my mind:

1) it had been a while since I read something that expressed such a strong opinion. Most published materials are carefully crafted to appeal to vast majority and as such be politically correct. Even if they are not thought provoking they do not push the limits nearly to the extent that this article does.

2) honest and personal. When people publish things they are seldom this honest. Even when they draw from personal experience it is vague and relates to something barely important. Most like to write/talk about "other people"

3) thought provoking. I mean hair-rasing, makes you angry and then quickly forces you to surrender due to facts and proven results. Not sure I agree with ms. Chua's mentaility of raising children but then again who am I to disagree? I have no data/facts or children of my own to debate her child rearing methods.

At the end of the day I too believe that humans, especially children are much stronger emotionally than we give them credit for. For example Ms. Chua states that Western parents are extremly anxious about their children's self esteem whereas Chinese parents are not. They assume strength, not fragility.

The author explains that based on this assumption Chinest parents push their kids hard to perform well "Chinese parents understand 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" She continues to say "tenacious practice, practice practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underated in America. Once a child starts to excel in something - weather it;s math, piano, pitching or ballet - he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confiedence and makes the once not-so-fun activity fun."

Up till this point it made sense to me and it aligned with my values and understanding of the world. But then she lost me when she explains how she made her daughter Lulu practice non-stop for a week and when the daughter refused at one point to continue practicing the mother decided to scream until she lost her voice, threatened to take away all birthday parties for then next few years, donate her daugher's toys and when all failed even bathroom breaks where not allowed!

Ok I get it! What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and harships make you build character. But where do you draw the line? At which point to you accept that each child has his or her limits? The author boasts that Lulu finally learned the piece but I could not help but wonder what would happen next if she had not done so. I can only imagine that if you always push your child to the maximum limit you're not always going to get positive results and quite frankly you may even get some devastating ones.

I am also not sure 100% conviced about the author statements in how parents have to always overide their child desires and preferences because they know what is best for their child. I guess i do believe in individuality and I have a hard time understanding how you can be a happy human being if for the first 18 years of your life (or whenever one believes they have control over their childrens' lives) your own preferences and desires have been ignored. But then again, happiness the article discusses how to raise successful children not happy children neccessarily.

In the end I come to realize that I am more of a western thinker than anything else. But I can not help but wonder: is it possible that there is some happy medium? And if so where is that happy balance? Or maybe the better question is what is it they want out of your children? if you're looking for superheroes than it is inevitable that you push to maximum limit because if you don't there will be another mother out there who will happily do so (i.e. ms. Chua). But if not, you have have the luxury of exploring happy mediums and then finding out where the journey will take you.

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