Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Considering the Tiger Mother

I have the day off. My only real goals are to sew a pair of practice pants, finish the jacket, and get to skating practice this afternoon. Beyond that, nuts.

I've been following the saga of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua, on various blogs. Everyone seems to claim she is backpedaling now. Well, she'd have to. She's getting death threats. Yes, Death Threats. People are threatening to kill this woman because they disagree with her parenting philosophy. Doubtless, Amy is one that I'd consider an Extreme (Xtreme?) Alpha Mom. But there's one thing Amy says that has stuck with me;  "People are mad because I was being honest,"

In that regard, Amy is dead right.

No self-respecting parent is going to sit and honestly admit that they have to fight their kids in an effort to instill common sense life skills. And yet, shelves are lined with books on parenting. How exactly do we go about this?

Left to his own devices, Stitch will sit like a slug on our sofa and play vidya games until his brains dribbled out his ear. He'll be mouthy, obstinate, whiny, and he's pretty good at finding buttons on people. Then he pushes them. How much flak would I catch if people knew the truth about the days I confiscate the Vidya games, the Battle of the Chapter Books wherein I've made Stitch cry, the night I made him do his homework three times until it was up to par (tears for bonus points), the incident where he got a time out smack in the middle of a museum (ignoring crocodile tears in public gets you a level up) , and the ongoing War of the Penmanship, battles fought weekly with eraser and pencil sharpener. Ugly Truth #1 is, kids can be awful.

Ugly Truth #2 is; Kids are usually awful because of Mom and Dad.

When my younger colleagues start talking about the "someday" when they're "ready" to have kids, they usually turn to me. I tell them that they'll never be ready, and that nothing on Earth will make you examine the roots of yourself more than having kids.

This is, I believe, the root of the Death Threats surrounding Ms. Chua. She told the truth, and her truth was so jarring to the Wishy-Washy parents of Gilded Suburbia that they responded in true knee-jerk form. When I read her strict tactics, I too responded with a dropped jaw. The thing about Knee-Jerk reactions is that they don't come from a vacuum. Something within yourself has become unsettled by the conflicting viewpoint, and that's a moment to try and find out why. What is it that you're unsure of, that a book or internet article can unsettle it?

Me? I've had a lot of anxiety lately about the Pushing. I feel that I'm doing the right thing, but I don't want to be That Mom. I'm not comfortable with that yet. I do it with the Academics and Behavior, but I'm not there yet when it comes to Sports. Perhaps I need to just embrace it. Ms. Chua did, and while I would never call Stitch names or deny him bathroom breaks, I think there's a lot of room for a Middle Way. (HA!) I've been given a kid who has a buttload of talent when it comes to Skating, and an intense desire to perform, but doesn't have the self-discipline or self-confidence to see it through.

Hey, there are worse things to be than a Pushy Mom.

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