Welcome to One Busy Momma! The Blog for Busy Moms by one Busy Mom.....

Welcome to my blog. One Busy Momma is my space to rant about my life and the things that happen in it. I have a crazy life - and instead of focusing on the crazy - I like to focus on the funny. Because if I focused on the craziness - well, I'd have been shipped off to an institution long, long ago. And while, I'll admit, there are some days when being institutionalized sounds PRETTY GOOD compared to making ANOTHER diorama at 1am - I'd rather be right where I am - in my messy house with my not so perfect kids making crooked dioramas in the middle of the night.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What Kind of Mom are YOU?????

Battle Hymn of the Tiger MotherAhhhhh...nothing like a little parenting controversey to warm up a snowy January morning. You all know what I am talking about - the infamous Tiger Mother firestorm.  A Chinese American Yale professor, Amy Chua, has written a book extolling the virtues of what she calls - The Tiger Mother. In the book, she describes the Chinese parenting philosophy and waxes poetic about why it is superior to what she terms "Western parenting". She also details her own experiences as a Tiger Mother to her 2 daughters - Sophia and LuLu. While much has been said in the media about her strict, unyielding rules and ideas about what makes a superior parent and child, little has been said about these two girls. And this surprises me greatly - because, according to Chua, while both girls are brilliant and immensely talented- they each responded VERY differently to her Tiger mothering.  

Sohia- the oldest daughter - responded beautifully to this extreme parenting philosophy. Now the term "beautifully" is WIDE open to interpretation, of course. If you consider being asked to play the piano at Carnegie Hall when you are in the 8th grade responding "beautifully" - then you are in luck. Because this child, due to her mother's RELENTLESS insistence on practicing the paino for 3, 4 and 5 hours a day, became a piano genius by the tender age of 13. And relentless Ms. Chua was. She would threaten to  BURN Sophia's stuffed animals and donate her favorite toys if she didn't practice, or if her fingers weren't fast enough or if she didn't play with "musicality". YIKES!!!!

LuLu on the other hand didn't respond as well. In fact - LuLu wound up taming the Tiger! Without giving too much away - let's just say that this strong-willed little girl turned Chau's parenting philosophy on its head. The subtitle of the book  does say that Chau was "humbled" by a child - and she truly was.

I LOVED this book - loved it. I think Amy Chau is bat-shit crazy, and based on her story of the childhood she provided for her girls - I truly think she needs to be psychologically evaluated. If her girls emerge from this experience unscathed - it will be a miracle. However - one thing I do have to say is that she is brutally honest about her parental triumphs and failures. And both her successes and failures were spectacular.  The book is NOT a parenting "how-to" guide. I think it is an attempt to redeem herself in her daughters' eyes. There is no doubt that she truly believes that this "extreme" parenting style IS superior to what she calls "Western" parenting. But she also freely admits that it doesn't work with every child.

The evidence that Asian kids academically outperform their American counterparts is overwhelming and cannot be ignored. But what price do these kids pay for their academic superiority? And what price do their parents pay?  Chau argues that this type of parenting is the ULTIMATE expression of love because this type of parenting is NO fun for the parent. These parents are hyper involved - she insists that Chinese mothers spend ten times as much time drilling academics with their kids than American mothers. She claims that she did all of the screaming and yelling and threatening in the best interests of her daughters - not to torture them. I don't know if I buy that. She certainly enjoyed all of the praise lavished upon her when her kids were deemed "prodigies" and were invited to perform at world-class venues.

While I would never identify myself as a Tiger Mom - I'm no fluffy Kitty Cat Mommy either. I was raised by a strict mother. As and Bs were the expectation in my house and if they didn't appear on the report card - you'd better have a VERY good explanation. But - that was because As and Bs WERE representative of my brother and I working to our best ability. I have no doubt that if we were solid C students that a C would have been accepted. While Mom and Dad had high expectations, my Barbies were NEVER in danger of being barbequed. And I'd like to think that MY expectations of my children are pretty high - hopefully appropriately high. I've been known to rip up homework that was a mess. I'm the mom who drills multiplication tables on the weekends and on snow days. My kids have to read for a minimum of an hour every day during the summer and on the weekends. They do workbook pages every day over the summer to prevent the dreaded "summer slide". Does that make me a Tiger mother? No way. My kids also have more sleepovers than I ever had, they have playdates, play sports and have every video game and video game system known to man. (Or at least known to PC!) I HOPE that I'm preparing them to be successful adults. I know that they are happy and having a great childhood. And I know that they don't hate me - which is more than Amy Chau can say about her kids.

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