Thursday, January 13, 2011

Parenting is not a rat race...

During a conversation with a friend J (he is European), I learnt of an article in WSJ about "Why Chinese Mothers are superior"...interested in reading the article? click here
While reading the article, I was in part fascinated and in part horrified with what was shared...the woman very proudly discussed the process of turning her children into droids that played perfect music, never did any wrong and got straight A's...never cussed, didn't watch TV. My 4 year old is extremely precocious, opininated, creative and intensely logical ...yet what he is not is constrained in many ways - he is unruly and rowdy. I don't expect him to do homework...I keep a loose routine and he has TV time, he gets choices for meals and plays a lot...I haven't submerged him in a deluge of activities. Am I proud of it or do I think I am a Good Parent? I don't really think about it beyond the fact that K2-

(A)  needs to experience life
(B) needs to create  experiences (both good and bad) for himself
(C) needs to be fearless...yet understand boundaries
(D) needs to find his own strengths...and weaknesses
(E) Most Important - Needs to have fun

I  of course provide positive/negative reinforcement (remember Pavlov) as the situation warrants.
I remember spending a lot of my childhood worrying about declining grades and increasing weight...and a lot of these worries were a reflection of watching my Ma's reaction to the above mentioned two things...yet to be fair, my Ma compared me to the other "brilliant" children around but never really forced me to do something I didn't want to or be someone I didn't want to...yet the pressure was constant.
Given my Indian Background I can understand where this "self-righteous" mother is coming from but I do not agree with her parenting technique. Parenting is not a Law of is not about us being in control and ensuring that our children turn out a certain way...we socialize our children a certain way, teach them a certain "ethical system" and ensure that they are adequately prepared for dealing with the vagaries of the world, beyond that they are the masters of their own destiny. Amy Chua, the woman who wrote this article on Parenting is a Professor at Yale...and I am amused at her definitive stance...there is nothing definitive or theoretical about Parenting. What works for me might not work for you...its about taking the "bull by the horn" and going through the experience with an open mind.
A fair example - my aunt brought her son up with pretty strict principles...very much like Amy Chua. For a major part of his childhood and college life he was a Straight A student, an eloquent day he discovered drugs....twenty years later he mooches off his parents and I am sure she keeps wondering - Where she went wrong?
Parenting...I have realized is hard. I have experienced it first hand for 4 years...however I know a couple things for certain - (a) it is not a competition (b) it is not a rat race
So to Amy Chua I say --- "Hey Madame Professor!  Let the Sleeping Dogs Lie"....

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