Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Parenting Linkorama 1/2/11

A new month has begun! Put the new year excitement of January behind - we are now into 2011 proper! I just finished clearing up my Google reader of the 700 odd unread articles it had collected! By which I mean, I just marked them as 'read' and kept going, taking the risk I may have missed something important!! I guess I just realised that I really need to sit down and re-prioritise my time - my old priority list cannot work anymore! And on the days there is no new post, please forgive me and maybe read one of the older articles! After all the recent brouhaha on Amy Chua, today's links are focussed on bringing up children.

TIGER MOTHER: Amy Chua's article, 'Why Chinese Mothers are superior', that appeared in the Wall Street Journal kicked up a ruckus with some readers calling her the worst mother ever and even issuing her death threats! But it was the perfect launch for her book, 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother', which has hit #2 in the New York Times bestseller list and may rise even further! Her basic premise is that setting high standards for children and forcing them to achieve those standards is the ideal way to bring out the best in them. Fortunately we still have some more time to adopt our style of parenting, but what do all of you think? Here is the Washington Post review of the book. Amy's 18 year-old daughter had this response to the criticism of her mother.

THE BLESSING OF B-MINUS: Before you make up your mind, psychologist Wendy Mogel has written a book encouraging the exact opposite! She has a PhD, so I am inclined to believe her!! Here is an article which tries to put both books in perspective! (HT: Challies)

THE ECONOMICS OF TIGER PARENTING: This article starts of with a great story. A daughter asked her father (the author) for a dog. Not being fond of dogs, the father tells her that (you just can't make this stuff up!) she will get a dog if she publishes a paper in an academic peer-reviewed journal!! Talk about high expectations!! From a 7 year old!! But then, for the next year-and-a-half, he helped his 2 children do a research project (what a way to spend your 7th year of life!!) and then actually publish it in a journal!! Hats off to this guy! Worth reading if just for the story!

PARENTING YOUR CHILD: And speaking of parenting, my own parents have written a book on the subject. I may not be a very good advertisement for it, but be that as it may, it is an excellent book!

NOT THE IDEAL PARENT: This mother left her son to walk home alone with wolves in the vicinity as she got 'carried away shopping'! Again I say, stuff like this jsut can't be made up!! Fortunately it seems that wolves do not like Christian rock music!!

CHILDHOOD IS CHANGING BUT CHILDREN ARE THE SAME: This video asks some important questions of all of us, especially parents. Can we spend 5 minutes to watch it?!!


  1. Very interesting links today. I remember reading the article by Amy Chua a few days ago and thinking that while many of her parenting techniques seemed to be overkill, there are more similarities between the Chinese and the Indian ways of parenting than there are with the Western way.

    Indian parents like their kids to be the best at academics. Sports, dramatics and music aren't as important, although if the child does engage in these activities, then there is the basic requirement that he or she should be in the top few. But come what may, their grades have to be nothing short of exemplary. For western parents on the other hand, the expectations are diametrically opposite. It is all about all round development and not so much about academics but this is achieved at the expense of some lack of discipline. I think this is because Indians are fundamentally "degree crazy" (a phrase coined by me). Parents refuse to see past medicine, engineering and law as potential careers for their kids. A person's value is directly proportional to the number of letters behind their name. At every phase of your career, you need a degree to progress to the next stage. Not so in the west where opportunities are more skill based and it is ok to be a plumber, electrician or bus driver.

    The Chinese take it several rungs higher. They need to be the best at whatever they do - no holds barred. That is probably why theirs is the fastest growing nation (not just economically) and mark my words- the Chinese dragon is about to give the Americans a run for their money.

    Even in western schools, the high achievers are usually Chinese kids, followed by the Indians and then the locals. For some reason, this academic superiority does not seem to extend to the University level and the local kids seem to catch up. Maybe it is their all round development that enables them to rise to the fore about this time and they are more likely to be naturally blessed with the gift of the gab and hence do well in life.

    There is a difference in the familial social structure between Asia and the west and this is based on the way children are brought up. Asian children still feel responsible for their parents as they grow older while in the west, this is the exception rather than the norm.

    I wouldn't be too impressed with Wendy Mogel's PhD's. I'm sure there are plenty of Chinese with PhD's who will argue their case just as well. Both of the aforementioned authors suggest extremes of parenting techniques. What we need is a balance of discipline and acceptance, blending educational excellence with the freedom of choice. You can read all the books you want, but none of that is going to prepare you for parenthood. When the kids arrive, all those key points you had marked out go flying out the window. You just have to wing it - and hope that you're doing it right.

    Time will tell.........

    - The Black Mamba

  2. Thanks for the links. I found Amy Chua horrifying when I started reading her at first. But her daughter's article helped put things in perspective. While I think that Amy Chua did go a bit overboard with her "strictness" I also think that the "self esteem" stuff we hear about these days is overrated. As Christians, I don't think we should care too much about 'self' esteem as much as what God thinks of us.

    I have some parents who worry so much about their child's self esteem that they just cannot take any kind of criticism from their child's teacher. This is actually dangerous for the child.

  3. Hey Black Mamba! Your comments are becoming more interesting than the post itself sometimes! Thanks! Your thoughts on this echo a lot of what I am thinking (basically you deprived me of an idea for a post!!), though as you say, when kids finally come, all programs and principles go out of the window and you take it as it comes! I guess that's where Deepa's comment is important. By keeping all aspects of our life in the centre of God's will, including bringing up children, things get simplified a little. Though not too much! Thanks Deepa for bringing in this basic tenet of Christian life.

  4. I apologise for my protracted comments. I shall try and keep it short and sweet but I do enjoy reading your blog and once I start replying, I look up 15 minutes later and find that it has turned into a long-winded debate.

    Am looking forward to your next post.

    - The Black Mamba