What Type Parent Are You?
Culture is a big deal. It basically allows individuals to subscribe to a pattern of accepted behaviors, whether out in public or the way people behave at home. That includes what expectation the parents will have about their child and the manner in which they interact with her. Recently the Chinese mother wrote about the TIGER MOTHER process whereby she had adopted her cultural norm in being tyrannical with one's child in order to motivate the child to perform in educationally and else wise, in an accepted manner. The children were belittled, coerced, embarrassed, oft times humiliated because the parent, adapting to the Chinese parent standard, was not content with the educational and personal path the child was taking. These children were not allowed sleepovers, to perform in school plays, choose their own activities, yet they could play an instrument as long as it was the piano or violin, and not receive any grade lower than an A in class work. While it seems beneficial for a child to receive "A" grades, anything less was not tolerated by the TIGER MOTHER and the child was ridiculed and humiliated, in an attempt to inspire fear and respect within the child for the parent. Even the teachers would get into the process and berate and shame the child in class.
The question some have is whether this method is necessary? Why is it that our society tends to respond differently to children? The TIGER MOTHER spoke condescendingly about American parents in that they are far too protective with their children, hinting that one may want to consider losing weight or exercising, but never calling their child "fatty" like the Chinese TIGER MOTHER would. And it is true that American students certainly have a wide variance in grades they receive. Often children have to deal with parents who are too little involved in their lives, completely opposite of the TIGER MOTHER. These children have little direction and often suffer personally and academically as they choose poor routes to travel upon.
Sure, American students participate in extracurricular activities, plays, sports, debate; receive a wide variance of grades. Sure, they participate in sleepovers and play musical instruments other than the piano, but it may be that difference that makes our approach better. Everyone has observed the little league coaches who are hell-bent on winning, accusing little boys of performing badly, chastising them in front of the entire audience. That is the real problem, the person who thinks he can threaten, intimidate, and shame a child into doing better. It will not work, ever.
Parenting is a tricky job and it requires a standpoint whereby one can recognize the child as an independent person, capable of his own likes and dislikes, dreams and hopes. One's job as a parent is to ensure that your child believes in himself enough to take a chance and follow those dreams, becoming the person he chooses to be, rather than a one-sided view of what the parent wants for him to "become." Beware that many problems are on the rise as suicide among high school and university students these days in China is exceedingly high. What does that have to say about the TIGER mentality of raising a child? What good does it do to be a TIGER MOTHER if your child experiences such shame from his parent and authority figures that he mortally wounds himself? Other children may not experience such levels of misery but that may not change the fact that they are also distressed as well, having to repeatedly endure humiliating and agonizing comments from one's parent and teacher.
What may be best for us all is to consider a merging of the TIGER MOTHER and the American parent. Perhaps we could expect more from our children, allowing them to pick their true course, but encourage more effort, without the shame. Perhaps we could teach our children to eat correctly and exercise more regularly. Perhaps we could introduce the fact that we expect our children to read regularly and to practice one's chosen instrument more often. But more than anything, what we can do is to love our children. Loving your child allows for him to feel good about himself and be happy with who he is becoming. A contented child will make his own good choices and create a path for him that creates a sense within him that is good and will thus feel satisfied. Thus, perhaps we do not need to be an animal with our children, but loving instead. The Loving mother and father, what a creative idea.