Monday, January 31, 2011

Amy Chua: Tiger Mother

I really like Amy Chua. People who have read my columns and my blog might be shocked by that. I don't agree with her on many things but I admire the value she brings to mothering. She stands up and declares that mothering is hard work, that we need to believe in our kids, and that it's okay to have high expectations. Furthermore, I think she's pretty funny.

While I will never force my son to play the piano for three hours a day or deny him playdates, I agree with her that hard work makes things enjoyable. Self-esteem and confidence don't come from our words. Whether we're parents or teachers, we can't speak those qualities into our children. Children believe in themselves when they accomplish things. These accomplishments can be as simple as sewing on a button or as dramatic as getting a touchdown. In Ms. Chua's case, it's playing at Carnegie Hall. In my case, my son's love of literature is important. Do these things reflect our own interests as parents? Of course. But, it's what I have to offer my child. It's natural that we share our gifts and interests with our children. And then, when they're old enough, they'll find their own way, but they'll have a solid foundation. They'll know what it's like to care about something.

When Kieran was a baby and so much of the advice I received was absolute, I chanted the mantra in my head: there are many ways to raise a child. I thank Amy Chua for reminding us of that. I thank her for getting us thinking about the impact of our words and actions (or lack thereof). I thank her for caring about mothering.

If you haven't already, make sure you read her essay--and the comments that follow. She'll infuriate and inspire. She certainly doesn't deserve death threats...but I guess it's good for book sales.

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