Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What Kind of Mother Are You?

The keyboard

I read this article some time last week when someone linked to it on Facebook about Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior or some such statement.

How could I not read that?

Go on, you know you want to read it.

At first I was horrified. I couldn't believe what I was reading. I could picture the scene at the piano, going over and over the same piece. The yelling. The belittling.

I felt sick that this woman was defending this type of parenting.

Then she made her point. Her daughter was so happy when she finally could play the piece. It was fun.

And I thought, huh, okay, maybe it is not so bad.


Then I started considering some of the ideals she upheld. No TV. No video games. No point in doing something unless you are the best.

Hmmm. So no fun allowed then?

And what if you are pushing your child to be the best at something even though it is not something they would ever choose.

How does a child know what they want to do? This is highly influenced by their parents, I would argue. You can't tell me that girl cared a whit if she was that good at playing the piano. No, what she cared about was making her mother stop yelling.

I am simplifying it highly but my point is that perhaps that style of parenting creates adults who can play Carnegie Hall. So what?

What does that accomplish in the grand scheme of life?

Is that the most fulfilling thing that person will ever do?

I really and truly hope not.

My goal has, and always will be, to teach my children how to find that place in life where they are happy and fulfilled.

And my gut tells me forcing them to be the best piano player or soccer player will sabatoge that goal beyond belief.

So I choose to be less superior.

And I am okay with that. More than words can say.


Cheryl said...

I'm ok with that too. I remember the more my mom pushed and yelled at me for my dancing, the more I rebelled, hiding my slippers...
It's a fine line, but I think belittling is mean, and I do not want to be a mean mom.

Elaine A. said...

My parents always let me choose what I liked to do and when I excelled at singing that won out and has and will always be a true love of mine. I agree with you whole heartedly. I agree with working hard at something but I think it has to be something you really love.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you. Like the first poster mentioned, that line is very, very fine. I think mother in that article oversteps it by yelling and pushing like that. I agree with SOME aspects of the article, such as the part about believing that your child CAN excel, and encouraging them to do well. But I have a real problem with dictating what subjects, instruments, friends, and interests your children will have. Where is the unique individuality of the child??? And I seriously question the concept of a loving, FUN relationship between parent & child in these situations. I know a few Asian families and they are NOT affectionate with each other. Friends of mine who are of that culture say their parents NEVER told them they loved them, and now, when the kids are adults, they have a very "formal" relationship with their parents. I don't want that for my child. Even if my children were prodigies who could play perfect piano pieces at Carnegie Hall, I wouldn't want that austere kind of mother/son relationship, not in a million years.

I also choose to be less than superior. And like you, I'm okay with that!

Lori: Teacher Turned Mommy said...

wow. ummm I don't even know what to say about the article. I always say that my job it to help my sons be productive, loving, caring and successful member of society. But, I encourage fun, foster learning, and let them be themselves.

Kami said...

Ok, I haven't read the article yet (I'm going there next) but I agree with you. It's probably more a difference in culture than that this woman didn't love her daughter or liked to yell. But, still. You can be so focused on your child's future and giving them the tools to be successful that they end up successful, unhappy, bitter adults. I'd call that a parenting fail. It's all about balance. Sometimes kids need to be pushed a little. Sometimes they need a break. Sometimes it's just not worth fighting about. I'm constantly deciding if things are worth fighting about or not. When I look at it rationally and calmly, I find a lot of things AREN'T worth fighting about.

Debbie said...

I'm good with that too.

I do have to watch myself, since we've started the boys in dancing. I loved it so much, it was such a huge part of my life (still is, in some ways), that I want them to have the same experiences.

But I remind myself that they will only have those memories if they enjoy it. And I don't think anyone truly enjoys being yelled at.

Melanie said...

I read that article too and was appalled. I feel the same way as you do. My husband was a youth pastor at a Chinese church and those kids were pushed so hard to succeed. And those kids also had the lowest self esteems compared to any caucasian kids that either of us had ever worked with.

So keep being the Mommy that you are that loves and supports her kids even when they fail or do less than "the best".

Angella said...

That woman is ridiculous. I support my kids in anything they want to do and cheer them on and always support them.

Belittling is not cool.

You're a great Momma, Kami. :)

Kristin said...

Just doing some reading catch up and I'm reminded how much I love your writing. I agree - let's celebrate the perfection that is childhood - exploring, trying, learning, creativity. My mother encouraged me lovingly to be my best self and I have very carefree memories of childhood. There is enough time in life for stress, let's keep it from our children as long as possible.