Maggie Makes Four!

This journal started off documenting the adoption of our youngest daughter. It now follows the twist and turns of our lives as we raise these two amazing little creatures into the best women they can become.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tiger Mama??

If you're a mom, you've probably read the Wall Street Journal article about Why Chinese Moms are Superior. I read this with great interest earlier in the week and have spent a lot of time talking about Amy Chua's parenting advice with other moms. First we all agree, Amy Chua is a brilliant marketer. She's started quite a debate, just before her parenting book comes out and we're all curious about what she has to say about parenting.

To that end, responses to her methods have varied. Some moms find her parenting theory really offensive. Kids need more of a soft touch than a kick in the butt, according to these moms. And really, kids are fragile. I've never viewed my kids as fragile. When I met my kids as babies, they were both quite spirited. And let's face it: both my kids survived for a year in a Chinese orphanage. Nothing fragile about a kid who can do that.

I found this essay interesting. My kids don't call the shots. The Dad and I are parents. They have firm bedtimes and rules around homework and screen time, television, computer and handheld devices. They are expected to be polite, say please and thank you and generally, act respectfully towards others. They do their homework nightly or we don't sign their organizers and they suffer the consequences. La Nina likes to test this one. We make them behave, but they are far from perfect. We're in charge, but we're giving them a lot of lee way.
We're letting our kids make decisions about their activities within reason. We're letting them decide how hard to study on optional school work. We've given them a voice in their causes from a very young age. And while I'm not sure that makes us liberal, I've always done this in order for them to feel okay about expressing their opinions and articulating their feelings in a respectful way. But may be this isn't always the best thing. So, I've been experimenting with a couple of concepts this week.

1.) Forcing a kid to do something they don't want to do for a purpose instills self-confidence. The poor Magster was my victim on this one. She has struggled to learn her times 3 multiplication table for months. She's a year ahead of herself in math, so I haven't worried about her lack of interest in learning her multiplication tables. But this week, I decided she was going to master the times 3. And let me tell you, she mastered her times 3 in one evening with a little Chinese mothering and 30 chocolate chips. Today she brought home her test with a 100%. She wasn't traumatized by me not letting her quit, and she was very happy she passed her test. I've already warned her, she'll learn her times 4 this week.

2.) Fun comes with hard work and achievement. La Nina got involved in this experiment. La Nina has been talking about taking next year off dance. I've been listening to her patiently and I've reached the conclusion she doesn't really want to quit. She just likes to talk about it. So, when she mentioned this the other night, I decided it was time to end her churn on this pointless conversation. As she stewed, I simply said. "You'll dance next year." She was appalled by my attitude. She demanded an explanation and all I said was, "You're going to dance because you'll have more fun doing that than anything else." She argued. She sulked. She told me I was mean. And after a few minutes of this, she agreed with me. There was no deep discussion. She accepted I was right. Again, Chinese Mothering, no worries about self esteem or letting her process. I just made the decision for her and ended the discussion. (Yes, I may regret this, but I know it's right for her.)

This article made me realize that it's okay to give my kids a good firm push every now and again. It's also okay not to listen to their noise. It's their job to make some noise, and it's my job to shut it down. However, I doubt I'll be threatening my kids with their Christmas if they aren't first in their class. I still think I'd rather have a happy kid, than a stressed out one. However, I have to admit, I'm curious about Amy Chua's book. Not sure I'm impose all of her methods, but a few may be worth trying.


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