I’ve been reading with fascination, this talk over whether strict Chinese mothers are the best kind of mothers because of the way they choose to bring up their children. Amy Chua sparked an online debate with her wall street journey essay on ‘Why Chinese mothers are superior’ which is an excerpt from her new book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.
Amy reels off a list of things her daughters were never allowed to do which includes being in a school play, complaining about not being in a school play, getting any grade less than A and playing any instrument other than the violin or piano. At the age of nearly 2 Oli has already done both sleepovers and watch TV something both Sophia and Louisa never did as young children.
This is where I disagree with strictness, there’s being strict, and then there’s just simple spitefulness on the parent’s behalf. It’s hard to comment on too much as there is a case of Western vs Chinese where each type of culture covers many different varieties of parents. There are differences between cultures/beliefs/upbringings that play a huge part on when it comes to parents and the upbringing of their children. I’m a western parent growing up in the 21st century in an environment which isn’t riddled with war, poverty-stricken or an environment where you need to succeed at a young age to get somewhere in life. To me being strict is an aspect which is only displayed when needs are. Strict is used when my child has done something wrong and needs a stern word on how naughty that is. Strict is a punishment in the form of time out or a few minutes on the naughty step.
What strict isn’t to me is stopping my child from being a child. Of course, I want the very best for him, I have done from the moment I found out I was expecting. I would love for him to grow a well educated, well spoken young man who has done well for himself. I will be there pushing him along, but from a back bench. University will be an option for him if he wants its to be and gets the necessary grades for it to be an option. How can any parent deprive their child of appearing in a school play? I have many fond memories of being a young girl playing many roles and even not so fond memories of me wetting myself on stage at the age of 6.
I understand Amy’s parenting though, as much as a disagree with it and no it’s not a path I could go down, I understand her need for her children to succeed in life, what parent doesn’t share that kind of aspiration for their child. But childhood only comes along once in a lifetime; I want my son and any other future children to look back on there child days with fond memories of fun and play and not having a strict mother breathing down there neck. If Oli wants to learn to play the drums at schools like both his Father and I did, then he can, if he doesn’t want to play any kind of instrument that’s ok with us – after all it’s his life and his childhood.
What do you think? Are strict mothers the best kind of parent?