Compare and Contrast

 Posted by on 14 January 2011 at 8:00 am  Culture, Ethics, Parenting
Jan 142011
 

Law professor Amy Chua on Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior:

Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything. The reason for this is a little unclear, but it’s probably a combination of Confucian filial piety and the fact that the parents have sacrificed and done so much for their children. (And it’s true that Chinese mothers get in the trenches, putting in long grueling hours personally tutoring, training, interrogating and spying on their kids.) Anyway, the understanding is that Chinese children must spend their lives repaying their parents by obeying them and making them proud.

Yup, that’s the parenting philosophy that she praises. And, surprise surprise, the method of inculcating that involves a kind of ongoing psychological warfare with the child, one that sometimes becomes a pitched physical battle. Her glowing description of how she brutalized her daughter into playing a difficult piano piece that seemed simply beyond the child’s capacity for two-handed coordination is just horrifying.

On the same day that I read that essay, I read a rather different kind of essay by Rose on finding ways to make math and reading fun for her young daughter. Rose is a homeschooling Objectivist mom who I had the pleasure of meeting, along with her daughters, while in Boise recently. Because I played a bit with the daughter in question, I can easily see just how awful attempting to demand that the child “just sit down and learn, dammit” would have been for them … or anyone nearby.

I’ve seen some excellent commentaries on Ms. Chua’s essay — particularly from the devastated adults who were parented by the method she extols. It’s heartbreaking to hear from people who struggle to find passion in work or life because their parents systematically destroyed any capacity to choose and pursue personally meaningful values.

Thankfully, Paul wasn’t raised by such parents. He would have rebelled in a major way… and knowing his stubborn streak, the results would not have been pretty.

   
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