Monday, February 27, 2012

I am a Western Parent

I am going to do something I typically don't do- write a book review because this was a topic I found to be very intriguing. Just finished reading this book called, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" for our ward book club. Boy! What an interesting read! Ever wondered why Asian kids seem to be good at EVERYTHING and are not just good, their always #1 and top of the class? I sure have, and this book certainly clarified why! Amy Chau writes about raising her two girls the "Chinese mother(or a lot of other Asian countries)" method in America, where the "Western Parent" dominates most other parenting methods. 

Instead of the attitudes we "westerners" have where the kids choose to go after whatever their interests are, Chinese parents give them a hobby (i.e. piano or violin) that will give them the best  chance at success. The children of Chinese parents practice way more than a typical American (3-4 hours vs. half hour piano practicing) and are expected to achieve near perfection.

This book made me realize that a lot of western parents seem to give up on their kids instead of sticking it through the hard times to make it to success. I am reminded of my own piano lessons and practicing where I HATED doing it, but my mom said I could quit once I got to level "XYZ". My mom was a pretty smart lady because once I got through all my books with every intention of quitting and finally made it to level XYZ, I was good enough then to enjoy piano and I continued on my own. However, I did not practice nearly as much as most Asian kids and therefore didn't come close to winning any competitions or anything of that sort. I have to argue with the Chinese mother parenting style a little bit because how many of us can all be child prodigies or win awards? If that's how everyone parents over there, how does anyone win anything at all? What happens if you don't get first place? From reading this book, not earning anything but "exceptional" is not tolerated nor accepted by the parents...but not everyone can be #1--so then what?

Anyway, although I don't exactly think my kids need to be scholars or child prodigies, I do feel like when they (or I) do choose an event to participate in, that I want them to not give up the second they don't like it- at least stick it out until they're at a point where they can clearly make the best decision. I would highly suggest reading this book even if you're not considering converting over to the Chinese parenting style, because it does give some insights as to how other cultures parent- which I'd never really put much thought into prior to reading this. I feel that as Americans, it is healthy and important for us to learn from and about other cultures in all aspects, and that if nothing else, it helps us to be more understanding individuals. If you do read it, I hope you learn and enjoy it as much as I did!


Samantha Ferrell said...

You asked how parents can have the expectation that a child achieve nothing but exceptional but wondered how they could be #1 and I just wanted to leave a note on that. In China, and other communist countries, there is no such thing as #1 for most hobbies/sports/etc. because the emphasis is on the team, not the individual. If the individuals are each exceptional in their own right, then the team should be outstanding.

The only reason I know this is from watching a movie about gymnasts in Korea called "A State of Mind." I HIGHLY recommend it--it's a real trip because the state of mind is so completely different that ours. It's streaming on netflix!

Rozanne said...

I have been interested in reading this book for quite some time and just haven't taken the time to pick it up. Now that you have reminded me again, I think I will pick it up. It is always good to see a different perspective.

peachytiffers said...

I enjoyed and had a hard time reading this book. During reading and after I was DYING to talk to someone about it! That mother was hard core. I agree with you, a gave up on violin, piano, and many other things and I really wish I had been encouraged more to just stick with it for a while longer. Now, as an adult, I feel like I need to start all over again. It also clashes with my Montessori-type parenting/teaching which focuses more on following the child's likes and desires and through that they will unlock and retain so much more than if we just push them to learn what we want/need them to learn. In the end, I felt like she was pushing them to do something because of her childhood issues, because of her desires, and/or because she wanted to flaunt them around as well as have them feel successful. They did do some amazing things though, I just didn't like her "my parenting is better than your parenting even though my children missed their childhood and might hate me a little" attitude.