I have a big head. I don’t mean metaphorically, I mean my head is larger than the majority of other people. “One Size Fits All” hats don’t properly fit on my head. I have to stretch them out a little bit to get them to fit. A “One Size Fits All” philosophy isn’t so bad with hats; it is a bad idea when it comes to parenting.
If it were so simple to “correctly” raise a child we would have figured it out a long time ago. It isn’t that easy though and there isn’t a “One Size Fits All” that actually fits all heads or children.
I’m writing about the controversy that came up with Amy Chua’s “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” but I’m not arguing about the book’s content. I don’t think the content of her book is as important as our response to it. We take it as an attack on our “western” parenting methods or as a contender for the answer to “how do you correctly raise a child.”
I have not the book, but I grew up with a friend whose parents were Chinese immigrants (like the family in the book) and pushed him to succeed well in school and in music. He ended up tutoring me on violin when we played in orchestra together in Junior High because he was so far ahead of me on the instrument.
While his parents expected him to do well in school and practice violin, they also let him have a social life. We would hang out and watch movies, play video games, shoot hoops, and do all sorts of other normal kid stuff. We even had sleep-overs every so often.
I’m lead to believe it’s not the negative reinforcement within the “Tiger” parenting philosophy that helps kids succeed, but rather the positive encouragement and high expectations that can help kids want to succeed. It’s not pushing a kid that scares people; it’s the authoritarian approach that we find upsetting. We don’t want to push them too hard.
An Amazon.com search for the word “parenting” brings up 61,174 results in books alone. Tens of thousands of people have written books on how to raise a child “correctly.” That’s an awful lot of answers to a straight-forward question. Could it be that we’re having such a hard time finding the right answer because there isn’t one?
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