Not many people are going to like this but I have to confess that I actually enjoyed reading Amy Chua’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. I don’t agree with her 100% but I do agree with her on lots of points. When I read her book, I was not judging her or analyzing her. Also, I tried to see her point of view. I appreciate her honesty. It takes lots of courage to write such a book because you know you are going to be grilled for doing so. I appreciate this book because it gives me an idea of different perspectives as far as parenting style is concerned.
I agree with her that schoolwork must always come first. But for me, winning a medal or getting the highest grade is not the most important goal. I would love for my kids to win but I am absolutely fine with them losing too. This is because I feel failure is as important as winning. Always winning can make you very arrogant. Failing will make you a bit humble, compassionate and it has lot of lessons. I would prefer for my kids to learn how to deal with failure now rather than later in life. Unlike Amy Chua, I love playdates and I want my kids to participate in different activities like plays. My sister-in-law, Shikha, once said that it takes a village to grow up a child. I couldn’t agree more with her. I like my kids to be with their music teacher, art teacher, swim coach, my trusted friends, my relatives and learn from all of them. Also, whenever I drop off my kid for a playdate, it is understood that the rules of the hosting family will override our rules.
However, I concur with Amy Chua as far as TV or computer games are concerned. We have no TV in our living room. TV is so restricted in our house that whenever we watch TV it’s a big deal. We own no video games. I and my kids have no iPad as yet. Again, I concur with Amy Chua about the topic of kids’ choice. I feel when kids are small they don’t necessarily know what’s good for them. For example, Kabir wanted to learn guitar rather than piano. We told him that he needs to first learn piano because that’s the basic of western music. He can make a choice when he is 13. So, piano was not his first choice and was forced upon him initially. Now, he just absolutely loves it! Arjun is never interested in anything for the first time. Initially, I have to force him. Over time, he loves it and begs for more. There are so many things that I never wanted to do when I was little but now I wish my mother had forced me. While I will pursue their interest with much more vigor but they do not have a choice to avoid activities or subjects that we feel is vital for them. As kids get wiser, they are more able to make good choices and hence more freedom. I feel my job is to be a parent even if my kids don’t appreciate me at the moment but eventually they will understand. I am a parent and not a cheerleader. I am not in contest of winning their approval or vote all the time. At the same time, I do pick my battle. If Arjun still wants to drink in a sippy cup, it’s not worth a fight. I agree with Amy Chua that our kids are much stronger than we think. I think our expectations from our kids needs to be always a little higher than their own expectations and it might need adjusting depending on circumstances. Also, sometimes siblings are so different that a parent might need different parenting style with each one!
My parenting style is, I would say, hybrid – some of our family rules have Asian roots such as no sleepover other than with close cousins; and a part of my parenting style has American roots for example I do compliment my kids generously and I also do share their accomplishments on my blog (something I cannot imagine majority Asian parents to do and I don’t know if this is something I’ll regret down the road).
My parenting style is an evolving process. Nothing is written in stone. Every time, my husband and I try to discuss, assess and adjust. I try to learn from each and every parent I meet. I read this book during our surprise trip to Chicago and Kabir was in desperate need of a book. So, I let him read this book. He read about first 9 chapters of this book. When I asked him what did he think of Ms. Amy, he said, “She is too strict but she is a good mother.”
So, I definitely recommend this book!