Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tiger Mother

I haven't read this book, Tiger Mother, but it came on my radar when I was visiting my friend and her new baby. It's a book that's supposedly about Chinese parenting - or at least one Chinese-American's interpretation. The mother tells her children they're a big disappointment and not living up to her expectations of them. Huh, sounds a lot like Midwestern parenting!*

We practiced by telling the charming newborn what a failure and a disappointment she was and then laughing raucously (well, mostly just me and the dad, my friend could not even utter the words).

Judith Warner's review in NYT Magazine is worth reading, if only for the hilarious beginning paragraphs (even my baby wearing, co-sleeping friend agreed!):
There was bound to be some push back. All the years of nurturance overload simply got to be too much. The breast-feeding through toddlerhood, nonstop baby wearing, co-sleeping, “Baby Mozart” co-watching; the peer pressure for never-ending singsong-voiced Mommy niceness, the ever-maddening chant of “good job!”; compulsory school “involvement” (that is, teacher-delegated busywork packaged as a way to Show Your Child You Care), the rapt attendance at each and every school performance, presentation, sporting event — the whole mishmash of modern, attuned, connected, concerned, self-esteem-building parenting.

The reaction came in waves. There were expert warnings, with moralists claiming that all this loosey-goosey lovey-dovey-ness was destroying the hierarchical fiber of the American family, and psychologists writing that all that self-esteem building was leading to epidemic levels of pathological ninnyishness in kids. Then there was a sort of quasi-hedonist revolt, cries of rebellion like Christie Mellor’s “Three Martini Playdate,” mother-toddler happy hours (postpregnancy liberation from “What to Expect” sanctimony!) and take-the-kid-out-all-night hipster parenting. Then came “free range” parenting, an appellation with the added advantage of sounding both fresh and fancy, like a Whole Foods chicken; “simplicity parenting” (recession-era lack of cash dressed up as principled rejection of expensive lessons); and, eventually, a kind of edgy irritation with it all: a new stance of get-tough no-nonsense, frequently called — with no small amount of pride — being a “bad” mother.

read the article

*I kid, I kid. Sort of.

1 comment:

KHM said...

boy, this book has really caused a stir! I caught that article in the NYTimes and was pretty horrified---although...there is something very true about the need for "push back" in response to the hyper indulgence of kids whose mommies and daddies struggle with guilt burdens of various types and then have trouble saying "no" to desires/demands that are easily fulfilled.

I also caught the author recently on the Colbert Report; she's definitely scary and seriously back pedaling.... but maybe I should read the book.

There was an interesting segment recently on TAL regarding parental love and whether it matters, whether its harmful. Check it out; very interesting.