Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Over the holidays, I re-read "World on Fire,  How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability" by Amy Chua to see if I my understanding had changed after a number of years of travel.

Afterwards, I also decided to re-read her much more controversial book on child rearing, just for fun.  It was my third reading and I have to admit, each time has felt more startling.

I'm not interested in entering into a discussion about pros and cons.  But most will probably admit, the book generates emotion.  I couldn't help thinking how my personal outcome could have differed had I grown up with a Mother who was educated, who sat with and coached me.

But the reality is I didn't have such a Mother.  There was no yelling and screaming to get me to practice piano.  I was simply told that there would be no reminder to practice.  It was all on me.  If I didn't do so, then no more piano lessons because there was no money to be wasted if I wasn't serious.  Simple.  My brother didn't, so he didn't last beyond grade 5.

Same approach for homework.  There was no nagging, barely remember if I was ever asked about it.  And I knew my parents, who hoped for the best for us, couldn't really help anyways (my Dad was able to help with Calculus later on).  I would come home after school, practiced piano, help with supper and then do homework.  As I got older, I cooked and cleaned and did the yard work too.

Would that be considered neglect now?  I would like to think not because it made me think and take responsibility at a young age whether you believe a 7 year old could make such a decision or not.  But I felt I could and did.

I was far from coddled as a child.  Had to amuse myself most of the time because there wasn't a lot around outside of lessons and school.  Almost all my hobbies and interests were initiated by me, with the exception of ballet which was suggested by an Aunt who thought I had terrible posture and target shooting courtesy of an Uncle.  I learned to love them both too.

In fact, I still love all kinds of teaching and continue to absorb info like a sponge.  Would I have more confidence to perform in public, more ambition if I had a "Tiger Mom?  Or would I have rebelled, like her younger daughter?  The part about Lulu, defiantly standing outside in the cold at age 5 rather than comply and be a "good girl" -- That's So Me!    

What the book showed me this time around is, with force alone, kids can learn many skills, proving to themselves they can achieve much with perseverance.  But it also shows that Ms Chua didn't want to chance it and see for herself what her 2 very bright daughters had within for self motivation in the first place.

I would be curious to discover what they would be able to come up with on their own first before encouragement or suggestion, but that's just me blabbing away as an outsider.

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