Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tiger mother needs Tiger balm to soothe her senses

Amy Chua came up in conversation few weeks ago and that was the first I heard of this “tiger mother”. She is an America “author” (I believe the term is used very loosely nowadays. One book does not an author make. Well ‘technically’ it does, but author is such a commanding and awe inspiring profession-to me at least- I find it misused tremendously). Anyway, so back to Madam Amy Chua, a Chinese-American who has recently come out with a book called “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”. Here she states the golden parenting rules accordingly to her and it all basically boils down to “Push your kids to stretch their potential. As they are kids, and mum knows best. And yes, did I mentioned push them?”

Push to get A+ in school- Obviously Amy is not familiar with Singapore’s international schools where ‘we believe in developing the child’s personality and inner strength’ is a the mantra. Took me awhile to get used to that principle and not keep asking “Yes, sure. But when will he learn to read and spell?”

She even notes (and rightly so) that if a western child gets a B grade, his parents will probably be happy and congratulate him and may be a perfunctory “try harder next time but good job”. But in a Chinese household, hell would break loose and the mother would gasp in horror and demand to know “what happened?”

Pursue a hobby aggressively and competitively- Amy (who is a Yale lawyer by the way- guess being an over achiever paid off for her!) states in her book that a Western mum would get her child to practice the piano may be for 15 to 20 mins a day. But a Chinese mum knows that that’s the easy bit. Its next 2 hours that are critical ones. JEEZ!

And the Nazi ones- like no sleepovers, no play dates, no TV, no computer games…SERIOUSLY!

I have been hearing and reading a lot about Amy Chua and her book since then. On the web, in conversations and today Sunday Times has covered a whole section on her book. Many Singaporean-American mums have cried hoarse that Amy’s style does not reflect the general parenting patterns of Chinese mums.

Melvin Tan an opera pianist commented that Amy’s book brings focus on the white elephant which is-why Asian kids outperform Western kids at school. Errrr isn’t this like racial profiling? It may have an element of truth in it, but still a gross generalization!

Another columnist whose name escapes me (Colin Goh?) said that Amy’s style is closer to Genghis Khan than Chinese mums :)

And one other very rightly pointed out that ,what if a tiger mother gives birth to a kitten instead of a cub? Then would you not need to change your parenting style?

So now that so many people have so many reactions, I had to put in my 2 cents worth too. Like I always do. But only on subjects I am familiar with. You will never catch me talking about stock markets, tech gadgets, investments or anything remotely important like that. Because I do not like to talk about things I don’t know much about (don’t ask how I survive in advertising!). My views are restricted to the mundane and the frivolous.

So my first reaction was- FREAK! Who treats their kids like that? And which desi mum have you been hanging out with? Ok. THAT WAS A JOKE! But admit it! We all know such ‘First kyon nahin aaya’ Indian 'sherni' mums too.

And then my reaction was that she is either a publicity hound, or super brilliant. She is writing a book about parenting and criticizing Western mums parental techniques. And this is in America! Where they have an Oprah hangover and love discussing touchy-feely emotional issues on end. She would surely know that there would be massive public opinion and backlash.

So publicity hound. Or sheer brilliant way to increase book sales! People all over are talking about her and high chance they buy the book just coz of the hype.(Please dont! If you have massive urge borrow it from the library or a prison near you where the jailor is reading it to learn new tips)

For all you know, she is actually a pretty chilled mum who just had a fabulous business idea! ;) For such entrepreneurial skills, she should thank here Chinese upbringing.

On a serious note…if she really has raised her kids like that (and by the way, they are super smart and have turned out to be brilliant pianist and stuff like that), then good for her. She has raised the go getter kids she always wanted.

Now only if the kids also wanted to turn out this way…then it would be perfect. But something tells me, it may not be case. And that just makes me sad...Wish Amy knew that life trumps grades...

p.s. for all those interested in my super parenting skills, watch out this space!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

In 2011 I resolve to....

1) Lose weight and have a toned body- This is a default choice every year. And one that is toughest to keep. So here's hoping this year will be different...

2) Do it differently- Definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time. So here is to doing things differently this year and getting unexpected and desired results

3) Focus on the task and not the result- Karm kar, phal ki chinta na kar

4) Good Karmas rule- And this includes good thoughts too. Here is to remembering this when my mind is playing visual images of immediate annihilation for some people and things

5) Give people a chance- And have faith that they will see how right you are ;)

6) Keep the faith- And the belief, even when evidence points to the contrary

7) Believe more- In Krishna, in yourself and in the good of human kind

8) Be good- In deed, in thought and in spirit

9) Beckon the spirits- The non-alcoholic kind... and be more spiritual and zen-like

10) Stay zen-calm- NO MATTER WHAT (okie, that's a very tall order for me and even harder than resolution No.1). So aim to do it more often than in 2010

Here is wishing everyone a happy new year. May 2011 be everything 2010 desired to be but fell short of. And the good things that came to you in 2010, may they come back ten-fold in 2011!