End of Future in Abundant Societies?

My child does not need to strive; he has it already. But is it a good starting point for his future?

I have just finished reading Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, with immediate feedback from my “Western” brought son: “You shouldn’t have read it.” Obviously, I was inspired by the book, which is now seen on the fridge door: my son has a list of tasks and requirements for each day he must fulfill. Very meager and a laughing-stock for a so-called “Chinese mom”, and worst, I am just like any Western mom: I give in to those requirements.

I agree with many notions made by Chua, despite the fact that she draws them to the extreme, but without a doubt, she provides a lot of thinking to us “Western” mothers. The book may tell one story of how to bring up a child the “Chinese” way, but for me, it more so opened my eyes on education as a phenomenon of cultural differences.

To be precise, Chua is not really Chinese. She was born in the US to parents, who had lived all their adult lives in the States, and whose parents had lived in the Philippines. Maybe Chua’s grandparents were brought up the original Chinese way, while in the Philippines in 1930’s – 40’s being a Chinese wasn’t something to be proud about and instead, America and American liberators (from the Japanese occupation) were hailed with happiness. School system became Americanized, and English the lingua franca in schools. Catholicism was left from the Spaniards. In other words, the Philippine cultural environment hardly supported the authentic Chinese upbringing. But a concession must immediately be made in that, the Chinese immigrants have been extremely protective over their cultural inheritance. In this light, one must not consider Chua’s methods as present day’s “Chinese parenting”, which she also remarks indirectly in several occasions. (My son was mistaken to be a girl in China because he “behaved so extremely well.” Consider the “Chinese parenting in China” from that aspect…hmm…)

Compared to my background, my grandparents may have worked hard for my parents’ future, while my parents didn’t really have to strive anymore for the future; me and my siblings had all necessary and so called “free education”. My child and his generation are living in an overly abundant world: he basically excels only to get a new lego.

An immigrant parent has nothing, (s)he is nothing in the new world, until (s)he works hard, hardest to attain a better position, a prominent future in the new society. They see the need for disciplined education as they dream for a better future for their children, and, they dare to demand more of their children. ‘Love’ is to see the potential in the child and push it. (Interestingly, Chua has dogs which have no potential and thus, they are hugged for merely fetching a stick.)

Is self-esteem created by crushing it time after time, or nourishing it even with immediate faults and failures? Human nature is weird: if there are no problems, one creates them. Are the psychological dilemmas all too common in the Western world, and simply unheard of in Asia, mere creations of an ample society?

Strategized parenting has never been on my agenda, but I am glad Chua shook this all-too-delicate an issue. I am not a tiger, nor immigrant of Chinese descent. Whether good or bad, in our house humor outwits many obstacles, when I embrace my snaky-son with my long monkey hands.

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