Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tiger Mother, Jewish Mother

I have been interested in much of the discussion going on about Amy Chua's book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother". Boldly written and even more boldly marketed, the book posits that parenting with greater control is what kids need to be successful.

As the parent of two (now grown) children, I find myself worrying less and less about my parenting skills, yet, of course, still worrying about my kids. I am not a Tiger mother, but rather a Jewish mother. Jewish mothers worry, prod, feed, guilt (as a verb),coddle, kvell, did I say worry?, brag, complain, love, and, like all mothers, do the best we can. The reality is that kids arrive with no user manual, no set of directions, no help desk to call when all hell breaks loose. And so, we turn to books, to the customs in which we were raised, to friends, to classes, to family if we have them.

My generation of professionally successful parents, of professionally successful mothers pioneering our way through worklife balance/glass ceiling issues, is well known for our over-indulgence, for our attempting to give our kids absolutely everything because we could. Was this a good way to parent? Could a dose of Tiger mothering have helped? Maybe.

I love to brag about my kids, and I know I can get obnoxious about it. Like a writer of a Christmas letter, I rarely publicly carry on about their weaknesses or the ways they drive me crazy. Of course they have weaknesses and can drive me extremely crazy. Don't even get me started about this past week and a certain child of mine!

But I believe that even though I did not press them into performance in a Tiger motherish way, I did what I knew how to do, and they have graduated from college and childhood into being capable, independent, focused adults. And even more importantly, they are good people. And that is not exclusive to my Jewish mothering style, nor to any other culture of mothering. Amy Chua's approach is just that - her approach. There is no one way, and if there was, what a boring world it would be!

1 comment:

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