According to Time magazine, Amy Chua is one of them. She made her 7-year-old daughter, Lulu, practice her violin for hours on end, straight through dinner and into the night with no breaks, until at last, Lulu learned to play the piece. Later, when Lulu gave her mom a homemade birthday card, Amy rejected it saying she expected a card that had more effort put into it. She knew Lulu was capable of more — so she literally wouldn’t take it from her daughter. To say Amy is demanding would be a huge understatement.
I know, I know. You’re like many others who think this style of parenting is over-the-top. Far too strict. Too military in its flavor. Where’s the love and compassion? Amy says in her book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, it’s all about love and compassion. She learned this style of parenting from her mom and dad: “By disciplining me, my parents inculcated self-discipline. And by restricting my choices as a child, they gave me so many choices in my life as an adult. Because of what they did then, I get to do the work I love now.”
We bristle because this style flies in the face of popular parenting styles today. You know — the style that affirms the kid constantly, even when all they did was show up at a recital; the kind that gives ribbons and trophies for merely playing the game; or claps for their kid because mom wants them to always be happy. According to Amy Chua, her parents didn’t think about their child’s happiness. “They thought about preparing us for the future.”
In the 2008 book, A Nation of Wimps, Hara Estroff Marano reveals evidence that shows Chua is correct. “Research demonstrates that children who are protected from grappling with difficult tasks don’t develop what psychologists call ‘mastery experiences,’” Marano explains. “Kids who have this well-earned sense of mastery are more optimistic and decisive; they’ve learned they are capable of overcoming adversity and achieving goals.” Kids who have never tested their abilities grow into emotionally brittle young adults who are more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.
Tomorrow, I’ll go deeper into this style and what I think — but for now, let me know your thoughts. Is this style far too extreme? Or is it a stroke of genius?