As I sat at the dining table last night with my five year old doing homework I kept thinking could I be considered a "Tiger" mother? would I even live up to the expectations of one?
It was a typical day in our home, the daily tasks had been taken care of and the evening was settling in. That is when I felt it was time to tackle our 10 - 15 minutes of daily homework. At our school we get a homework packet every Monday and have until Friday to return it complete. We have more than enough time during the week to complet the assignments. We have our daughter in ice skating which she goes to every Wednesday, other than that she is "free" to play and do whatever it is she chooses during the rest of the week as long qas she spends her 15 minutes on her assignments each day. Yes, we do playdates. No, we don't allow sleepovers only because we feel she is too young to participate in one and then again when she has had one with cousins we end up driving at midnight to pick her up...
My husband was home and entertaining our one year old while we got to writing. For some reason our daughter -even with practice every single day- has trouble with her penmanship. Don't get me wrong, she does write pretty well and long sentences but still struggles writing the "perfect" letters and sometimes you have a hard time understanding what she is trying to write! Our teacher provided us over the break with a handout from "writing without tears" needless to say she still has trouble with her "s" and "n" not to mention "i" which she does so from bottom to top opposite to top to bottom.
All I could hear myself say or do was "No, let's erase and do it again!" and yet again... and again... this went on for a solid 30 minutes. I could've let it go, but for some reason I knew deep in my heart that she can do better! this is when I couldn't resist thinking would Amy Chua consider me a "Tiger mother"? I was pushing my daughter's limit and yes I did in one occasion say "We are not getting up from this table until you DO it right!" to which our daughter responded in tears "but what if my eyes close? what if I have to go potty?" My response was not in line with Chua's standards. I repplied "You may go potty and drink water, but we are not leaving this table until you write 3 sentences without the "S" having a larger bottom swirl!". Finally after 35 minutes we had our 3 almost perfect sentences printed on our paper.
I may seem harsh to other parents and even to my husband and family, but why not push a little bit more if you are certain your child can achieve more? As we reviewed her writing all my daughter could say "look mommy I did it!" She was proud, as was Chua's daughter once she perfected the piano piece that caused so much controversy from her new book.
While growing up in a Hispanic household in both The United States and Mexico I can say parents were very strict. We did have playdates, sleepovers began in sixth grade, homework's were always done. We weren't told to get straight A's or to be in the honor role but a decent B or even C would suffice to their expectations. We had to be ready for breakfast at 7:00 a.m. every weekday and out the door to school at 7:30 a.m. At home we had to keep our bedrooms tidy, beds made, do our own laundry at the age of 10. We were not allowed to wear makeup until we were 15 years old or date until we were 18 years old. In Mexico when you turn 18 years of age you are considered legal to drink and smoke and vote. Even though we were allowed to go out with friends and date we still had a midnight curfew, something that didn't sit well with friends who would call me "Cinderella" or my husbands nieces who were in their late teens and could stay out until 2:00 a.m.
Still I never complained, I was always complaint with all the rules of our home. The demands our family had and the expectations our family had of me. I have always tried to avoid bending or even breaking rules, it's against my nature. My mother always said "You're a daughter now, you will be a mother then and you will see what it is to be one" those words are so true! As a parent it is our responsibility to guide, discipline and help our children how to reach their goals.
I can understand why Chua believes that the new generations are not reaching their full potential. When the United States is ranked #33 in a world test on Mathematics, Science while Singapore is ranked #1 along with other Asian Countries.
I can't say if Chua is right or wrong. I believe that every parent is unique in their own way and has their own set of rules. I respect how each parent raises their child and in no way am I criticizing how a child is raised. That is not my point here, what I would like to bring your attention to is why are we so worried of what other parents think of us?
Every parent has expectations for their child from the moment they are in the womb you can hear a father say "if it's a boy he could be the next quarterback!" or a mother say "she will be the next ballerina" and so on. We all dream and expect our children to become a success story when they grow up. There is nothing wrong with that.
I do agree that our culture could be a little more concerned about future generations, specially when I listen to kids be disrespectful of others and have a sense of entitlement every where they go. I could say the media has portrayed bad examples with programs that make being intoxicated by alcohol fun! or getting into a fist fight appealing. Yes I am talking about the shows our teenagers and even tweenagers are exposed to. Yes the Media has to change but it won't unless we are parents begin being responsible of age apropriate tv for our children. Our five year old does know who Hannah Montana is, however she is not allowed to watch because it is a show targeted to a specific age group. This may seem strange to some parents who have 4 year olds singing the latest song with pride! When a little girl we know was 3 years old she knew the lyrics to Lil' Wayne's newest song "Lollipop!" have you ever heard that song? have you ever paid attention to what it says?
The poem that since I first read has always been in my mind is:
"WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING, I SAW YOU HANG MY FIRST PAINTING ON THE REFRIGERATOR, AND I IMMEDIATELY WANTED TO PAINT ANOTHER ONE.
WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING, I SAW YOU FEED A STRAY CAT, AND I LEARNED THAT IT WAS GOOD TO BE KIND TO ANIMALS.
WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING, I SAW YOU MAKE MY FAVORITE CAKE FOR ME AND I LEARNED THAT THE LITTLE THINGS CAN BE THE SPECIAL THINGS IN LIFE.
WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING, I HEARD YOU SAY A PRAYER AND KNEW THERE IS A GOD I COULD ALWAYS TALK TO AND I LEARNED TO TRUST GOD.
WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING, I SAW YOU MAKE A MEAL AND TAKE IT TO A FRIEND WHO WAS SICK, AND I LEARNED THAT WE ALL HAVE TO HELP TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER.
WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING, I SAW YOU GIVE OF YOUR TIME AND MONEY TO HELP PEOPLE WHO HAD NOTHING AND I LEARNED THAT THOSE WHO HAVE SOMETHING SHOULD GIVE TO THOSE WHO DON'T.:happy
WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING, I FELT YOU KISS ME GOOD NIGHT AND I FELT LOVED AND SAFE.
WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING, I SAW YOU TAKE CARE OF OUR HOUSE AND EVERYONE IN IT AND I LEARNED WE HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF WHAT WE ARE GIVEN.
WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING, I SAW HOW YOU
HANDLED YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES, EVEN WHEN YOU DIDN'T FEEL GOOD AND I LEARNED THAT I WOULD HAVE TO BE RESPONSIBLE WHEN I GROW UP.
WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING, I SAW TEARS COME FROM YOUR EYES AND I LEARNED THAT SOMETIMES THINGS HURT, BUT IT'S ALRIGHT TO CRY.
WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING, I LEARNED MOST OF LIFE'S LESSONS THAT I NEED TO KNOW TO BE A GOOD AND PRODUCTIVE PERSON WHEN I GROW UP.
WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING, I LOOKED AT YOU AND WANTED TO SAY, THANKS FOR ALL THE THINGS I SAW, WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING."
We teach our children by example, this applies to everything from words to actions. I admit that I may disagree with being very strict but if it weren't for my strict parents and their expectations I wouldn't be where I am at now. I wouldn't have achieved most if not all of my professional goals. I am still trying to achieve success as a parent. Every day counts toward reaching that goal. I will not know until both my kids are adults and venture out to the world.
I am still on the waiting list at the Library to read Chua's book and can't hardly wait to do so, why you may ask? I guess because I feel that this will give me some insight to understanding a culture that is motivated to achieve being #1. I have always been fascinated by other cultures and traditions. That is why I choose to study International Business Management.