Do you believe in your children more than anyone else–even more than they believe in themselves?

by Anne Hart

Do you, as a mom believe in your children more than anyone else—even more than they believe in themselves? Are you strict, but loving or just strict with not so much loving? Or are you loving and rewarding, but not strict? Is your goal to help your children do the best they can with what the children have to offer?

What happens when Sacramento mothers respond to the recent Wall Street Journal articles by Amy Chua, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior?” According to the Wall Street Journal article, Amy Chua is a professor at Yale Law School and author of “Day of Empire” and “World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability.” The Wall Street Journal essay is excerpted from “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua, to be published this week by the Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Is it an ethnic custom in Sacramento or anywhere else to demand excellence in school work from your children at all grade levels? Also check out the website, “The Tiger Mother Responds to Readers.” The term “Chinese Mother” also applies to Japanese and Korean mothers.

The reason many people in Sacramento want to read this Wall Street Journal article/essay is because in every university in California, most Asian students do very well. Is it because their mothers make sure they get all straight ‘A’s by telling them they dishonor their family if they get lower grades? Are the children prodded into getting high grades by being called names that would intimidate most people not used to having demanding parents who demand the best from their offspring? What do you Sacramentans think?

Read the article link first, and then compare the technique many Asian mothers use to coax their children into doing excellent work in school, including working hard to receive high grades in college. But what does this do to the children’s creativity and spark to learn other than by rote? Is there a secret to the children’s success?

Usually, you won’t find many Asian students majoring in drama and musical theater or education. But you may find those not majoring in the hard sciences, math, engineering, medicine, and economics actually majoring in classical music such as playing the violin or piano.

And with their superior spatial abilities developed by writing those Chinese or Japanese and Korean lettering characters, or using an abacus to do speed mathematics in elementary school, you’ll find superior illustrators, engineering designers, software developers, animation artists, and architects. Yes, there are some novelists who do major in creative writing, but usually they’re women who write when young do write best-selling novels.

So is it the mothers who can be congratulated? Or is it the inherited intelligence of the children that would have majored in what they chose with or without being told what to do? According to the Wall St. Journal article, “… the vast majority of the Chinese mothers said that they believe their children can be “the best” students, that “academic achievement reflects successful parenting,” and that if children did not excel at school then there was “a problem” and parents “were not doing their job.” Other studies indicate that compared to Western parents, Chinese parents spend approximately 10 times as long every day drilling academic activities with their children. By contrast, Western kids are more likely to participate in sports teams.”

For Sacramento mothers, the problem is what to do if the child wants to be in a school play or participate in sports. What if the child has an average IQ score or is told he or she is 10 to 20 points below average and is told his or her intelligence and capabilities is average? Do intelligence tests mean anything? Or what can the average Sacramento mother do if a child is learning disabled or always has trouble with school work, no matter how hard he or she tries? Does a mother just tell the child to “do the best you can with what you have?”

Instead of telling a child “you’re garbage” if the child gets a low grade, what if a Sacramento mother tells the child with the low grade, “you’re too good for that low grade?” What if a mother says, the real world out there will reward you for success in school, but only if you have the ‘right’ major which is changeable as the economy’s need for your skills change?

How would you talk to a child who gets a low grade? Would you reward the child for getting the best grade he or she can with whatever abilities he or she has? Or would you call the child names to make the child feel he or she has disgraced the family’s honor or reputation in the eyes of other family members or the public? After all, the outcome any parent wants is for the child to succeed.

As a Sacramento mother, would you tell the child he or she would be rewarded for high grades with a gift such as a musical instrument or a scholarship? Or would you demand excellence from a child you know has limited intelligence to succeed in college? As another choice, would you ignore outside advice that your child has limited academic intelligence and instead steer your child into learning how to make a lifetime income from a hobby?

After all, almost every mom in Sacramento wants her child to grow up to be financially independent, pull his or her own weight, and pay back to the community what the community has given the child in the way of economic success. What kind of excellence do you demand from your child, here in Sacramento, regardless of any ethnic customs regarding success in school or in the world of work? What comes first, the health of your child or high grades as a stepping stone to financial independence?

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