Parenting is never easy. As a mother of 3 (ages 30, 27, and 18), I can honestly say that I have had to handle each child differently along the way. My 18 year old son was always the most stubborn of my children. The parenting style that worked for my other two does not work on him. At times I am at my wit’s end, trying to figure out what I am doing wrong.
When he was younger, I would put him in the corner for back talking me, and he would say, “Good…I want to go into the corner”. He has always known exactly what to say to push my buttons. He would throw tantrums if he didn’t get his way. He has always hated school, but made good grades in the subjects he liked. I would never make him come straight home from school and do homework. I thought that if he could come home and have a snack and relax for awhile first, it would clear his mind a bit before starting his homework. Still, getting him to study or do homework was nearly impossible. I got so tired of the fight that I would often give in and then berate myself for being such a bad mother. I felt like he was controlling me instead of me controlling him. It never seemed to matter if I was a stay-at-home mom or a working mom. I have done both over the course of his growing up years. He has had a stable home for the most part, and has lived in the same house in Charlotte, NC ever since he was born.
Over the course of raising my child, I would talk to the parents of other kids his age, and I would see that some were much stricter than me. They had rules such as no TV or video games during the week, no sports or music lessons unless their grades were an “A”. They were not allowed to go outside and play until all homework was finished. As strict as those rules sounded to me, they seemed to be working. These children were well-behaved, made excellent grades, and were often accomplished athletes or musicians as well. Still, I could never make myself be that rigid in my parenting. It just wasn’t my style. I have often wondered if my kids have suffered because I was not stricter. Perhaps they would have been more goal-oriented and would have excelled more if I had not been quite so permissive. My son recently graduated from high school and is planning on joining the military. I can’t help but wonder what his plans would be had I been like one of those other, stricter parents.
The book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Yale Law Professor Amy Chua is a shocking first person account of Chua’s raising of her 2 teenage daughters. What makes the book so shocking to me is the demeaning, humiliating way that Chua speaks to her daughters, calling them names and threatening them. Her style is rigid with very little room for error.
I have known parents who used verbal assaults, humiliation and threats as a way of getting their children to obey. It is hard for me to see how any kind of emotional abuse can ever result in something positive. In my opinion, Amy Chua crosses the line into emotional abuse. My husband’s father called him “stupid” and “dumb” during the course of his growing up. The pain from those 2 words is so deeply ingrained in him that his self-esteem is totally shattered. Whoever said that words do not hurt was very mistaken.
Amy Chua’s parenting style is over the top. Whereas some parts are acceptable, others are not. There is nothing wrong with making children study and limiting their free time to a certain extent. I believe this is important to help teach children self-discipline and also important to teach them that hard work will be rewarded. There is, however, something wrong with verbal assault, threats, and humiliation. Words do hurt, and can sink deep into a child’s psyche, affecting him throughout his adult life.