I recently read a couple of articles in the Wall Street Journal regarding parenting. It was a refreshing view of lifestyles that compared stereotypical Chinese (or Eastern) parenting versus stereotypical Western parenting. There was a rebuttal article as well defending Western parenting.
The gist of the original article is the Chinese standards are higher and parents are fully vested and live in order for their children to succeed in academia and “acceptable” extracurricular activities. Western standards are described as unacceptably low. Protecting children’s self esteem and fostering participation in team sports is seen as a negative from the Eastern perspective of direct talk. The climax of the story describes a mother’s attempt to help her daughter learn a particular piano piece for a recital.
The rebuttal article gets into success despite the lack of Eastern rigor. It acknowledges the limited involvement of parents, but stresses that internally motivated goals may be more valuable than edicts. The climax of the article describes a child’s attempt to overcome a learning disability despite the parents saying maybe you should slow down.
Overall, I came away with an affirmation of the belief that children are reflections of their parents and peer groups. I came from a hardworking home that believed perfection was achievable in academic undertakings. I also experienced that participation in physical fitness and spiritual undertakings were essential for a well balanced life. I take it as a compliment when my sister or someone else says that I am similar in any way to my Father.
Unfortunately I am not fully vested in my children’s development. I read to them less than I would like to and don’t play with an intent to develop their hand eye coordination and physical fitness. I also come up short of my standard of exposing them to spirituality. I am quite content to turn on cartoons for them in the evenings and half heartedly read a book on the few occasions that I put them to sleep. I am also accepting of back talk and inconsistent with discipline. If I am willing to change, I can propose a high standard for my children as well.