Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tiger Mothers, Sometimes They Lose the Gamble

Last week this WSJ article about the superiority of Tiger Mothers made the rounds.  Read the article before proceeding.

Having not read the entire book, of which the article is an excerpt, I will have to take the author at her word that the WSJ lifted the worst bits and made the book sound more like a claim of superiority than the parental journey she claims.   (H/T Instapundit)  Since the question of the superiority of eastern or western mothering was posited, however, I'll address that, specifically Tiger mothering v. American mothering, which is what I know best.

First, as to the asserted superiority of Tiger Mothers, many have commented on this, see this why piano? post (also via Instapundit), for an example.  One blogger, however, aimed mercilessly.   As she noted, sometimes the parenting style pays off, but:
But sometimes you lose this gamble, and when you lose, you lose big. Because you've gone all-in. Left the kid no room to make friends, no identity outside of your ambitions, no tools or skills with which to make his or her own decisions in life without you -- and no margin of error.
That author tried to jump off a bridge a few years back.  Asian Week had an article on the rising suicide rates among Asian-Americans last year.  Apparently, the suicide trend affects women more.  More here.

Suicide and depression aren't the only dark sides to Tiger mothering either.  Think about creativity.  As the author above notes, Tiger mothering does not leave the child with skills to think for himself.  Nor does the education system, it seems.  Take a peek at this article What the iPhone Tells Us About Trade with China.  Note the bits about China employing low wage low skill labor and about intellectual property carrying the value of the iPhone and accruing to US companies.  How often do you think such a dynamic, Americans create something new and hire someone else to put it together, comes into play?

So what does this mean, practically speaking?

One of my favorite moments in movies is a scene from Apollo 13 that is so elementally American: the engineers have precious little time to make a square CO2 filter fit into a round hole using only the random items, duct tape (of course), flashlights, urine bags, vacuum suit etc. that the astronauts have on board.  Without grumbling they start organizing the stuff on the table, and someone says, "Better get some coffee going."

Perhaps Tiger Mother raised engineers could calculate the proper trajectory to the moon, and sling shot a dead rocket back to earth, but if they can't make a square peg fit into a round hole, the men die and the ship drifts off or incinerates.  No proper calculations will fix that.

Somebody had already written the counterweight book.

PJTV weighs in with some good commentary.


AHLondon said...

From Yasha: "sometimes they loose the gamble"? Loose? Maybe lose, although I like the evocative image of "loosing the gamble". Perhaps you were subconsiously imitating Caesar's "alea jacta est"?

No, I was simply blogging at 1am, against the better advice of my husband. Corrected.

TheMadHouse said...

I am popping over via cross the pond and I have to say I am with you on this. having lost both my parents, all I want for my children is happiness.