Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tiger Mom

This recent article has been weighing on my mind lately and yes, I might as well join forces with my mommy bloggers and speak up. But rather than judge the parenting tactics or defend my own way of doing things, I want to get to what this article really stirred up inside me.

I think the motives of encouraging (and at times forcing) your kids to practice their craft (musical instrument, sport, etc.) are pure -- it's for their own good. My job is to expose my kids to a variety of activities that will give them the opportunity to develop skilz. Problem is that nobody really enjoys learning to do something, the enjoyment comes from already knowing how to do it (at a basic level) and learning to master it. People who are forced into doing something they dislike will naturally resist and that's how the coercive and manipulative parenting techniques enter the foray (yes, I'm all Colorosso here -- no bribes, threats, rewards, or punishments).
So is the alternative to just let them quit? It's contrary to how I was raised -- "perseverance before all else!" And yet when I think about how pressured I felt to continue figure skating ("look at all the sacrifices we've made and the money and time we've invested") years after it stopped being enjoyable, I shudder at the thought of forcing my kids to stick to something because it's expected of them.

Then again, some would say that it's just plain 'ol lazy parenting to let your kids quit prematurely. I can relate to this too. Anytime my daughter gives up in frustration while trying something challenging, like doing a puzzle FFS, I let her move on to something else. I just want PEACE and my little angel is fiery hot like her mama. Force her to do anything and everyone pays for it. This article also says that left to their own vices, children will choose to waste their time watching TV or pursuing other leisurely activities. I agree -- we are all inherently lazy.

So what to do? I'm not going to relent from the 'gentle discipline' style of parenting we've chosen -- I believe in my heart that it's the right thing to do. Maybe I can lead by example? When was the last time the kids saw me twinkling the ivories or playing my sport? Maybe we can do some of these things together? We also try to send the message that once you've made a commitment to an activity, you're expected to attend for the duration of the season and that you don't have to continue if you'd rather not, which I suppose is a compromise between the two approaches?

Unfortunately, I don't think this blog post has really helped me sort this out -- I am still torn. In the end I want it all -- I want them to be happy AND successful. Here's hoping that our parenting inconsistencies will get us there.

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