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Finding the Middle

by Michele | January 12th, 2011 | Elementary

There’s been a lot of discussion both on and off the Internet about Saturday’s article in the Wall Street Journal, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.  As a mom of four children, I read the article with interest, wondering what it was I needed to do to be a better mother.  After reading the article, I decided that I am doing a fine job and that Chinese mothers aren’t superior.  However, the current trend of treating our children like deities isn’t superior either.

The way Ms. Chua described parenting her children was shocking to me.  At no point should a child be deprived of bathroom use or meals in order to perfect a skill.  Sure, take away a snack because your child misbehaves, but deny basic bodily needs because you can’t master a piano piece?  Even maximum security prisoners aren’t treated that poorly.

The opposite sort of parenting, to which Ms. Chua refers, also is shocking to me.  With four children, I am often in the company of other parents.  I find it amazing the things that parents do for their children to protect them from the typical parts of growing up.  Some examples: parents of high school students typing papers for their children, elementary school parents asking to have their child’s class placement changed to be with friends.  And it’s not only the parents.  Attend a sporting event, and you will see numerous trophies given.  Recently, at a competitive sporting event, I saw medals handed out through the 18th place winner.  18th place, really?

So, what is a parent to do?  Take the strict, accept no failure style of Ms. Chua, or take the worry about their self-esteem, pander to them style of modern America?  I say neither.  Instead I would encourage you to find the middle.  As a former elementary teacher and as a mom, I have seen this style of parenting work.

How do you do this?  You set reasonable expectations for your children, and you encourage them to reach them.  You encourage via love and kind words when possible and through logical consequences when needed.  You let your child grow up, adding responsibility with age, letting them learn (even getting a few skinned knees), and letting them know you love them.

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