I finished reading this book the other day. I'm not sure it's something I would have picked up as keenly if a) I didn't live in China and b) I wasn't up the duff myself and keen to start learning a bit about different ways to do the world's most important job. But I was sure glad I did.
Amy Chua, the author, writes the book about her life as the Chinese mother of two girls. She is married to a white, American Jewish man and the book is the story of her battle to raise her girls the Chinese way. And basically, how the Chinese think Western approaches to parenting are plain shite.
She sees it as her duty, at any cost, to enable her kids to be the best. Plain and simple. She pushes her kids to be excellent, and won't accept anything but. She forces them to learn the piano, the violin and practice 6 hours each day, on top of school, homework and chores. She will not allow sleepovers, or playdates. She will not accept backchat, bad behaviour, public displays of discontent. Disrespect is a felony in her household. She belittles and criticizes until her daughters achieve. She is hard, firm, unrelenting. She doesn't care if her kids hate her. They simply have to be the best.
This is obviously in such contrast to Western parenting, where we are gently encouraged to find our own path, to explore the world and what it offers, to just do our best wherever that may get us, to simply be happy.
The book raised some serious questions for me about the 'best' way to raise a child. And made me question how the hell we are going to do it!?! I can see the merit in enabling (maybe even pushing) your child to see just how good they can be and therefore giving them the opportunity to feel that amazing feeling of success, but I can also see how destructive it could be to grow up feeling like you have to be good at something to feel good.
There is obviously no one right way to parent. We're all so different, have been raised so differently, and have different values. And I'm sure every parent before me has their opinions based on their experiences about what is the best way to do it. But it's certainly got me thinking about what I want for my child. And how, as a parent, I can do my best to make that happen. The responsibility and the impact I'm going to have scares the hell out of me, and as yet I've still got no answers to my own questions. But I am hoping (with fingers tightly crossed) that the fact I'm concerned about it at all means that I might be on the right track?
What do you think? What's your number one tip on parenting for a first-time mum like me?