Happy Fatherhood

Self Esteem

I recently (ok, over a year ago) read Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

Her children are prodigiously successful in everything they dabble in. Actually, dabble is entirely the wrong word; they are prodigiously successful in everything they practice many hours a day, and have coaching under the best private tutors available. Straight A's at school is nothing - it's expected. Being top of their class is expected.

Chinese kids are disproportionately successful, and it's clear they don't get there by luck. Needless to say, a certain amount of confidence is inherent in being the best at everything.

On the other hand, China has a relatively high suicide rate, and it's not possible for everyone to live up to their parents' weighty expectations - by definition, only one child in a class can be top.

So that's one extreme.

The other extreme comes from the cult of psychobabble. COnsider the plight of young Thomas, under the heading of humpty dumpty, here.

The kid has been asked to stop hanging off a scale, lest he break it. Then the mum interjects with "because you're so strong" because his mum doesn't want him to feel that anything he's doing is unwanted, and it's just that he's too awesome for the puny scale.

I'm not an expert, but I do suspect poor old Humpty Dumpty is in for a tough time at school, as not everybody is going to rescue his self esteem when he needs correcting. The base level for resilience, is what you're used to.

To paraphrase Amy Chua, "Westerners start from the assumption your children are delicate. We start from the assumption, our children are strong." I have to admit, my personal philosophy is closer to Amy Chua's

Posted on 2014-01-31 12:38:22

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