Tuesday, January 18, 2011

She is Tiger Mom; hear her roar

It's fun to think about what would have happened to legendary musicians and actors if Amy Chua had been their mother.

John Lennon never would have founded The Beatles, but he'd probably be a great violinist. Somewhere.

Dustin Hoffman never would have starred in such classic films such as "The Graduate" or "Midnight Cowboy," but might have been a great math teacher at your favorite state university.

Amy Chua, a Yale law professor, is enjoying her 15 minutes of fame right now for being a "tiger mother," a term she apparently coined to describe the type of parenting to which she subscribes, which, in effect, is Mother From Hell.

Last week, an excerpt from her book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," appeared in the Wall Street Journal. It has caused a firestorm of punditry.

According to the Journal, some tenets of her parenting style:

Children are not allowed

-- to attend a sleepover

-- to have a playdate

-- to be in a school play

-- to complain about not being in a school play

-- to watch TV or play computer games

-- to choose their own extracurricular activities

-- to get any grade less than an A

-- to not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama

-- to play any instrument other than the piano or violin

-- to not play the piano or violin.

Last time I checked, the piece had drawn more than 6,800 comments, most of which were negative.

I am of the firm belief that no two sets of parents parent exactly alike and during the course of my parenting years tried to refrain from passing judgment. But it's safe to acknowledge there are plenty of bad parents out there and that parents -- not schools -- are/were the primary driving force behind successful adult children.
 One commentator pointed out that Amy Chua's book is premature because her two daughters, Sophia and Louisa, are still in their teens and one cannot judge the style of parenting until the children are emancipated (good word in this case) and begin to leave their mark on the world.

(And even passing judgment then is dicey. How does one kid in five not succeed when the other four did?)

I think Sophia and Louisa will get as far away from their mother as possible. And maybe they will write their own book some day. Maybe they'll call it "Living With A Wild And Really Crazy Tiger Mom."

Plenty has been written in the aftermath of the publication of Chua's book excerpt. The New York Times' David Brooks calls her a wimp for protecting her children from the rigors of socialization, which is where one really proves his/her mettle.

Are sleepovers a learning experience? You bet. Ask any young woman to reflect on her middle school years. She'll tell you.

You can check out other links by going to Amy Chua's Wikipedia page.

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Thank goodness for Google. On Martin Luther King Day, it seems everyone on Facebook posted at least one MLK quotation. Some FB'ers posted one an hour. Or so it seemed.

Let me pose a rhetorical:

You and a friend are enjoying adult beverages at the local pub. The discussion turns to politics and your friend leans over the table and declares: "This country will be a lot better off when we get that f------ n----- out of office."

Would you have the courage to call out your friend on his blatantly racist comment? Or not?

We'll turn the corner in this country when such an incident is unheard of and unfathomable.

And that brings me to my favorite MLK quotation: "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

* * *

Putting the editor hat back on.

I was taken aback when I saw this headline in the local paper: Drifter dies in electric chair for 1919 shooting.

Whoa, I thought. Talk about the wheels of justice turning slowly. When I clicked on the headline, I realized it was the headline over Jon Baker's popular history column.

In the art of headline writing, a present-tense verb actually means immediate past. A past-tense verb actually means historical past. A better headline would have been Drifter died in electric chair for 1919 shooting.

And in my last post I asked whether you would have eliminated this passage in a Plain Dealer story on a gubernatorial inauguration celebration:

(Lt. Gov.-elect Mary) Taylor, 44, looking like a Hollywood star in black satin pants, a black leather jacket, low-cut black-and-white blouse and a pink and glittery silver necklace, said that she appreciated the people of Ohio.

Had the story not provided details of other party-goers' fashions, I would have eliminated the Taylor passage. But since it did, Taylor's fashion statement was fair game.

* * *
Some quick hitters:

-- New Philadelphia resident and former state tax commissioner Joanne Limbach has been quoted recently in the Columbus Dispatch and the AARP Bulletin regarding the $8 billion budget deficit Ohio is facing. She is an excellent resource and I would encourage local folks who want to know how the budget process works to invite her to speak to their club or organization. I think she'd be happy to do it.

-- Taxpayers also are victims of newspaper contraction. Many government bodies, including your local board of education, that used to be scrutinized by the press are now being left to operate pretty much as they see fit. I wonder if the public eventually will notice.

-- Still no news of a partner for Twin City Hospital. Brown County General Hospital in southwestern Ohio also has been looking for a buyer without a lot of success. Here's a link to a newspaper story about that hospital's situation.

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1 comment:

Old TR Intern Kate said...

Check out the January 31, 2011, issue of TIME mag. It raises a lot of good points about Tiger Moms (bad, but also good): http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2043313,00.html
I think there are some things we can learn from that style of parenting (like the drilling part of the article), but the rest is questionable.