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Keep on reading"battle hymn of the tiger motherP49-59  

2011-09-28 21:55:54|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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One jaring thing that many Chinese people do is openly compare their children.I never thought this was so bad when i was growing up,because I always come off well in the comparison.My Dragon Lady grandmother-the rich one,on my father's side-egregiously favored me over all my sisters."Look how flat that one's nose is",she would cackle at family gatherings,pointing at one of my siblings."not like Amy,who has a fine,high-bridged nose.Amy looks like a Chua,That one takes after her mother's side of the family and looks like a monkey."I know now that parental favoritism is bad and poisonous.But in defense of the Chinese,I have two points.First,parental favoritism can be found in all cultures.In Genesis,Isaac favors Esau,whereas Rebekah loves Jacob better.In the Grimm Brothers' fairy tales,there are always three siblings-and they are never treated equally.Conversely,not all Chinese practice favoritism.In The Five Chinese Brothers,there is no indication that the mother loves the son who swallows the sea anymore than the son with the iron neck.Second,I don't believe that all parental comparisons are invidious.Jed is constantly criticizing me for comparing Sophia and LuLu.And it's true that I've said things to Lulu like,:"When I tell Sophia to do something,she responds instantly.That's why she improves so fast."But westerners misunderstand.When I say such things i'm not favoring Sophia,just the opposite,I'm expressing confidence in Lulu.I believe that she can do anything Sophia can do and that she's strong enough to handle the truth..I also know that Lulu compares herself to Sophia anyway.That's why I'm sometimes so harsh with her.I won't let her indulge her own inner doubts.

    Mr.Shugart,about fifty with preppy good looks and thinning bond hair,was one of those people who relate better to children than to adults.With parents,he was aloof and awkward;he could barely look us in the eye.But he was a genius with children:relaxed,witty,inspirational,and fun.

    Mr.Shugart's secret was that he translated everything technical about the violin into stories or images children could understand.instead of legato,staccato,or accelerando,he spoke of caression the fir of a purring cat,armies of marching ants,and mice on uncycles rolling down a hill.intonation

    Lulu and I were simultaneously incompatible and inextricably bound.When the girls were little,I kept a computer file in which I recorded notable exchanges word-for-word.Here's a conversation I had with Lulu when she was about seven: Once nice by-product of my extreme parenting was that Sophia and Lulu were very close:comrades-in arms against their overbearing,fanatic mother."she's insane,"I'd hear them whispering to each other,giggling.But I din't care.I wan't fragile,like some Western parents.AS I often said to the girls,"My goal as a parent is to prepare you for the future--not to make you like me."

   The fast is that Chinese parents can do things that would seems unimaginable-even legally actionable-to Westerners.chinese mothers can say to their daughters,"He fatty--lose some weight."By contrast,Western parents have to tiptoe around the issue,talking in terms of"health"and never ever mentioning the f-word,and their kids still end up in therapy for eating disorders and negative self-image(I also once heard a Western father toast his adult daughter by calling her"beautiful and incredibly competent."She later told me that made her feel like garbage).chinese parents can order their kids to get straight .As Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best.Chinese parents can say,"You're lazy.All you classmates are getting ahead of you."by contrast,Western parents have to struggle with their own conflicted feelings about achievement,and try to persuade themselves that they're not disappointed about how their kids turned out.

  There are three big differences between the Chinese and Western parental mind-sets.

First,I've noticed that Western parents are extremely anxious about their children's self-esteem.They worry about how their children will feel if they ail at something,and they constantly try to reassure their children about how good they are notwithstanding a mediocre performance on a test or at a recital.In other words,western parents are concerned about their children's psyches.Chinese parents aren't.They assure strength,not fragility,and as a result they behave very differently.

Second,Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything.The reason for this is a little unclear,but it's probably a combination of confucian filial piety and the fact that the parents have sacrificed and done so much for their children.(And it's true that Chinese mothers get in the trenches,putting in long grueling hours personally tutoring,training,interrogating,and spying on their kids).Anyway,the understanding is that Chinese children must spend their lives repaying their parents by obeying them and making them proud.By contrast,I don't think most Westerners have the same view of children being permanently indebted to their parents.Jed actually has the opposite view."Children don't choose their parents"he once said to me."They don't even choose to be born.It's parents who foist life on their kids,so it's the parents' responsibility to provide for them.Kids don't owe their parents anything.Their duty will be to their own kids."This strikes me as a terrible deal for the Western parent.

Third,Chinese parents believe that they know what is best for their children and therefore override all of their children's own desires and preferences.That's why Chinese daughters can't have boyfriends in high school and why Chinese kids can't go to sleep-away camp.It's also why no Chinese kid would ever dare say to their mother,"I got a part in the school play!I'm villager Number Six.I'll have to stay after school for rehearsal everyday from 3:00 to 7:00,and I'll also need a ride on weekends."god help any Chinese kid who tried that one.

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