Saturday, February 25, 2012

To Raise an Achiever (Part 1)

One of my Christmas presents last year was the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

I am still reading it. Some nights, I got through 50 pages at one sitting. Then I might not read it for two weeks because I was too tired from my hectic life. Other times, I read just 10 and put the book down because I wanted to think about what I had just read.

I always reflect during and after reading such books. On this one, I have many mixed thoughts which I don't have much time to write in this blog. 

For now, here are some quick thoughts. 

I am not apologetic, and will never be, about my wish to raise my three kids as achievers. Those who have been following this blog should have gotten this idea by now. 

And I am not going to say I know the best way to do it, because I don't. I just know that this is what I want to do and I put my mind into doing. 

As with everything, there are two extreme approaches that one can take and a range of others that fall in between. To me, it is definitely about finding the balance and it is up to me to define what 'balance' is.

When the kids are still young and inexperienced, the onus lies with us, as their parents, to guide them in finding the balance: to teach them to aim for the sky, while still learning to live a happy life.

Yes, kids and adults can be happy without achieving much, but those who achieve plenty can also be happy. Who says achievements and happiness are mutually exclusive?

I always think it is a very narrow-minded view of those who believe that high achievers must be downright miserable and stressed out all the time. Let me be honest. I do think that is the view of those who haven't achieved very much. Of course, the definitions of 'achievement' and 'success' are very subjective.

I would much rather teach my children to learn to aim for the stars (so at least they will reach the moon) and strive with their very best in everything they set their minds to do and to believe that when there is a will, there is a way... than for them to tell themselves (and everyone else) that they are happy to just 'be' and take each day as it comes, with no goals nor ambitions.

But what is equally important is teaching my kids to understand that failures and setbacks are part of life too and equipping them with life skills and positive outlook is crucial. That way, when faced with disappointments and hardship, they will be resilient enough.

I do know many parents who are from and/or living in the West, and an increasing number of those here too, who discourage competition or any form of goal-setting. Oh, quite a few also boo and label parents (like me) as 'pushy', 'kiasu', 'egoistic', 'ignorant', 'selfish' etc..... 

It is all a matter of perspectives. Yours are just different from mine. And frankly, I don't care. You raise your kids; I raise mine. Time will tell if my methods work. I am often tempted to say that 'the day my kids are achievers and yours are slackers, we shall see who has the last laugh'. But immediately after this thought, I also know that I really don't care if other people's kids turn out to be slackers, as long as mine do well enough in their lives.  

These parents may have been influenced by the media and parenting books authored by American writers who are too worried about hurting their kids' fragile self-esteem and confidence.

But not me. 

I won't want to bubble wrap my kids from the harsh realities, so as to safeguard their fragile self-esteem. Whether they are introduced to stress, competition and goal-setting and failure now or not, they will have to face these facts of life in future. 

If we handle it right, and I am still learning all the time on how to do so, my kids can be achievers, lead full and happy lives and need not have fragile self-esteem.






2 comments:

Evelyn said...

Hi! The funny thing about this book was that I didn't like her tone when I was reading it, but when I was retelling it to others I found myself being impressed by the lengths that she went to.

Domesticgoddess said...

Hi Evelyn, I thought she was funny in many parts. As a memoir, this is an easy read. I really appreciate the fact that it is so much harder to be a pushy Chinese parent than a relaxed 'Western' parent. I admire her tenacity though I may not agree with all her methods.

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