In a book that can be said to be the exact opposite of the Tiger Mom mentality, Madeline Levine (author of Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success and mom of three) explains the importance of a stress-free, less dominating way of parenting. In our current society, kids are pressured into attending ever more competitive universities and to join the top tier of students.
Levine exposes the horrors of kids who are overly stressed out and don’t have enough time to pursue artistic endeavors, have time for recess, or enjoy life in general. It is first the parents who are instilling these “competitive” and “stressful” values in their children, sometimes resulting in kids pursuing drugs and alcohol. A girl whom Levine visited was despondent about being rejected by a top university. “It was all for nothing. I’m a complete failure,” she said.
In today’s world, which is built around books, universities, and salaries, parents want nothing more than for their children to succeed, but what they don’t understand is if they are taking the correct approach to help their children achieve this success. Ultimately, if the child finds the situation in which they’ve been placed too stressful and they are unable to pursue their own interests, this kind of competitive lifestyle can be destructive to their child’s life and can cause serious depression.
As Levine puts it: “We have bought into this system not because we are bad people or are unconcerned about our children’s well-being, but because we have been convinced that any other point of view will put our children at even greater risk.”
“There comes a point in parenting,” she writes, “where we must decide whether to maintain the status quo or, armed with new information, choose a different course. There is little question that our children are living in a world that is not simply oblivious to their needs, but is actually damaging them.”
Before many expat kids leave secondary school and move on to the real world, the Tiger Mom syndrome may strike a chord with many parents. Many will subscribe to this type of parenting because they “think” it will help kids to succeed in a tough world, but what they are really forgetting is how to make their kids happy. Levine’s book crosses traditional parenting book borders by assessing what parents can do to change their attitudes towards parenting, rather than what parents can make their kids do.
To read the full The New York Times article on the book, click here.
Photo by ~PhotograTree~ via Flickr.