In the last couple of years there have been alot of books and articles published defining different types of parenting. Ofcourse they are generalisations but there are core differences between them. 2 years ago it was all about Chinese parenting vs. western parenting. Amy Chua published an article in the wall street journal titled “Why Chinese mothers are superior”. It was an excerpt from her book “Battle Hymn of the tiger mother”. She wrote about how she raised her 2 daughters in a very strict manner. They weren’t allowed much play time or sleep overs, could not participate in any school plays, get less than an A or even complain about not being in a school play (wow, sounds scary to me!!). They had to play an instrument and practice for an hour or two each day and more on the weekend. Even when they were on holiday they had scheduled time to do some work or practice their instrument. In the bargain she has two beautiful, gifted and intelligent girls who went on to accomplish alot. I read the book and although I didn’t agree with how she did it at all, a small part of me thought wow, she has such talented girls, wouldn’t we all want children like that?
Western parenting on the other hand comes across as very permissive. Children can do what they want, they have no structure or no boundaries. In essence, the parents lives and homes revolve around the children. Parents put alot of emphasis on the childs psyche and their self esteem (and I can also see why, I mean look at the amount of people in “therapy” in the US). According to Amy Chua, “The westerners want to respect their child’s individuality and to pursue their passion and to provide positive reinforcement. The Chinese are much more comfortable overriding their children’s preferences”. Is this because they think as parents they know better?
Anyway, chinese vs. western parenting is so 2011…and we’re now in 2013…welcome Pamela Druckerman, introducing “French Parenting”. Pamela is an American journalist and author, married to a British man, living in Paris. She had her AHA moment when she took her 18 month old on holiday and was left scrambbling at a restaurant while her daughter ran riot and refused to eat anything. French children she noticed played together in harmony, sat in their high chairs happily and ate whatever was given to them (including all their veggies!). She couldn’t figure out what it was they were doing so armed with a notebook in her diaper bag, she observed, questioned and even eavesdropped to see what it was french mothers were doing to churn out these well behaved, dignified children who were also curious, creative and full of life. And with that was born “Bringing up Bebe”, her first book on French parenting. So what did she find? French mothers love their children but their lives do not revolve around them and they don’t feel guilty about it. Children are taught to always say hello and goodbye as well as please and thank you. This is because children tend to think the world revolves around them and so by getting them to say “Bonjour”, you are making them acknowledge the people around them. Mothers teach their children not to interrupt when adults are talking but rather to wait their turn and meals are eaten all together with the children eating whatever the parents eat. According to Pamela, French parenting balances being strict with being permissive. Children take their parents seriously when they say “non” and parents are quite calm and laissez faire when it comes to other things (I’m liking French parenting :))
So what kind of parent are you? And how were you raised? Would you do things differently or like Amy Chua would you raise your kids the way you were?