Stress and Parenting (3)

Continuing the comment from the last post about the article Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.  Another concern I have about the author’s parenting choices is the absence of any perspective on the limitations it places on her own life.  The approach to her daughters is tremendously demanding of time and emotional energy.  Of course she has every right to allocate these resources as she thinks best, but giving a little more time to her career, husband or other interests is not considered.

There is an almost infinite number of ways that children can improve.  The same is true for us parents.  Yet how long would we put up with a well-intentioned, even loving mentor who followed us around and advised us whenever they detected a shortcoming.  Even if that advice was kind and supportive, wouldn’t we drop-kick that mentor off the front porch within days?  Our children can’t do that.

I’m grateful the variety of negative experiences my patients had as children taught me to set broad limits for my kids, praise them when they did well and go easy when they messed up, letting them know I had plenty of screw-ups of my own. My children got plenty of advice from peers, teachers and coaches.  They appreciated a home where the ratio of praise to advice was much higher than in the rest of their world.  They are in their 20s now and I couldn’t be more delighted with both of them.

Note: I will present a free public lecture titled “Hidden Stresses and Your Health” at Oregon State University’s Gilfillan Auditorium (Monroe and SW 26th Ave) in Corvallis, Oregon on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 from 5:30 – 6:30 PM.

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