East Asian child rearing is notorious for the heavy pressure put on children, but also famous for the great feats of technical brilliance and hard work many people who grow up under these conditions perform. Kids are sent to evening classes, weekend lessons, hardly have any free time. And then many graduate at the top of their years.

Professor Amy Chua of Yale Law School has recently published a book promoting this kind of strict and achievement-orientated parenting. I read an extract on the Wall Street Journal’s web site, and I find Chua’s child-rearing practices counterproductive and draconian. This is largely because I don’t share her highly conservative ideas of what constitutes success in this world.

To begin with, Chua forced her children to play the piano and violin for hours upon end. The value of this is apparently beyond questioning. I’m baffled by this. Few people can name any classical musicians, and extremely few can support themselves playing classical music. Why should I make my kids do that? Both took violin lessons until they tired of the instrument, and then they moved on to sax and piano, which they enjoy playing but don’t work particularly hard at. It’s just for fun. I certainly wouldn’t want either of them to try a professional career in music unless they were really motivated in themselves.

Furthermore, Chua demanded that her kids be No 1 academically in their years, and she forbade them to attend sleepovers, have playdates, watch TV and play computer games. This is just crazy from my point of view. Since childhood, I have always felt that having a lot of unplanned free time to play and laze about with a book or a computer is an important part of basic quality-of-life. Taking free time and play away from kids and teaching them to avoid those things as adults constitutes tragic misuse of a person’s life, from my point of view.

The qualities I try to cultivate in my kids are

  • Independent critical thinking

  • A sense of humour
  • Verbal skills (speaking and writing)
  • Solid general knowledge and insight into how everything connects up in the world
  • Curiosity
  • Social fearlessness
  • Creativity

As those who have met them can confirm, my kids have all of this in rich measure. I don’t think Amy Chua’s methods would have helped much here, on the contrary. And still, academically speaking, my kids are near the top of their years too.

At the root of my disagreement with Amy Chua lies my cynicism about the value of conventional achievement. I would never go to such lengths to get where Chua is in life, or to get my kids to where her daughters are going, because I don’t find that place attractive. I prefer to work 30-35 hours a week for a modest income and spend a lot of my time achieving nothing, just having fun with friends and family. And that’s what I teach my kids to value too. My goal as a parent isn’t to teach them to excel. It’s to teach them to be happy and have fun.

Update 11 January: Thinking about this, I realised that when I force my children to do things, it’s the opposite of what Chua did (apart from household chores). Ever since my kids learned to use a phone, I’ve made them call a playmate at 10 am on Saturdays and Sundays, to keep them from hanging around alone at home and being bored or watching daytime TV. This has ensured that they are experienced phone conversationalists and that they have always been invited to a lot of parties. Amy Chua prohibited play dates.

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Comments

  1. #1 Richard D
    January 10, 2011

    Hmm yes, having seen some of what East Asian kids go through, it doesn’t sound like in the end, they are aiming to turn out to be ’rounded people’ in the same way we would think of the term.

    The good thing is, being Scandinavian, you have the other model of child rearing that us Anglo Saxons are jealous of.

    I often wish I had been born up there :(

  2. #2 James F
    January 10, 2011

    A physician/scientist colleague of mine, describing his conversations with patients near death, once told me that none of them told him they wished they had worked harder.

  3. #3 Nick Williams
    January 10, 2011

    Not being parent, I can’t really comment, although from a young age I liked Bruce Lee and martial arts. Something about the discipline appealed to me. Shame I never stuck at it.

  4. #4 Rikard
    January 10, 2011

    Reading that excerpt I was wondering if it’s a hoax, but I guess not. That doesn’t seem like a way to produce creative people, but instead people who are good at solving set problems with fixed solutions. Like a math problem from a book or playing a given piece of music “perfectly” (whatever that means). But what about open problems, or writing new music?

  5. #5 Martin R
    January 10, 2011

    Asian martial arts only really work against an opponent trained in the same style as yourself. (-;

  6. #6 Martin R
    January 10, 2011

    Rikard, indeed; evening lessons won’t make you innovative.

  7. #7 Jon Kåre Hellan
    January 10, 2011

    Achieving nothing? Who are you kidding?
    Or may be you were just fishing :-)

  8. #8 Eric Lund
    January 10, 2011

    Chua definitely takes things to an unhealthy extreme. If you want to raise a nerd, then Chua’s methods will get you the desired result (I have seen many examples of this). But if you want an even halfway normal kid, those methods are likely to have disastrous results.

    For instance, it is statistically unlikely that her kids are tops at such a wide variety of subjects. What will happen when they go to a selective college (which is certainly part of Chua’s plans, and not by itself a bad goal) and discover that somebody there is better at something than they are? Kids who are only near the top, as yours are, will be able to deal with that scenario because they already have. Kids like Chua’s who have always been at the top frequently don’t handle that scenario well.

    Likewise on musical instruments. Chua insists that piano and violin are mandatory and all other instruments forbidden. But there is more to an orchestra than piano and violin, and perhaps her kids would fare better with cello, double bass, a wind instrument, or (heaven forbid!) percussion. We’ll never know, because her kids never had a chance to find out. Personally, I would start with piano (rather than violin as you did) and then go to other instruments, but that’s a minor quibble.

    Finally, social skills turn out to be more important than Chua gives credit for. You need to be able to meet people and assess them. That skill is especially important when you are aiming at the sort of career path Chua has envisioned for her children; even at scientific conferences, the most important part of the meeting is what goes on after hours.

  9. #9 hkdharmon
    January 10, 2011

    From reading the article, it seems like she is looking for a return on investment. She mentions the kids have an obligation to her as parent. She wants kids who will make a lot of money as a doctor or engineer so they can support her and/or she can show off how successful they are. Being happy means little.

  10. #10 Belinda Gomez
    January 10, 2011

    I think the excerpt is for exaggeration. Read the SF story:

    “This is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs,” the book’s cover declares. “This was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones. But instead, it’s about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how I was humbled by a thirteen-year-old.”

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/08/RVAE1H3BSG.DTL#ixzz1AflJ5ut9

  11. #11 Jason
    January 10, 2011

    I think I’m in an unusual position to comment as a 17 year old raised by two Asian parents. My parents’ methods aren’t as “draconian” as Chua’s, but compared to the average American they might still seem unjustifiably strict. I don’t think I could have gotten to where I am today without their pushing and shoving and disciplining. I disagree that this method of parenting doesn’t lead to innovation; quite the contrary, actually. A lot of my peers in my AP classes are extremely creative and flexible thinkers and excellent writers. The stereotype that Asians are all math-science-computer geeks is wrong too: two of my friends who are ranked second in our 630-strong senior class want to major in English and economics. Not to mention the current glut in Asian-American applications for undergraduate admission to the Ivy Leagues. While I think there should be a middle ground between the overly strict and overly neglectful, I’m pretty sure letting a kid “laze around on a book or a computer” is not where that lies, because eventually that kid will be lazing around with a bottle of booze instead. I feel that the reason I am where I am today is because my parents made sure to encourage my intrinsic love of knowledge (read: nerdiness) as well as make me work hard, which is different from hammering it all into a child’s head.

  12. #12 Nick Williams
    January 10, 2011

    I’m not sure that pressurising your kids is just an Asian phenomenon. Where I work all the students seem to be under a hell of a lot of pressure, and for those who aren’t really that bright but who are expected to excel anyway, it must lead to a lot of frustration. Before Christmas I witnessed a British student, who was shouting into her phone “No I can’t come home and look after the dog. I’ve got a fucking PhD to write”.

    That’s no way to talk to your parents.

  13. #13 Martin R
    January 10, 2011

    HKDH, that’s sooo Confucius. Has Chua really never stopped to analyse her motives?

    Belinda, indeed, sounds like a very tendentious selection on the WSJ’s part if the book’s actually about how East Asian parenting failed.

    I don’t think I could have gotten to where I am today without their pushing and shoving and disciplining. … I feel that the reason I am where I am today is because my parents made sure to encourage my intrinsic love of knowledge

    Well, Jason, are you anywhere nice? Are you at a place in life other people would like? Are you having fun? Or are you just at a place that is conventionally seen as respectable?

    I’m pretty sure letting a kid “laze around on a book or a computer” is not where that lies, because eventually that kid will be lazing around with a bottle of booze instead.

    Haha! Priceless! You must be joking, right?

  14. #14 Rogue Epidemiologist
    January 10, 2011

    I was raised by strict, very old-fashioned Asian parents, very similar to what Mrs. Chua describes. No sleepovers, piano lessons, straight-A’s, etc. Like anyone else, I have my share of problems, but I have turned out pretty well.

    I have degrees from prestigious universities. I have a cushy job in epidemiology. Great. But I have some unresolved issues that I’m hashing out with a therapist because I didn’t make it to med school. Not great, but I’m getting over it. Happily married with a house in a trendy neighborhood. Great. Eloped because I still fear my parents’ disapproval. Not great, but they’re getting over it.

    YMMV.

    Will I raise my kids the way I was raised? Probably. Why? Because considering all the ways I could be fucked up, I could be doing a helluva lot worse.

  15. #15 hkdharmon
    January 10, 2011

    @Martin
    HKDH, that’s sooo Confucius. Has Chua really never stopped to analyse her motives?

    Actually, she explicitly states her motivations are, at least partly, based in Confucianism.
    I think it is fine if she pushes her kids, as long as she puts int the time to help them, although the music lessons seem excessive and limited. I suppose only the violin and piano are prestigious enough to show off. My kids played at Carnegie Hall, what did YOURS do?
    My parents yelled at me for not achieving (along with beatings) and then refused to help when I asked for it. Definitely a less successful strategy.

  16. #16 Mieko Aida
    January 10, 2011

    I brought up my daughter in East Asian way plus Steiner Education in the UK. She learnt piano and violin and she played with friends. We just didnt have TV .

  17. #17 Cal Cohen
    January 10, 2011

    Chua is a horrible monster. Almost every professional school rations grades. I guess that means that in a law school class of 100 Asian students you’d have 20 successes and 80 suicides.

  18. #18 Raptor
    January 10, 2011

    Rogue, the best advice I ever got from my parents for child raising was, Don’t repeat their mistakes. Don’t do the things that you disagreed with, with your kids, or they will result in the same problems you have. You fear your parents’ disapproval and don’t like that? Then don’t set that situation up for your children. Have to go to therapy because you didn’t get into med school? Again, don’t set your children up for that. You don’t have to copy what your parents did just because you were raised like that. Reflect on why you don’t like certain aspects of how you where raised and change them. Find the good things, and keep them. And then, perhaps, your children will be a little better off than you were for it.

  19. #19 L. G. Mei-Aschen
    January 10, 2011

    The reasoning in this blog seems to be just one of the reasons East Asians try very hard to surpass you. A very loud background sound disturbs me: Why can’t you stay where you are.
    I am living in Japan with a 4 yrs old daughter who speaks three languages does very good in Karate and music and enjoys life as much as any child in the world.
    Linguistic ability? Give me a break! At least in this country I all the time meet foreigners who just blurr out what comes to their mind without thinking. “I have a philosophy, you know, that…” and then comes crap.
    Creativity? Just watch and compare kids from here and foreigners in a “Childrens Palace”.
    There would be no social pressure on a child who’d say to a teacher or whereever “There are no gods.” But I experienced this attitude in a small community in Sweden.
    Just a small comment from somebody who resents comments on things you do not know well enough to be able to comment on.

  20. #20 Tenebras
    January 11, 2011

    @Eric Lund: Nerds are the ones who actually -enjoyed- the classical music, and the math, and the science, and the getting good grades, and were ostracized by their peers for it. Not the ones who were forced to do it whether they liked it or not.

  21. #21 Birger Johansson
    January 11, 2011

    OT: “A new way to date old ceramics” http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-01-date-ceramics.html

  22. #22 Martin R
    January 11, 2011

    HKDH, I’d have to explain to that parent that Carnegie Hall and the like means nothing to me. What did my kids do? They had a lot of fun!

    Raptor, I agree with you. I consider my child-rearing methods to be an improved version of what my own parents did with me. I’m certainly not a perfect dad, but my kids are happy and tend to impress people.

    LGMA, you’re misreading the situation. My wife came here from Hangzhou with her folks and sibs when she was seven.

    Tenebras, well said.

  23. #23 Sharon Astyk
    January 11, 2011

    My own observation is that almost all styles of parenting work really well for some kids and really badly for others. My sister and I recently had a conversation about the things from our childhood we would never inflict on our own kids – what’s funny is that we disagreed so dramatically on what were the traumas and where we the things we would do.

    I’ve also observed that often the places where parents make mistakes is that they over-compensate for the flawed parenting they got, for kids who have never actually endured the flawed parenting of their grandkids. Grandparents too strict? Parents too relaxed, always trying to be the kids’ friend. I’m not sure we get any immunity from parenting mistakes that way.

    Don’t get me wrong, I tend strongly towards your own strategies, and I certainly don’t see formal achievement as a major goal. I also have a seriously disabled kid who is never going to achieve the kind of things that Chua seems to think every kid could – there’s nothing like being thrilled that your 8 year old uses the potty or speaks a whole sentence to put your priorities in order. I may not have Chua’s disciplinary gifts, but what’s great about this model is that I haven’t needed them that much – I don’t have to force my kids to learn, they are having a blast and excited to learn new stuff.

    Still, I fully expect my kids to explain what I got wrong as a parent to me later – I’m just not sure that any “best way to do it” strategies actually work.

    Sharon

  24. #24 Sarah
    January 11, 2011

    What kind of mom withholds food & water and bathroom breaks long into the night to teach piano to a 7-yr-old?

    If what she says is true, Amy Chua is your average American child abuser. She should be removed from her post at Yale and the police and authorities should be called-in to determine her fitness as a parent.

    Please feel free to contact Yale to let them know their star employee withholds water, food and bathroom breaks to “teach” her children:

    Yale Public Affairs/Media Contacts
    203-432-8464
    publicaffairs.law@yale.edu

    Dean’s Office
    203-432-1660

  25. #25 Martin R
    January 11, 2011

    Chua was born in 1962, so her kids are most likely in their late teens or older by now.

  26. #26 Steven Blowney
    January 11, 2011

    I talked to a 14 year old kid this weekend–at a social event, no less–who had an earnest interest in philosophy, history, and religion. Rare? Perhaps, but I see this kid as proof that someone out there realizes there is more to learning than just the utiliarianism of the current economy. I must send him some books.

  27. #27 Carl h
    January 11, 2011

    My hypothesis is that people often will be discouraged from something that they were forced upon as kids. Being drilled for example in classical music will probably amount to not liking it in latter years.

    I recently had a discussion with a girl that was trained as a classical pianist and violinist from very early age. She really didn’t enjoy playing in the same way that I do (who started to play piano myself in my late teens), she couldn’t aspire to any real feeling while playing, as she was mostly trained to repeat the works of classical composers which she could play perfectly.Playing music she didn’t really had a passion for, as she said “I apruciate it when I play it”. Composing new music, like I do – was out of the question.

    I believe that you can only start up your kids activities. If you send them to soccer practice it might not make them a pro soccer player, but if the kid has a peer group who like soccer and feel encouraged and think it’s fun they will naturally develop an interest, and maybe they’ll be even more motivated in the future to consider a career in it. It’s the same with music, if there is enjoyment in it, they probably will be motivated to continue with it.

    As kids hit puberty many question their former hobbies and want to make a new identity, so any childhood drilling in hobies will probably not matter (academic subjects is another matter). With newfound independence it’s probably certain that they will discontinue whatever’s been forced upon them if they don’t have a real interest in this themselves.

  28. #28 Rogue Epidemiologist
    January 11, 2011

    @Raptor
    Why perpetuate the cycle? Because the ultimate outcome is still pretty f’ing good. Ohh boo hooz, I haz a sad because I disappointed my folks. That’s stressful, but it’s not hard to overcome. Like I said, we’re both getting over it.

    Contrast that people who aren’t pushed as hard, never learn the meaning of ambition, and are content to spend six years at community college, earn $30k a year and watch Jersey Shore. They may not have had the conflicts along the way, but in the end, at least I know my folks gave a big, fat damn how I turned out.

    For what it’s worth, I actually get along very well with my folks. We just have very different ideas of how to live our lives.

    As for #24 Sarah, I think you’re blowing this way out of proportion and ought to mind your own business.

  29. #29 peternorth
    January 11, 2011

    @Martin R

    It’s Chua, not Chuan.

  30. #30 Martin R
    January 12, 2011

    Rogue, are you saying that two important reasons to bring kids up the East Asian way are that they will make more money and dislike popular TV shows?

    Money’s always useful, but it’s a means, not an end, and to enjoy it you need free time.

    Peter, thanks, my bad.

  31. #31 Johan
    January 12, 2011

    I think the loss of free time on account of a heavier work load with a greater chance of success in life can balance out with a shift in lifestyle preference. Instead of working to support an enjoyable lifestyle outside of work, work itself becomes the enjoyable lifestyle for these people.

  32. #32 Martin R
    January 12, 2011

    My point was that “success in life” is not a fixed universal standard.

  33. #33 Johan
    January 12, 2011

    And my point being that preferences can adapt to whatever level of success you accomplish, if it’s all the same anyway – why don’t choose a worklife of greater conventional successfulness?

  34. #34 Martin R
    January 12, 2011

    Because life starts at birth and happiness should not be postponed until you’re an adult. Furthermore, while a strict East Asian upbringing may increase your chances of conventional success, it does not offer certainty in that regard, it is not the only way to such success, and it charges a very high and possibly unnecessary price of your children.

  35. #35 Mof
    January 12, 2011

    What we read about here are mainly individual examples. Kids are very clever and they can thrive in all sorts of environments, but it is not certain that a given environment suits the child in question.

    These questions have been studied by pedagogues, and for example, a previous minister of China says that the end results will be the same – confucian if nothing else :) – but on an individual level children will prefer one or the other.

    So I think, that if we want to search for an answer, then that answer is not attached to a culture, but to what is best for the individual.

    I could give some examples, but we all have such examples, and we could all say things about our own childhood, and about that of our friends and children in the schools we went to.

  36. #36 Jonathan Jarrett
    January 12, 2011

    And then many graduate at the top of their years

    Pretty much by definition, this can’t be the result for every East Asian family’s child. If every family is pushing for this kind of super-achievement in your scenario, many must fail. What’s the situation with this second-class, which must surely outnumber the high flyers considerably?

  37. #37 Martin R
    January 12, 2011

    Well, commenter Rogue is in therapy because s/he didn’t make it into med school. (#14)

  38. #38 Sorcha
    January 12, 2011

    Some random thoughts on reading the article;
    – Being in a school play (possibly a musical) is useless, but playing the violin is not? Why?
    – Her daughters are “not allowed” to be less than #1. What would happen if she had twins who were in the same class?
    – Her daughters are still only in their teens, so she has no idea if her methods will prove “successful” even by her own standards.

  39. #39 Steve Blowney
    January 12, 2011

    @ Martin:

    1. “Conventional Sucess?” What is that? I just published a small bibliography–this is a success, how? The work towards that publication made me a better librarian, but personally enriching.

    2. Forgive me for being presumptive, but I’m in therapy because being a nuerotic: I would dare same the same for Rogue.

    3. By Chua’s logic/system, would there be a discipline called archaeology? I don’t think so.

  40. #40 Martin R
    January 12, 2011

    I’m afraid librarians and archaeologists are unsuccessfull by definition in Chua’s view.

  41. #41 Ulf Lorenz
    January 12, 2011

    Just some random thoughts:

    1. As remarked by #35, there is probably a wide span of how you can raise your children that produces roughly similar results in terms of success. No reason to tout your own as The Next Big Thing.

    2. The reason I would not (in case I had any, admittedly) treat my children as Chua is doing is because I would not treat _anyone_ like this. Human dignity, valuing other people, not imposing my egoistic ideas on dependents and all this. Her description actually makes me wonder how she treats people below her (students, cleaning staff etc.).

    3. My general impression is that her behavior is simply despicable, independent of how her children turn out. Although this comparison is poor: We do not accept torture either, no matter what the intent or the outcome is.

  42. #42 zyu
    January 12, 2011

    Chinese mothers are NOT superior,
    Being a mother is a learning process. I see lots of good mothers across cultures, I believe motherhood is the most common ground for all the cultures.
    As a Chinese mother in North America, I find I have a hard time to make sure my 4th grader does his homeworker properly and to get him off electronic games as well as to get him off the phone with his friend. My son wanted to play piano when he was about 4 years old, he got his chance when he was six. After six months or so, he had a chance to touch a guitar and that’s when he quit piano lessons. He only got his chance to take guitar lessons last year (when he was 9) and he really enjoys it.
    I have a friend (a Chinese mother) who has two daughters. The older daughter is really good at piano and school (without mommy’s pushing). The older daughter cried when she didn’t end at the top at the national piano competition (she took 2nd place). My friend told me that she hoped her second daughter will not be interested in piano lessons.
    I have another friend from China who is a child care worker and who tries so hard to make sure that her kid won’t grow up to be a nerd. She encourages more play with friends than study.
    My point is that not all Chinese mothers are like Chua.
    A good mother loves, cares, guides, and helps her kids and makes sure they grow up as decent people.

  43. #43 Martin R
    January 12, 2011

    Well said, Zyu!

  44. #44 Catherine Raymond
    January 12, 2011

    Martin, you’ve said quite a bit about having different parenting objectives than Ms. Chua, and have made some good points.

    But it’s also possible to have similar parenting objectives to Ms. Chua and object to her tactics. This woman blogs about preferring to guide her child into deciding that *she* prefers to put in the necessary work to achieve, instead of nagging her to perform. I think her account provides much food for thought.

  45. #45 Domestigoth
    January 13, 2011

    The trouble with a very strict upbringing is that the definition of “success” that you are given is a very, very limited one.

    My parents started out with that sort of a definition in mind. They wanted a daughter who was good at math and science, popular, athletic, and who would eventually get married, produce children, and live not too far away from home.

    Instead they got me. I’ve got an aptitude for science, yes, but was never passionate about it the way I am about art and theatre. Math was never really my thing — I can do it, but I don’t enjoy it on any level. I was never popular and never had very many friends, and most of my teachers expressed concern about my poor social skills. I’m athletic, but never did well at team sports, only at solo activities like martial arts. And as for getting married, settling down, and having kids? HAH! I’m non-heterosexual, don’t like children, and I’m just about as likely to “settle down” as I am to have my tattoos removed (not very).

    But despite our fights during my teen years, my parents eventually managed to bend their views of success. They can see now that I’m successful in my field. They’re happy that I can support myself. They don’t mind that I won’t be producing any grandchildren for them, and no longer see that as a personal failure on my part. My dad even complimented my bright pink hair when I visited over the holidays, and said it “looked nice on me”.

    I sincerely hope that Ms. Chua learns these lessons, too, but it seems unlikely that she’ll be able to. What will she do if her precious daughters decide that they’d rather take boring, 9-to-5 office jobs, and spend their weekends parasailing, and never pick up an instrument again? What if they don’t live up to her dreams? Will they forever be “failures” in her eyes, even if they live happy lives that the rest of us would look at and think “yeah, that’s successful”? And what about the emotional damage that such a result would inflict upon her kids? I have enough emotional baggage left over from my struggle to convince my parents that it was okay for me to go to school for theatre instead of biology — and they eventually came around to it and gave me their blessing! I can’t imagine just how much harder it would be to choose a life you love when your parent is there saying “you’re a failure” all the time.

    In some cases, pressure is good. But you have to know when to say when. If a kid chooses a particular thing on their own, encourage them. Press them a little, even. But don’t make them feel like they’ll be a disappointment if they don’t go all the way. The potential loss is so much greater than the potential gain, and just isn’t worth the risk.

  46. #46 Martin R
    January 14, 2011

    Wise words! I just don’t get this ancient clannish thinking where people bring their kids up to be loyal to The Family. I’m an individualist, I live in a country with an ample public sector, I don’t tell my kids they owe me anything. It’s 2011, fer Dawkins’ sake.

  47. #47 24fps
    January 16, 2011

    I’ve been following the Chua debate this past week. It seems that the worst of the worst was excerpted for the initial publicity push, and that the book itself provides a better context and chronicles how it doesn’t always work for the best.

    I don’t think what Chua is talking about is specifically Chinese, either. I think it’s more an immigrant thing – certianly I experienced a version of that focus and pressure (although in a much gentler way) from my English immigrant grandfather. I’m Canadian, and we have a lot of immigration and I’ve seen variations on it quite commonly with first and second generation families.

    My feelings are mixed. I want my children to think independently and choose who and what to be themselves, but I also know that I would not have done as well without the expectations my grandfather and father had for me. I try to strike the balance – we’ve guided (they had final say on whether or not they would) our daughters to activities they will, we think, benefit from (music and martial arts) while allowing them enough down time and time with friends for them to develop a social life and the skills that go along with that. But I’m not above brainwashing them into believing that going to university is not even remotely optional. ;-)

  48. #48 Martin R
    January 16, 2011

    I would not have done as well without the expectations my grandfather and father had for me

    Are you a) successfully professionally, b) leading a happy life of contentment, or c) both (as I hope you are)?

  49. #49 24fps
    January 16, 2011

    All of the above! :-D

    I’m the first generation of my family to attend university, which opened up a whole other world for me. I’m not sure I would have been as committed to higher education if it weren’t for the expectation that I must. Coupled, of course, with a lot of unconditional love and encouragement. I work in a creative field doing something I love, but also something I would not have found without their guidance.

  50. #50 Martin R
    January 17, 2011

    Glad to hear it! I was encouraged to study, but warned about the poor expectations in archaeology. I’m the first PhD in my lineage, and I’m happy with my life, but I have long conceded that my folks gave me sound career advice.

  51. #51 Destiny
    October 7, 2011

    I was raised by my family knowing that i had to be independent mostly when i turn 18. I will have to pay for college myself. Right now I’m 15 years old but I realize that it helped me when my parents told me about college and being independent. I was in my last year of middle school and i had no idea of what i wanted to do. My parents started making me think about my own future instead of thinking of relying on my family. Right now I’m in my second year of high school and I still don’t know what I want to do or what college I want to go to and if my parents never said anything about college, I’ll still be thinking about having fun only. My parents encourages my siblings and I to be independent and to be social. Does that help? No. I am not social and I find myself depending on my sister. When my parents try to force me to do something I don’t want to do, I refuse. Look at what Amy Chua is doing, forcing her children to bend to her view and wishes when what they should be saying is “NO”. Children should grow up surrounded by their parents unconditional love (i think that was the word :P) and support in order to be able to decide what they want for themselves. Doing what their parents want is just… like living as a doll. There is no point in life like that. Parents should be helping us instead of forcing us. I can’t imagine a life without my parents’ love and support. We all want what is best for our loved ones.

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