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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Who Are the Superior Moms?

Over the past few days, an article from the Wall Street Journal has been floating around some of my friends' Facebook pages with the title "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior". Automatically, my defenses get up because I consider myself to be a pretty decent mom about 98% of the time. I mean, I have a three year old who reads, draws elaborate pictures, speaks a little Spanish and Yoruba and can count to 100. Sure, she's scared of dogs and the wonky toilet in our bedroom... we're good right?

Then when you read the article more closely, you realize that the author is really comparing what I consider to be (for lack of a better term) "the first-generation immigrant" view point with that of a traditional Western attitude of child-rearing.

I can speak from personal experience being the child of such  parents, who demanded nothing less than absolute excellence academically. It is not just Chinese mothers who expect this, but Nigerian and Indian and Korean mothers as well. There were very few sleepovers, no weekday TV and no video games for most of my childhood.

My parents never claimed to be my friends, they were my parents and I never doubted for a second that they would set me straight if I tried to pull something over on them. Even now, I try to keep the Kid on her toes by never letting her know when I am bluffing. In my universe, children should always think that their parents are just *a little bit* unhinged. Keep 'em guessing.

Anyway, I picked my colleges that I applied to by listing half of the top 25 from the U.S. News and World Report that year. I was "encouraged" to do science club and only allowed to do dance and participate in musicals when my parents realized that me having a busy schedule actually improved my straight A's. My friends with similar backgrounds played sports like tennis, never a contact sport like lacrosse or football. They were always in orchestra (dork-estra) but never allowed up on stage to be an actor.

When I got to college and toyed with doing an anthropology major, I was persuaded that I could get the same content from a biology degree (still a completely useless degree, IMO) with an art history minor (far more practical :-P).  You simply don't hear of kids of first-generation Nigerians getting a degree in music or art. My parents would have discussed it with me until they were blue in the face and I was confused and broke down and declared myself a nice safe major like pre-medicine or pre-law or engineering.

That is probably why I'm a doctor, my sister is a lawyer and my brother is an engineer.

Wait a second...

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