Why Chinese Mothers are Superior

“Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.” I’ve seen that article linked a few places lately, and it’s been pretty divisive. The Korean (as I expected) was in favour of that parenting style. Reactions on MetaFilter ranged from “this is child abuse” to outright envy. Truthfully, I think I fall more towards the envy end of the scale. This comment seemed especially relevant to me. My parents never pushed me to do anything. And while that was great – and I had a relatively happy childhood and turned out fine – I also never really learned to work hard at anything. The stuff I’m good at is the stuff that comes easily. I wonder what I could have accomplished if they’d made me stick with the stuff that was difficult. (I have a suspicion the Snook would probably say the same thing.)

Maybe that’s why I keep persevering with running, even though I suck at it. It’s the one thing I do that I’m not good at, and I need to feel like I’m working at something.


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  1. Not to argue against an Asian mom (I’ve learned that lesson from way too many parent-teacher conferences), but…I would say that for you and for me (raised in similar fashions, it sounds like), it’s not so much “The stuff I’m good at is the stuff that comes easily” as it is “The stuff I’m good at is the stuff that I genuinely like to do.” We are better runners than we give ourselves credit for, and we both do other things (crafts, cooking, music, whatevs) that we love and aren’t too damn bad at doing. Just my non-Chinese-mother-raised two cents. 🙂

  2. But I have very little discipline, Max. I think you overestimate me. In college I wrote every big paper at the last possible minute. I find it difficult to get things done at work without a hard deadline. I’ve dabbled in lots of stuff, but I don’t really consider myself an “expert” on anything (aside from maybe Roald Dahl). I just wish I had learned to knuckle down and work hard as a kid. *sigh* I dunno. I just get jealous when I see people who are really, really good at one thing like playing a sport or an instrument, or they’re a lawyer or doctor or something. I wish I had applied myself at something like that.

  3. It’s a hard one for me – trying to make the kid practice her dancing was like pulling teeth. She insisted she wanted to do it, but practice was torture, so too often I gave up. But she *did* like it a whole lot better when she was doing well at it. And if I’d pushed her harder, she’d be even better. But laziness on both our parts interrupted too often!

  4. I thought that was an interesting part of it, Donna. That kids will have fun with the difficult thing once they get good at it. It makes sense. Just have to get to that stage without killing each other. 🙂

  5. It’s true. I haaaaated piano with a burning passion for like 4 years after the initial novelty wore off. (2 years in, about.) But my mom pushed us and made us practice, and we gritted our teeth and did it. She even started to bribe us with $10 if the teacher told her that we had a good lesson and had practiced the week before (our piano teacher could tell.) Eventually I got good at it, and right around that time is when I first learned Maple Leaf Rag. That was the first time I really really loved playing piano. After that she didn’t havet to convince me anymore. I just plopped myself down at the keyboard and played whenever I had any pent up emotions to get out. (Really useful for a 13 year old.)

    Anyway, Kris, I think you’ve stumbled upon the crux of the problem. You have to push yourself really hard at the beginning, but the more you do it, the easier it gets, and the easier it gets, the less you have to push yourself and the more fun it becomes.

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