Which nation has better parents? Americans? Chinese? How about Italian?
Last year the parenting wars began when a Chinese mother came out with a book called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. The author, Amy Chua, reports about her strict Chinese parenting style that pushes the boundaries of tough love. The theory is interesting. Are the Chinese better parents?
Chinese children in general (let’s be honest, this whole parenting debate is all about stereotypes. There will be exceptions to the rule.) seem smarter and more dedicated. With high standardized test scores and nabbing top college spots in the United States, are Chinese parents on to something?
Chua’s methods have been widely panned by Western parents. She forces her children to practice their respective musical instruments for 3 hours a day, even while on vacation. She has no qualms against calling her child fat in order to inspire her to lose weight or that she is stupid. The children have never had a play date with friends, never watch TV or play video games. The main theory behind her parenting technique is hard work will equal excellence. Happiness is not considered part of the equation.
Seems harsh, right? But Chua’s daughter is an extremely talented musician who played at Carnegie Hall at age 14. And with Chinese students outsmarting many US students on standardized tests, it makes you wonder if that harsh parenting style is paying off.
Chua’s book launched a whole new argument on who was a better parent. An American expat living in France wrote a book called Bringing up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. The author, Pamela Druckerman, observes that French children are more independent, respectful and well-mannered. She discovered this after she watched many French children behave in one of the worst circumstances for child behavior: a restaurant. When her own child was throwing a fit- and his food- she could not help but investigate.
Her theory is that French parents do not hover over their children like American parents do. Instead of being a helicopter parent (one who constantly hovers over their child), French parents give their children some space. Instead of immediately pacifying a child, they allow the child a chance to calm down on his or her own.
But the biggest difference is that French parents do not let their children think they are the center of the universe, with everyone around them to serve them immediately. Children then must learn to respect their parents and learn more independence.
Now an Italian woman has come out saying Italian children are better because their parents feed them better food at a younger age.
All I have to say is ENOUGH! The cross-culture parenting wars are exhausting. Let’s be honest- does any one country have better children? In some aspects, I am sure that may be true. But each child responds to and needs a different parenting style. There is no recipe for the perfect parent OR the perfect child. Don’t compare yourself and do the best you can.