Earlier this year blogosphere was abuzz reviewing or mostly criticizing a new publication with all vigor and disdain. When almost everyone had their knives out condemning a treatise which eulogized the Chinese way of harsh parenting, it caught my curiosity and getting my hands on this book soon became my priority. Battle Hymn of Tiger Mother was unavailable in bookstores of Muscat and Bangalore; so when I was just about to give up hope I suddenly got lucky with a store in Gurgaon which had a copy left
Now some may be puzzled as to what a book on parenting has got to do with me, after all someone who is looking to find a bride for himself should not plan too ahead also. But then parenting is a sensitive and delicate topic which touches all of us in a very subtle way, only those born of a cloning experiment can be counted out. While reading Amy Chua’s book last night one line caught my fancy where in she says that no matter what you do your children will someday grow up only to resent you, maybe Ms Chua has a point there for she makes no bones on how she adopted an extreme and maybe cruel parenting form to groom her two daughters. Her daughters were tortured to concentrate excessively on academics, never allowed sleepovers, grilled with music lessons even on holidays, called garbage in public, made to study to be two classes ahead in math…in short get perfection no matter what it takes. Amy Chua however defends her actions on her website “My book has been controversial. Many people have misunderstood it. If I could push a magic button and choose either happiness or success for my children, I’d choose happiness in a second. But I don’t think it’s as simple as that; it can be a tough world out there, and true self-esteem has to be earned”
When this book initially came out it raised controversy, not only in US but also in India with many mothers getting insecure on whether they are doing their best for their young ones or did they do enough for the grown-up ones. Surprisingly I did not feel much emotion while reading the book, maybe I am not a parent so will never feel those pangs and also because I grew up in a very lonely way. In a way I found myself supporting the Chinese parenting way, believe me this is much better than a world where no one trusts or speaks with each other. However this does not imply a license to suffocate your children or deny them freedom so as to maintain a complete control on their lives all the time. I have been denied many freedoms while growing up, scars of which still haunt me no end and I would certainly not like any one else to go through what I did or maybe many others are still undergoing in many Indian households.
Perhaps what Amy Chua forgets in her lucidly written book is that strict parenting at times breeds hatred and resentment. In her book her younger daughter rebels and shows the light of the day to her strict mother, but what if she had bottled up those feelings and later in life simply drifted away? A prime reason for me moving out of India was to be away from the restricted environs that I had been subjected to all my life; I knew that moving anywhere within India also may not solve my issue for I seriously need to break away and even after coming to this sweltering country at times the past continues to haunt me. Self esteem and respect are basic human rights and when a child is denied them by his own kin, self-confidence can get irreparably punctured thereby denting own self worth for many years to come
Being a parent is not easy and I recognize that; no matter what you do someone will say you could have done better or worse someone may lament or even curse your well-intentioned actions. But then to be a good parent it is important to be a good human being first, its only in fables that I find sages being born to dacoits.