[info_box]Today’s guest post comes from Tana Agudelo. When I asked her to share a little about herself this is what she had to say: “I adore all things natural. The scent of lavender makes me swoon. I’m always on the hunt for fresh, raw, organic, fair trade, or handmade. I love babies and the Awesome God who makes them. I have a super amazing husband, seven super wonderful children, and when I’m not answering the MOMMY call, I like to paint and read and cook and lots of other stuff as well, especially if it has anything to do with art or food or music or food or books.”[/info_box]
. . . to push through when it is HARD? I recently read Amy Chua’s article in the Wall Street Journal “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior”, preceding the release of her new book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.”
My heart actually hurt. I felt fear, grief and even horror.
Chua explains how she “mothers”, and I use the term loosely, her two daughters to be the very best of the best:
Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:
- attend a sleepover
- have a playdate
- be in a school play
- complain about not being in a school play
- watch TV or play computer games
- choose their own extracurricular activities
- get any grade less than an A
- not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
- play any instrument other than the piano or violin
. . . but the part that made me feel fear, sadness, and horror, was the seriously damaging method she uses to drive her daughters to perfection. Her parenting regime includes assaulting her children with berating, humiliating and degrading attacks, both verbal and physical, to achieve her ends. And to what end is that?
It is all in the name of SUCCESS.
Does Chua mention that Asian young women have the highest rate of depression and suicide in the USA? Or that Asians in general have the lowest rate of treating mental illness, in part because they do not admit to depression or other emotional disturbances? No and no.*
Some parents out there will see this as justification for their unloving behavior. Some parents will take this as fuel to their fire to be as cruel as they want to be (and yes, our sin nature DOES want to be cruel, sometimes) excusing themselves that it is really for the child’s best, after all, and it does bring results.
How sad is it that these children are being driven to the point of shutting off all their emotions, closing their hearts to how these words and actions make them feel, and becoming robotic performers so that they can make their parents happy? All children want to feed their own innate need for love, so in their soul hunger these famished children grasp a poor substitute: conditional love, which is about as nourishing for the soul as eating fruit loops for breakfast.
I have a lot of problems with what Amy Chua promotes. But my biggest, and by far the most relevant issue, is that God does not treat us this way, nor does He tell us in His Word to treat others this way.
We are to be kind, tenderhearted, merciful, forgiving.
We are to love, to have joy, to be peaceful.
Chua’s method promises a veneer of outward success but at what cost? Loss of self. Loss of freedom, hopes, dreams, imagination and innovative thinking. Loss of children knowing they are loved because of who they are instead of the letters on their report card.
She raises questions in my mind: Is any part of it valid? Should we push our children to excellence? And if so, how can we do it without hurting them?
I desire for my children to find their purpose in life, their own special calling. I know that He made them for something. There is a reason, no, reasons, why they are here. My job is to point them to The One who can reveal these purposes to them. I can give them opportunities to develop their minds, hone skills and talents, and educate them broadly. Ultimately, though, it is between them and God as to just who they become.
We have responsibilities as parents. There is no question. Parents make choices all the time for their children. One would hope that most of these choices are in the best interests in the child. But should we require our children to only make A’s? Not allow them to watch TV and keep them away from friends so that they will not be distracted from study? How and to what do we say no?
I wouldn’t let one of my daughters, now grown, quit piano even when it was clear that she was not as capable (yet) as her older siblings, until she was at the point of being constantly frustrated, embarrassed, felt incompetent, and had stomach aches each piano lesson day. It wasn’t until her teacher actually cried with frustration during a lesson (and seeing how horrible that made my daughter feel) that I realized this was MY requirement, not God’s requirement of her. I did not want my children to be quitters.
I also really wanted them to play the piano. About that time one of my sons said to me, “Why is it so important for us to do this? Do we HAVE to be pianists?” I made the decision then that I was simply not going to force my dreams onto them anymore. If there was interest on their part, I would do whatever I could to make it happen. But I was not going to make them do it anymore. Two of the five taking lessons at that time chose to continue. Three chose to do something else: swim team, drama, and ballet.
There is nothing wrong with making a child stick with something for a while, if you are giving them the proper help, support, and love to make it through. God does not abandon us when He lets us go through challenges. It is vital that we ask ourselves what we are trying to attain in the process, however, and also seek God’s guidance as to what is most important at the moment – the lesson to be learned, the habit instilled, or possibly the act of mercy and understanding in rescuing, because God does in fact rescue us from a situation sometimes.
It is a beautiful grace that God can take anyone, no matter where they have come from and no matter what they have experienced, and redeem their past. All things work together for good, after all, we are promised in His Word. That includes all the wounding we have received at our parents hands, and the wounding our children are certainly receiving from us. This comforts me deeply in the midst of mistakes and regrets.
But if we are striving to be like our Heavenly Father Who is full of grace, mercy, and tenderness in His dealings with us, then our choices will be communicated to our children in a far different tone than the yelling and insulting method of Chua and many other mothers across the world. Even when our Father allows us to go through difficulties and will not give us relief just yet, He walks through all of it with us, even carries us through them . . . we likewise can be this for our children.
I could go and on about the merits of playtime with friends, discussions over TV versus no TV, the development of imagination and free thinking, and believing in the uniqueness of each person . . . oh, so many bunny trails! But the heart of what struck me from all of this is just that: the heart. Ultimately, all of the success and accomplishments of this world will fade into nothing. What remains is our heart – our soul, our spirit, what we gave to God and what He did through us with what we gave Him.
Here’s the bottom line: I want my children to be the best they can be. I require things of them . . . sometimes things that they don’t like . . . and I will help them as much as I am able. But I will not, I hope, ever exasperate them. Let’s speak grace to our children in all things. If our hearts are tender and merciful, even when we need to require hard things from them, they will know that they are loved and that we truly are leading them in love.*I was further saddened when I read about the personal struggles some Asian young women face in their pursuit of success at all cost. You can read about some of those things here, here, and especially here. (If you read down to the first couple of comments on this article, there is a really impressive story from the director of engineering at Facebook, who was also raised by Chinese parents. SOOO worth reading his comments.)
Photo Credit: Anissa ThompsonRead More »
It’s not ready yet, but Daddypotamus and I are whipping up something we hope you will like. I’m a little nervous but hopefully will turn out better than yesterday’s fare. Care to take a guess?Read More »
What do all these photos have in common? They are my kitchen failures, of course! If the proof is in the pudding these concoctions demonstrate one thing: looks can be deceiving. I wish they’d turned out great so I could share the recipes with you, but since I can’t why not laugh about it?
Behold, SALTY blueberry preserves.
Fig Walnut Canapes a là Locker Room Funk
Chicken Liver Paté – I practically had to dump that bottle of port in to make this one edible. Kind of defeats the purpose, huh?
An experimental chevré frosting that went baaaaad (pun intended)
All of these failures occurred within the last month. That’s why when people tell me I’m a good cook I have to disagree . . . I’m just a persistent one.
What about you? Are you Indiana Jones in the kitchen or do you stick with tried and true recipes?Read More »
Daddypotamus here. I try not to invade Heather’s blog very often, but I wanted to share an important announcement with you: Our local Starbucks is closing for good. As I write this, the party commemorating the last day of business winds to a close. The original location of my standing weekly Daddy/Daughter date is now gone. All things must come to an end, I know. But this one is significant to me.
“What’s the big deal?” my friends have said. “Just go to another Starbucks.”
I would. And I will. But it’s not so replaceable. It’s more than just another Starbucks.Read More »
Congratulations KimberlyK85 and Emily Brown!! Theoretically I knew I couldn’t win my own giveaway, but it is not without a little jealousy that I announce you as the winners. Seriously if one day a bunch of sweet old grandma’s disappear and a few days later the police bust down my front door, it’s NOT because I have kidnapped them so that they can knit for me night and day.
To claim your prize: Go to the contact form and send me your address within seven days.
If you didn’t win and you **NEED** one of these hats as badly as I do (help!), email Kathryn at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mention this giveaway for 10% off!
Back when Katie was little more than a short stack of fat rolls I developed a rather curious fantasy. In my imaginary world all kids came with three switches on their backs: Sleep. Eat. Play.
Need to catch a few more zzzz’s? Sleep.
Broccoli not disappearing quickly enough? Dial up the Eat
Want to get out of your pajamas and look like a human being? Set the timer for 15 minutes on Play
I really wanted that sleep dial.
For the first year of Katie’s life I felt like I was drowning. Trying to work part-time from home meant conference calls while breastfeeding, putting Katie down for naps while going slap happy on myself to stay awake and starting dinner when I heard Daddypotamus‘ key turn in the front door at 6pm. Not that dinner mattered to me by then, anyway. What was important was that my giant yellow life raft of a husband arrived just in time to keep me from drifting down to Davey’s locker.
Why am I rambling about switches and life rafts? Because I recently ran across this brave and vulnerable post by a new mom:
. . . I have always wanted to be a mom. I remember in 8th grade we all wrote what we wanted to be when we grew up. I still have that piece of paper. It says, “Caitlin Shaughnessy wants to be a housewife and a mom.” I never made a very good feminist.
But I somehow missed the boat on how difficult it is to have a newborn baby. Not many people talk about what can happen to your psyche when you’re extremely sleep deprived. Waking up in the middle of the night at 1:30, 3:30 and 5:30 is exhausting. My entire body ached from the birth experience and learning to breastfeed.
All the images I had of parenthood included parents feeling an overwhelming love for their children. However, when Denver was about a week old, I tearfully admitted to Austin that I thought I didn’t love Denver enough. He just demanded so much, I was so hormonal, and I didn’t have all those ooey-gooey feelings that people seem to get for their babies.
Caitlin H (emphasis mine)
Do you not just love this girl for her honesty? Her words took me right back to the beginning of it all. A time when I felt shame at my resentment over the sleeplessness and loss of freedom. The days when I thought being a good mom was about perfecting the art of balance . . . not learning to smile with eyes that burn with exhaustion, serve oatmeal for dinner and throw dirty dishes in the oven when company stops by.
If babies really came with switches I could avoid having to pick Katie up like a football and bolting out of the bed when she starts to bellow in her sleep (Micah is three feet away, sleeping). I could have actually removed the toenail polish I put on for Micah’s birth instead of slowly watching it chip away for four months (perfectly clean now, but those cuticles, yikes!).
A lot of things could have been different, but I’m glad they weren’t. Because honestly, the long stretches between shimmering moments . . . those are the fields where love is grown. Those days when everything went wrong which I would have fast forwarded through without a second thought are where I won every ounce of patience I have gained. I’m still in the pajamas I wore yesterday and haven’t taken a shower yet, but I wear the glow of someone that is learning to love. And so do you.
**Thanks to Caitlin for letting me share part of her story. For an update on how she’s feeling these days check out her letter to her son.
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My former bloggy (and now real life) friend Kathryn owns the cutest little boutique with goodies for all ages . . . sweet blankie/hat sets for little girls, “scrap hats” for the ruggedly handsome half-pint, and even a little something for you. Seriously, I think I am going to need a job so I can afford my addiction to her stuff. Katie **NEEDS** a new hat so I can take her 3 year pics, right??
I wish I had known Kathryn was so talented before I spent six hours on Etsy looking for just the right newborn hat.
Isn’t he sweet? Oh well, enough about my knit obsession. Would YOU like to own one of these adorable creations??? Two lucky winners will get to select a handmade crocheted child’s sized hat from Baby Buttons Design!
Winners will be allowed to select one item from the gallery below. Make sure to drop by her Facebook page to check out all the other cute things she has available!!! (You can actually shop there, too!)
This contest is open to anyone in the world! That means you Anna D and Destiny V . . . and probably a lot of other people whom I mistakenly think live in the United States.
1. Leave a comment below and tell me which hat you’d be likely to select if you won.
**Want more chances to win? Do any of the following and leave a SEPARATE comment for each qualified entry.**
2. Follow Baby Buttons Design on Facebook (three extra entries) or let me know if you already do
3. Become a fan of Mommypotamus on Facebook or let me know if you already are
4. Follow @mommypotamus on Twitter and RT this giveaway (one entry per day)
5. Blog about this giveaway linking to this post and Baby Buttons Facebook page. (three extra entries). Leave your url in the comment section please.
Contest ends January 13th at 10 pm. The winners will be selected via random.org
Read More »