Tiger Mom vs. Mama Grizzly

There’s been a lot of controversy over a new book about parenting written by some ivy-league law professor.  Apparently this mother runs her home like a sadistic Scrooge would run a law office (big surprise) and calls it good parenting.  Too much work if you can get it.

On the other hand, there is Sarah Palin and her “Mama Grizzlies,” who seem to hold the rest of the world accountable for the way it raises their children, while they themselves are eternally busy spinning their offsprings’ misadventures into somebody else’s fault.  Nice work-shirk if you can get it.  You don’t even have to make sense.

I see no value in either scheme.  I have observed too many Mama Grizzlies with cubs to be comfortable with the thought that these kids are going to grow up into anything useful. These mothers are doing nothing more than raising wild animals; the only thing they are expert at, as I said, is blaming someone else when their kids get in trouble — which the kids always do.  And sometimes it’s severe.

And as for the Tiger Mothers…great, they’re another generation of anal-retentives who worship winning prizes for playing the piano, and long lists of meaningless A+ grades in school over actual human interaction.  In fact, the value placed on the piano and violin seems strange to me.  I see no difference between being a violin/piano mom and being an upper-crust soccer mom, or a skating mom.  Back in my skating days I saw plenty of skating moms whose kids were excellent skaters who somehow skated several hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week, excelled academically to the point that nearly all of them were aiming to become physicians, and even played musical instruments (violin or piano, almost always) at concert-quality levels.  All these kids went on to be neurotic failures.  All of them.  Why?  Because they were nervous wrecks who were unable to function without Mom cracking the whip.

The common problem with both styles is that they leave children unable to deal with other people, and ultimately they create unhappy adults.

Most of the parents I see are somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, and that’s just fine.  It means that most kids will grow up okay.  But at the extremes we have these terrible parents making money by giving terrible parenting advice, and that, my friends, has got to stop.

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