Back to Amy, good ol' Amy. Her parenting philosophy is, according to her, Chinese mothering. This basically means that your child has to be the best at everything. They must be 2 years ahead in math. They must play an instrument, but only the piano or violin. They must practice at least 3 hours a day. It means there is no room for failure, and there certainly is no allowance for showing pride in your child's accomplishments. No sleepovers, no TV, no choice in extracurriculars. And no complaining. And yet, according to her (and said children), her children are happy, well-adjusted, and grew up feeling loved.
Enter Sloth Mama...
Which then brings us to "sloth moms," which I suppose are meant to be the antithesis of a "tiger mom." A mom who "where kids learn to fend for themselves at an early age by scavenging for Pop Tarts and get lavished with praise for simple (yet completely practical) things like putting their shoes on the right feet and flushing the toilet."
Who has it right? Do we book our children's lives with activities that we deem "worthy" and only accept winning?
Or do we reward behaviors for things that should be done for the sake of being done?
I'm not going to slam either mother for her beliefs, yet I can't agree with either.
I want my daughter to be involved in activities, but I want them to interest her. I'm a big fan of making kids "stick it out" when something doesn't turn out the way they hoped. For instance, if Ayla ever wanted to join a soccer team, that would be a-okay. If she wanted to quit mid-season, that wouldn't be (unless it was an extreme circumstance).
I want my daughter to be successful and take ownership of her learning. But I also want her to know that if she put 100% effort into something and came out of it with a "C" or an "honorable mention" (or nothing!), that would be okay.
I think that activities build character and teach important life lessons. I think that learning to love the journey and make it through to the other side of a challenge should be its own reward. I often talk about how my goal in school was to make the grade, which was usually a pretty simple task. (In all seriousness, missing 50% of my high school career presented its own challenges, but academics weren't a struggle for me). The situations I grew and learned the most from were when my best wasn't what I found to be acceptable. #1. I struggled in college math courses. I had to start at the lowest level of prep and work my way up. I had to study for hours, literally, on end in order to succeed in math. But I actually learned how to work for something; I learned how to understand the math I was doing (but please don't ask me if I remember now!)
#2. I took Communications 1 in college with a professor, Mark McBride (number 4 on this list). He knew I was a good writer, but he pushed me to refine it more and more. My first draft, which was always "good" and acceptable to past teachers was not good enough for him. He saw my potential.
Here's my point...my hope is that I will find a balance. I want to push Ayla, but I don't want to push her over the edge. I want to give her freedom, but I want to give her boundaries. Success is important and so is having a happy childhood. There are so many gifts in the day-to-day that are important, so it is important to have downtime. But there are so many things that are worth working for, striving towards. I want to give Ayla roots, but I also want to give her wings.
And I don't want to piss her off too much because I'm counting on her to keep me out of the nursing home when I'm old.
Readers, please share with me in a comment below:
What kind of mom are you? What's your parenting philosophy?