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Just be happy, please

January 18, 2011

I’m sure by now, a vast majority of you have at least heard of the book called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  If you haven’t, a brief synopsis of the controversy is this:  a Chinese-American woman wrote a book about how she parented her two daughters.  The parenting involved some pretty extreme tactics with the goal of “helping” them to be “superior” in every sense of the word.    I don’t much care about this woman or her children or how she chose to parent her children or how her sweeping generalizations of both “Western” parenting and “Eastern” parenting are being received.

What I do care about is that kids these days don’t seem to have much of a childhood.  At least, not the kind that I enjoyed.  I hear a lot of stories about what it takes to get into college these days (I’m quite sure given the requirements that my alma mater wouldn’t have me if I were to apply as a freshman today) and it makes me sad that many children and their parents have a college “plan” before they even hit puberty.

When I was 11, I was still wearing sweatshirts with puffy paint on them and obsessing over which jean shorts to bring to summer camp.  College was the furthest thing on earth from my mind. As well it should have been.  So was practicing piano until I perfected the piece to my mother’s satisfaction.

What is a parent’s ultimate goal for their child?  To be rich?  To be successful?  To be famous?

How about to be happy?

I don’t know what will come of the kids who are kids today who are freaking out about college by the time they are 12 or whose parents force them to spend every waking minute of their lives in pursuit of “success”, but I’d be very interested to know how happy these kids are in 20 years….

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