Steve and Alex – Tiger Moms (Part 2)

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Steve and Alex discuss Amy Chua’s article about Tiger Moms.

Steve: But, you know it’s interesting.

On the subject of music, if I think of my granddaughter she had a piano teacher.

She didn’t like her piano lessons and the last few years my wife, therefore, her grandmother, has started playing piano.

She also didn’t like having a teacher, but Carmen started playing and she just gets better and better, slowly better.

Then she was spending some time with my granddaughter, Annie, playing pieces and all of a sudden Annie got interested.

So now she plays the piano a lot, but she doesn’t want a teacher and she’s improved tremendously.

As a grandfather or as a father or mother or grandmother, whatever, if you see your child or grandchild playing the piano and playing it well it makes you feel good, right?

But that’s not really justification for forcing them to do something that they don’t want to do.

Alex: Right.

Steve: But, but, I get back to what I said earlier.

If I had stayed with piano and if I could play piano well today I’d be happy.

So there is this element that sometimes the little eight-year-old doesn’t know best and that sometimes a little bit of stimulus and prodding, if done the right way, can be effective.

Alex: Yeah.

I think to take off something from the point you just made is, in your case, if instead of playing football with your buddies or going out and playing hockey that you did play piano and you did develop this higher-than-normal skill and now, today, you were an accomplished pianist in the midst of everything else that you do it would be nice.

But, I think at the same time often with that we tend to then overlook the fact that our childhood may not possibly have been as enjoyable or as liberating and we may not have experienced as many positive things through that time.

Steve: Right.

Mind you, yeah, I definitely enjoyed going down to the park and playing ball or in the winter playing hockey.

In Montreal there were the outdoor rinks and you could go down and play.

Could I have sacrificed some of that?

Even without being a concert pianist, if we have friends over and I can sit down at the piano and play music I mean that’s great, right?

And I have nothing but respect for people who can play music, so there is some value there.

Yeah, it’s hard to say.

Alex: I think with that, too…

Steve: Well, one thing before I forget.

Alex: Okay, sure.

Steve: I wanted to say one thing.

Apparently there was a lot of controversy surrounding this Tiger Mom issue, because it became again one of these issues where okay, the Asian way or the Asian-American way is better than the Western way.

Yes, it is.

No, it isn’t.

And this went back and forth.

But, someone pointed out that a number of Asian-American kids came forward to say yeah, I had a Tiger Mom.

I hated it.

It was very unpleasant.

So, I think some kids react well to this kind of treatment and they don’t mind the discipline.

It might be.

We don’t know how many kids actually have unpleasant childhoods because they really, like me, want to be down at the park playing with their buddies and they were forced to sit at the piano while their mother stood over them and slapped them around every time they got it wrong.

Alex: Yeah.

Now, I’ll bring up a story of a close friend of mine in high school.

He was Korean-American born in the United States, but his parents were both from Korea and had immigrated 25 years ago or something like that.

Anyway, his mom was the typical Tiger Mom, I guess.

She wasn’t as strict, but at the same time he grew up playing piano, playing violin, for how ever many years.

I don’t even know how many years it was, probably at least a dozen years of each and by the time he graduated high school he had a senior recital, which was just him doing all his instruments, including his piano, including his violin.

But, about three years before that he had picked up the guitar and that was something that he really enjoyed.

He became passionate about the guitar and so as soon as he finished his senior recital he dropped violin, he dropped piano and he says okay, I’ve accomplished what my parents wanted me to accomplish with this.

Now he continues to play the guitar, continues to sing and, really, I think he benefits from that musical exposure, but at the same time it goes to show that his parents wanted him to do these things.

But, in fact, now that he has more freedom he says I don’t want to do those.

I want to do this.

I enjoy this more.

Steve: You know I think this is something that I find in other cultures, Asian cultures, even Middle Eastern cultures, the idea that every human being, like your child, is actually an independent human being.

They have their life to lead.

So, you can influence, you can advise, you can help, you can support, possibly discipline, but you don’t own that life of your child.

Some of the stories you read about the kinds of pressures that are put on kids, what they’re allowed to do, not allowed to do, who they can marry, who they can go out with and all this kind of stuff, to me it’s very oppressive; the idea that you feel that you have some kind of ownership over somebody else’s life just because he or she is your child.

So, I think, yeah.

I mean there are some people you can slap them around, pull their hair and it doesn’t bother them at all.

I was that way.

I mean when I was growing up there was more physical punishment, right?

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: So, yeah.

I mean at school I used to get hit all the time.

My parents would slap me.

I got the cane.

I got welts on my bum.

It didn’t bother me at all, but I think there are people who, in fact, can be almost marked by that and we don’t know who those people are.

Alex: Absolutely.

I can say from personal experience that when I was growing up, of course, me and my siblings are different.

My middle brother is the complete opposite of me.

I would say I’m more sensitive.

I’m more reactive towards certain things and say more easily affected by what people will say and do, but he doesn’t care.

He just doesn’t care.

You could say whatever.

You could do whatever.

It doesn’t matter.

It’s a personality difference.

Steve: Right.

Alex: I think even though we were raised in the exact same household with the exact same parents, the exact same siblings and went to the same schools, so on and so forth, that as time went on we grew more and more different.

Steve: Right.

Alex: Right?

Steve: Yeah.

Alex: Now, we still get along, but we’re totally different.

Steve: Right.

Alex: So to say that every kid should do the exact same thing because this is the golden keys to success, it’s simply not true.

Steve: Right. However, I mean I also have some sympathy for the Tiger Mom, like the Tiger Mom wants to do that.

I mean I certainly wouldn’t want the state to come in and say you are not allowed to do that, you know?

So that’s her thing.

It could be a cultural thing and her children may be the next generation of Tiger Moms or they may react against it.

So, I think we can have different kinds of ways of bringing up your kids, different kids.

I mean I believe in diversity, variety, free choice.

I sometimes sympathize with the Tiger Mom to the extent that I think sometimes things are too easy.

Quite honestly, I think the schools in North America are too easy.

I think some of the junk that we have on television is just…I can’t watch it.

It’s just terrible.

I just think that some of that influence from Asia is probably a good thing, so if we have more immigrants from Asia now and they influence, you know, certain things in our culture it might be for the good.

Alex: Well, I must say, though, having recently been in China and, also, watching a lot of Korean TV as well, they have their own silly things.

It’s no more serious than it would be here.

Steve: Right.

Alex: But, I agree. I think reading the article, the article that she wrote about her book…

Steve: Right.

Alex: …this is Amy Chua…

Steve: Yeah.

Alex: …it wasn’t that bad.

She did a good job at explaining why she did this and so on and so forth and she didn’t have this air of superiority saying oh, we are so much better because of this, but it was the title that kind of got to me when he says “Why Chinese Moms are Superior”.

Steve: Okay. Yeah, yeah.

Alex: So I think this notion is, in fact, quite dangerous.

Who are we to say that we’re better or worse?

Steve: Right.

Alex: There’s, in fact, positive elements to each culture.

Steve: Right.

Alex: And there’s negative to each as well, so.

Steve: The best mom is your own mom.

All right, we’ll end up on that note.

Alex: Yes. Cool.

Steve: Okay.

Alex: Thanks for listening.

Steve: Bye. Thank you.

Alex: Bye-bye.

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