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Why Does Raising Your Kid Require a Battle Hymn?

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Is it just me, or does the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother media infection set your nerves on edge? 


Now, I don’t mean to be judgmental, I just have a bit of a hard time understanding the lifelong personal benefits of “Old World Discipline.” We’re pretty progressive ‘round these parts. So progressive, in fact, that when my sick kid balked at his pancakes this morning and wanted a lollipop, I gave it to him. Quit judging me. I bet you put syrup on your kid’s pancakes. I was just smart enough to cut out the carbs and maple-flavored handprints on my IKEA couch. 


Recently, my husband came home from work and warned me:


“If you’re in the PX or Commissary and the boy acts up, don’t discipline him. The Army is going around posts making sure that people aren’t abusing their children. If you swat him or yell in public, I can get in trouble at work.”


Is there a happy medium here? Up to what point is appropriate and effective child rearing a matter of personal, familial, or cultural opinion? Should my slapping my kid’s hand in the grocery store for screaming and grabbing candy be a punishable offense? And, if yes, who should be made punishable? Assuming I am a lollipop-giving, hand-slapping harpy, why should my husband be reprimanded for having the misfortune of having children with me?  


While it’s clear that this woman is pleased to be at an educational and social stature that she views to be both intellectually and socially superior, I can’t help but feel that she’s lost out hugely. Not only as a mother, but also in the simple joys of life. I’m sure that saying I find a published, accomplished Yale professor “pitiable” will highlight me as slightly ignorant. I mean, I have no college education, I have yet to be published on anything other than public forums (and am the only one doing the publishing), and my children do not yet excel at anything other than dancing and singing raucously while making a gigantic mess. Despite those points, I wouldn’t trade my son running up to me and hugging me as tightly as his tiny arms allow, for no reason that I can see. I can’t imagine my stepson not wanting to color or read with me, snuggled on the same IKEA couch. I think I might fall apart without my stepdaughter wanting to cook with me, or spend time simply hanging out and talking. 


Obviously, being pushed to be “stereotypically successful” can be sporadically beneficial. But at what cost? Does this person think this is fair for her children? How many times have you heard of the criminal and derelicts “they weren’t hugged as children” or “those are ‘mommy’ issues”? Is hearing your kid flawlessly fingering Mozart or Basie (assuming they are allowed to have fun once) a fair trade for the child/parent relationship?


Before you get too worked up, this is not a book review. To be honest, I have about as much intention to read this book as I have to read … well, anything else with the word hymn in the title.  


I have a bit of a hard time finding it acceptable to equate a culture known for its strictness to marketed child abuse. While I’m sure it can be rewarding watching your child excel so immensely at a task, I find it counterproductive to society as a whole to publicly laud the berating and emotional beating of our loin fruit.


I suppose that if your goal is to raise the prodigal child (and possible subject matter expert on the Triad of Sociopathy), then the Battle Hymn is an acceptable route. 


Me? I’ll take cupcake-baking messes, hugs, and explaining what “Under the name of Sanders” means. But, then again, my kid shakes his ass to Count Basie and Drowning Pool. 


What are you gonna do? 

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