Every now and then, I complain—just a teeny bit—about being a parent. All the time spent driving kids to gymnastics and soccer. Constant coordination of their social lives—sometimes even at the expense of my own. Visits to the library. Making healthy, zero-waste lunches. Homework. But in my dark moments, I’ve consoled myself by thinking about the joyous moments. Like when my son, smiling, shows off the movie “camera” that he made with recycled boxes with real “film” made of strips of paper. Or when my daughter puts on her Vegas-style show featuring three Hula-Hoops.
Then I read Amy Chua’s article “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior” in the Wall Street Journal and realized what a fool I’ve been. For years, I’ve been worried about whether my children are happy, have friends, are nice to each other, and care about the global community. All this time I’ve wasted, when I should have been focused on raising successful kids.
Why, oh why did I worry about whether my daughter was making friends in kindergarten? Why did I schedule playdates when she was feeling left out? All that time wasted, when I could have been teaching her about fractions or drilling her on multiplication tables, in preparation for life as a math whiz.
When my son told me he wanted to take a break from practicing piano, why did I let him build aimlessly with his Legos? Or play with Coke and Mentos in the backyard? Or, worst of all, flop down on the sofa and watch MythBusters? Oh, those precious moments when he could have been perfecting his scales and learning Tchaikovsky.
Amy Chua made me realize how neglectful I’ve been of the most important aspect of parenting: achievement. It was so freeing to read her article and become aware of how foolishly I’ve attended to my children’s feelings. Friendships aren’t important. My children can’t possibly enjoy learning or feel confident unless they are number one in the class. Playing the piano couldn’t possibly be fun unless they are on stage at Carnegie Hall.
And I definitely don’t need to stress about the fact that my son has dyslexia. Since being number one in his class is all that matters, I will simply yell at him until I am hoarse, put all of his toys in the dumpster, and refuse to let him go to the bathroom until he can read Harry Potter. Chua says I am wrong to worry about his psyche. If he has problems, I should simply tell him that he is “worthless” and “a disgrace.” That will certainly help him overcome his challenges
It was also wonderful that Chua confirmed what I’ve always suspected—that I know what’s best for my children. In the past I’ve had moments of self-doubt. After all, I work as a writer, not a pediatrician, psychologist, or teacher. Now there will be more listening to their own desires and preferences. No more sleepovers. No more games of Uno or Gobblet before bedtime. No more allowing my son to read Calvin and Hobbes and call it homework. And especially no more spontaneous dancing to “Dynamite.” No need to worry about whether they will be psychologically scarred—their achievement will build confidence. From now on, I will focus only on being a superior mother.