I know, I know, it’s the age-old question that every mom deals with. “Am I ruining my kids?” I have yet to meet a mom that feels like they have all the answers (although some social media moms seem to be excelling at motherhood which is odd, since I can’t seem to make heads or tails of my days) but the jury is still out on the mom who knows everything. I recall when our former sitter brought over the book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua. She said the mom reminded her of me. I had never read the book before, but I do remember watching Amy on the Today Show when she was on her book tour. She was getting creamed for the way she was raising her two daughters.
Personally, I didn’t think the way she was raising her daughters was bad at all. Why shouldn’t parents have high expectations of their children? What parent do you know who has children, doesn’t want them to exceed in whatever life pursuits they choose? As I read this book, I was forced to look at my parenting choices which are not a fun thing to do as a mom, you know, the whole “mom guilt” comes in to play.
I was raised by my grandmother who was very old school in her child-rearing ways. She was brought up by her sharecropping father and stepmother. Her parents taught her very early on, how to be a hard worker. She picked cotton in the cotton fields in Mississippi. When she was old enough, she worked for a white family doing their ironing, cooking, and housework. She knew what hard work was, and she was very intent on teaching my sister and I what it meant to work hard.
By the time I was 7 years old, I could clean up the entire kitchen, take out the trash, clean up the bathroom, sweep, and do my laundry. I was not allowed out of my room unless my bed was made, and I rarely watched television, unless it was news related.
I thought this was the worst way to grow up. Now that I have kids of my own, I’m not so sure it was. I knew what hard work was, I was taught how to run a household, although I wasn’t aware of this at the time. I wanted to rebel against the norm, but I knew better. Doing what I was expected was a lot easier than being spanked for being defiant, so I did what I was told, no questions asked (okay, maybe a few questions and a couple of quiet, snide remarks).
Like most kids who grew up in a strict household, I vowed to NEVER make my kids do the things that I had to do. I would never wake my kids up at 6am on a Saturday to clean. I wouldn’t force them to do their own laundry, or clean the entire house until it was spotless. And then I had kids.
My kids don’t do nearly the amount of chores that I had to do when I was growing up. My kids have all had bikes, scooters, skateboards, computers, iPads, their own Netflix icon, a playground in the backyard, video games, and bookshelves full of books, none of which I had growing up. I was more responsible! Sure I played outside with the neighborhood kids, but only after all of my household chores were done. As I’m sitting here thinking now, I don’t believe my oldest son made up his bed this morning, even though that has been a rule in our house since he was 5 (he’s 14).
My kids rarely do their own laundry since they’ve been back in school, and I can barely get them to put away the laundry that I wash, dry, AND fold. The extent of cleaning my kitchen stops at loading the dishwasher. I’m pretty sure 2/6 of our kids could do a good job of sweeping our kitchen floor, and 3/6 would do a decent job vacuuming. We won’t even get into cleaning the bathroom.
I declare it to be a good day if I can still see my living room floor by the time my husband comes home from work in the afternoons. Don’t get me wrong, my kids are capable of doing ALL of these things. I have taught them the correct way to do all of these chores. The problem is, unless I am standing over their shoulders watching them like a hawk, chances are, they won’t get done.
I’m not writing this blog to make my kids look lazy and unmotivated. There is always motivation when a cookie is involved. I am mostly worried about myself. By trying to rebel against what I was taught growing up, am I doing my kids a disservice? What will happen to my girls when they have to run a household themselves?
It’s no secret that girls usually run their homes the way their homes were run. Will my son’s wife call and complain because my son doesn’t take out the trash on a regular basis? If this way of raising me was effective for me, why isn’t it the way to raise my children. No one is allergic to a little hard work, am I right?
After reading this book it hit me, are my expectations of my kids too low? Have I decided that they wouldn’t succeed in things so I don’t push them to be great? Maybe Amy Chua has the right idea! She is pushing her kids to succeed in life. As a mother, she is willing to put in the hours of hard work to see her kids achieve set goals.
I can’t imagine what my kids could do if I were more persistent. Isn’t this what every mother wants for her children? I’m definitely going to make some changes around my house. Don’t worry, I won’t go extreme Tiger Mom on my kids. I do think that Amy has some good ideas in her book that each of us can glean from.
What is your parenting style?
Have you read Amy’s book?
Look forward to hearing from you