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Tiger Mum vs Kahlil Gibran
A while ago, I read about a review on the book by Yale Professor Amy Chua on 'Tiger Mom' and didn't think much of it. Recently I watched TV program "60 minutes" with my 9 year old daughter which happened to be about 'Tiger Mom' style of parenting. My little girl was horrified and I am not exaggerating. She couldn't believe parents could bring up children that way.
I am not an expert in parenting, I do not have any qualification in that area. The only credentials I have is real life experience of bringing up my three children. There is no way that I can prove my success or failure in parenting. I can only say with pride and joy that I am very close to all my three children. I will tell you the one source I turned to and still do (for almost twenty years) whenever I need to find an answer to the never ending challenge of parenting. You can decide for yourself which parenting style works for you.
Kahlil Gibran was a Lebanese American poet and writer. I stumbled upon this poem when I was desperate for parenting help. My first born has similar personality to me, we were happy playing puzzles, reading books indoor. Matt, my second born was a different breed. He is active and loves outdoor, he loves pulling things apart and see how they worked. I was trying to make him stay indoor, play with the puzzle, watch 'Sesame Street'. I couldn't understand why he was such a 'difficult' child. It must have been 'hell' for him the first year of his life when it is hard for him to be himself. I was getting quite desperate to solve the 'Matt' problem. I tried reading some parenting books, couldn't even get past the table of content, there are so many techniques to learn, the right ways to discipline, the right words to use - why wasn't I told about this in school?
I have no idea how I came upon this poem by Kahlil Gibran, most likely an answer to my prayer. After I read the poem, I just sat there and observe my little boy and for the first time, actually let him be himself and accepting him as he is. I tried to see the world through his eyes, it is just a very different world to the one I live in. Voila, since then we have such a wonderful mother-son relationship. If I were a 'Tiger Mom', I don't think I would have learnt so much about sports - soccer, tennis, cricket, Australian football. Matt has played at least one season for each sport and decided for himself which he likes to pursue. I never sent any of my children to extra tuition, yet all three of them are in top spelling class.
After having two boys, I am blessed with a little girl, Fay. I was always in a rush to get from one place to another, as I was working full time and need to take the kids to different activities, time was very precious and scarce. Fay teaches me to slow down and enjoy 'flowers' that are commonly known to the rest of us as 'weeds'. Instead of just allowing travelling time to kindergarten, I learnt to spend time with her at the swing. To these days, I still treasured those special moments.
You probably worked out by now that my three children have quite different personality and there is no way that one style of parenting would be adequate. It really wasn't about me, the parent, it really is about them as an individual.
Here is the poem:
Your children are not your children. They are the sons and the daughters of life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love, but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls.
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
Let your bending in the archer's hands be for gladness.
I sincerely hope you find the right parenting style for your children. I hope you find Kahlil Gibran's poem inspiring and helpful as it has been for me. The right style is the one that brings parent closer to child, the one that will help both the parent and child grow together to reach their potential and enjoy the life journey together.