Everyone’s talking about the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua (who is maybe not that bad after all!), and her iron-fisted approach to parenting. Now Ayelet Waldman, the author of Bad Mother, has joined the discussion with a piece in the Wall Street Journal about her own parenting style. Because apparently parents just can’t resist going on and on about their Parenting, until everyone’s eardrums explode.
Waldman’s ostensibly trying to defend the “guilty, ambivalent, preoccupied Western mom” (which — this again?), but that gets muddled in between yarns about Waldman’s guilt, Waldman’s ambivalence, and Waldman’s preoccupations.
The difference between Ms. Chua and me, I suppose–between proud Chinese mothers and ambivalent Western ones–is that I felt guilty about having berated my daughter for failing to deliver the report card I expected. I was ashamed at my reaction. But here is another difference, one I’ll admit despite being ashamed of it, too: I did not then go out and get hundreds of practice tests and work through them with my daughter far into the night, doing whatever it took to get her the A. I fobbed that task off on a tutor, something I can afford to do because my children reside in the same privileged world as Ms. Chua’s.
Is there some switch that gets flipped when people become mothers that forces them to talk about their guilt all the time? That must be a thing.
I am, actually, grateful to Ms. Chua, and a little in awe of her. I expend far too much of my maternal energies on guilt and regret.
Seriously, I said this last week, but no one listened: parents, please stop talking about yourselves and your parenting! It’s boring. Your kids are fine, I promise. Well — unless you’re doing something wrong.