by Trisha Sakhuja – Stony Brook University
“If I had my child to raise all over again, I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later. I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger less. I would do less correcting and more connecting. I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes. I’d take more hikes and fly more kites. I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play. I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars. I’d do more hugging and less tugging.”
~Diane Loomans, from “If I Had My Child To Raise Over Again”
The secret of parenting is being a parent, who masters the balance with them selves and with their child. If parents can properly plant the first seed and nourish it with enough support and love, it will not be easy for the plant to be uprooted.
Parenting doesn’t have to be about putting your ‘child in place’ or punishing their every mistake. And it surely doesn’t mean you force your 7-year-old daughter Lulu to practice for hours on end — right through dinner with no breaks for water or even the bathroom, until at last Lulu learns to play the piece perfectly.
Lulu is the daughter of Amy Chua, Yale Law School Professor, and also the author of “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” which outlines her strict parenting methods, inherited by her own Chinese immigrant parents. Chua became the inscribed ‘tiger mom,’ and also a very contentious debate among American parent households. Chua has opened up their eyes to reality, and that they were much too lenient with their children.
And I agree, some American families do give their child a pat on the back just for being born, which only leads to narcissism and arrogance. But Chua’s extreme methods of screaming, calling her children abusive names, and completely sabotaging their self-esteem, doesn’t seem to be the perfect method to adopt either.
Mostly all immigrant parents, whether they are from China, India or other nations known for their strict parenting values, all expect more from their offspring then is sometimes plausible. There’s no exceptions to receiving A’s in school and there most likely is no exception to picking a career other then the one set out for you on the day of your birth. Studies come first, which means, no play-dates, no sleepovers, and a strict curfew, or sometimes no curfew because there is no such thing as being out of the house past 8pm.
But, honestly, who does your child become? In many cases, a child succumbed to a sheltered personality, who hasn’t been allowed to step outside of the box to experience his own adolescence or search for his ambitions.
I can honestly say, after being a daughter for the past 21 years, it hasn’t been very easy, but it’s become easier with parents who have been active, positive role models, who have instilled me with the values I need to become an independent woman. That’s all not to say they haven’t been strict or aren’t the typical Indian mentality we are familiar with. Their occasional harsh words gave me the push I needed to become a hard worker, but those words never overpowered the love and affection they showered my sister and I with.
My parents have encouraged me to follow a career path, which leads to a stable financial life, but gave me the freedom to explore my strengths, my destiny, and my will power. Not only have they instilled me with a strong sense of the importance of education, but have taught me to live a balanced life following both the Indian and American values.
I have been given enough freedom throughout the years to enjoy my friendships, explore who I am, and where I see myself to be. They have pampered me with lots of love, hugs, kisses, and presents, but always with the same level of moderation. I have come home with a bad test grade, and failed at in many different aspects, but they never stopped encouraging me to try again, and this time, to try even harder. They pushed me as a young girl to become active in extra-curricular activities, and become experienced in other areas then just studies. My mom never misses the chance to give me health pointers, or how to follow a simpler, more natural life style. And my dad never misses the opportunity to show me a film with strong morals.
This article in no way exemplifies how much my parents have done for me or mean to me, but I do hope I can be an example of an Indian-American daughter, living amongst a balanced life with moderate parents, who want the best for me, and will always stand as the strongest pillars of my life.