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Jan 24 2011

Amy and Ayelet, Go Away!

By at 11:44 am

Ayelet Waldman, the "Bad Mother"

Amy Chua, "Tiger Mother"

I’m not finished with Amy and Ayelet.

I was trying to decide why I find them (and their recent pieces in the Wall Street Journal) to be so incredibly annoying.

I finally got it. They are just so smug. Not only have they figured it out for themselves and their kids, they not-so-subtly imply that they’ve figured it out for all of us and our kids, too.

Well, a little humility and self-doubt is in order here.

Parenting is the story of self-doubt, feeling incompetent, feeling humble and, at times, awestruck at our own stupidity. How do we feel when a baby is trying to tell us something and we have no idea what they’re saying despite our college and advanced degrees? How come our 3-year-old boss gets exasperated with us while our supervisor in the office seems satisfied with our performance? Why did I hyperventilate in the clothing store, shopping for school clothes for four children, with them in tow? I am calm and collected at my desk as a professional! Why do we stay up long into many nights trying to figure out what to do with a particularly challenging problem with our kids?

Because, to a certain degree, we’re supposed to feel incompetent. We’re supposed to feel humbled by the awesome task of raising children. We’re required to toss things around in our minds, looking for the right answers even though we might get the wrong answer. Or have the humility to accept that there may be no right answer. Or there may be many right answers. And although we do become more experienced as we have more children, and as we mature into the parental role, each child will present her own challenges and we will feel like we are starting from zero, again.

If you think you’ve got it so right that you can not admit that you’ve fumbled, bungled and, at least occasionally, been inadequate to the task, you and your kids are in trouble. It’s dangerous to feel so sure, so certain that you are getting it all right.

After 30-plus years of mothering four children I am sure of only this–that your kids need to feel that they are the most important thing in the world to you; that they know you have their back; that it is essential to respect and love your kids even when they are disrespectful and unlovable; that you are kind and consistent disciplining; that you help them be the best selves they can be and not an extension of yourself; that you say you’re sorry when you’ve been wrong. And that you know that sometimes, you will be wrong.

Okay. Now I’m finished with Amy and Ayelet.


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2 Responses to Amy and Ayelet, Go Away!

  1. teena says:

    oh so true. he last few blogs about parnting really hit home and are a great reminder . thanks.teena

  2. Good points, Renee! You put it very well.

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