I saw this mom on TV this week, and felt a little sorry for her. She recently wrote a book about being a Chinese mom (a Tiger mom, she says) and had come under severe criticism for being too tough on her children -- not allowing sleepovers, playdates, TV, computer games or a choice of which instrument to learn. She said her book was a "coming of age" book about parenting and that she had learned along the way and would make some adjustments now. Having made my parenting mistakes and at times being too demanding and saying the wrong thing, I could relate.
But then I read this essay, excerpted from her book, about her forcing her 7-year-old to learn a complicated piece for a piano recital. She wouldn't let her leave the piano -- even to go the bathroom -- and she called her lazy and stupid, among other things. Her approach worked in the wee hours of the night, and I wish it hadn't, because I think another approach would have: working with the girl hard over a number of days in an encouraging, but strict, way, minus the name calling and threats. I have to believe there is a happy medium between the traditional Western parenting (maybe being too soft and complimentary) and the stereotypical foreign approach to parenting (where anything less than the best is grounds for meanness and punishment.)