blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The parent and the child

Chris and I went to his singing lesson and this week we worked on Beethoven's little song, Ich liebe dich. I like it when we do this one because the accompaniment is not too difficult to play. As with several of the songs we practise, it has memories attached. After the lesson, I told Chris what I remembered about this one.

When our children were teenagers, Emma 15 or 16, George 14 or 15, I came home one day to a surprise they'd prepared for me. George, who had only recently started playing the piano, sat down at the keyboard and Emma stood beside him ready to sing. They had found the music by themselves and taught themselves Ich liebe dich, which there-and-then they performed for me. In a welter of thoughts and emotions (which, as usual, I did my best to conceal) I remember thinking, that's it! I have succeeded. I have got my children to the point where they do not need me any more.

It had been my conscious goal from the earliest days of their lives gradually to turn them into self-sufficient human beings and let them go, in preparation for a time when I would no longer be around to support them.

My son and I have been thinking lately about the difference between Western approach to parenting and the Chinese way. Here are two quotations.

From Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (George sent me this book for Christmas):
Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything […] Chinese children must spend their lives repaying their parents by obeying them and making them proud. [...] My parents always paid for everything, but fully expect to be cared for and treated with respect and devotion when they get old. [...] Westerners believe in choice; the Chinese don’t.
From Elaine Lui’s Listen to the Squawking Chicken (lent to me by a friend after I'd told her about the Tiger Mother book):
In Chinese culture, children have to be good to their parents. For the Chinese, Filial Piety is considered the fundamental cornerstone of an enlightened civilization [and] dictates every action. It is the original building block of Confucian philosophy and therefore the defining virtue in Chinese culture: our primary objective in life is to respect our parents and our ancestors. [...] Filial Piety is a lifelong requirement. It is every child’s duty to respect the parent, to support the parent, and to bring pride and honour to the parent. Filial Piety puts the onus on the child and not the parent.
   This is the critical difference between Chinese and Western parenting philosophy. Modern Western parenting emphasizes the child over the parent. Being a parent is widely accepted as the most selfless of human acts. A mother wants only the best for her child––to provide opportunities for her child to achieve her dreams, to accomplish her goals, to live her best life possible––with no reward in return. A child is encouraged to pursue her own objectives independently. The parent is happy if the child is happy. According to the tenets of Filial Piety, however, the situation is reversed: a child can only achieve true happiness when she has successfully secured the happiness of her parents.

No comments: