I wanted to piggyback on David Brooks' Op-Ed in The New York Times earlier this week. In "Amy Chua Is a Wimp" he appraises Chua's critique in her book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" of the way Americans raise their children to be entitled. However, Brooks takes her to task for not respecting the cognitive learning children and adults bring to bear in their emotional and social lives.
Brooks outs a rarely validated reality: Living our emotional lives as they're played out in the social arena is the most difficult, lifelong learning curve humans face.
One of my favorite quotes ever comes from a January 2003 interview with Buzz Aldrin, part of Esquire's "What I've Learned" series: "The final frontier may be human relationships, one person to another." For Aldren, the moon's landscape was easier to navigate than the emotional entanglements of human interaction.
Obama also directed our attention to the substantial weight of emotional connection in the speech he gave in Tucson last week. It's the strength of our connection to each other that will ultimately determine the strength of our democracy.
Maybe Chua is right in her assessment that many American parents lack authority. We seem to want to be our kids' friends more than we want to define boundaries that help them feel safe and cared for. But just as we shouldn't be our kids' friends, nor should we be their prison guards. What we need is balance.
What can parents do to contribute to the true, and broad, definition of our children's success? Give them permission to be whole.
Nurture your child's emotional, social, intellectual and physical worth. Over-entitled children won't be able to experience an authentic sense of self-worth, and neither will those who are obsessively driven to succeed at the expense of all else. It's the children who are supported in being well-balanced who will earn a genuine sense of their own value. They will bring that well-rounded value to participation in society. Neither a person nor a society can be a success without valuing all the component parts of human nature.