The Jewish Chronicle - JC Magazine - - Family Life -

Tiger Mother, was pub­lished in 2011, telling of her cam­paign to im­pose a strict Chi­nese par­ent­ing style on her two daugh­ters, the de­fault po­si­tion among western par­ents was slight un­ease.

Surely our chil­dren would not re­act well to the im­po­si­tion of such an un­bend­ing timetable — week­ends filled with ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, home­work and chores. Child­hood, or at least a por­tion of it is for mess­ing around. Right?

And yet parts of Chua’s po­si­tion chimed with our own guilt. Par­ent­ing is af­ter all meant to be hard work and we all want to give our chil­dren the best pos­si­ble chance in life. So maybe we should be en­rolling them in vi­o­lin classes at three years old and gym­nas­tics at four. And if, by the time they have fin­ished re­cep­tion, they are not lead­ing the class in nu­mer­acy, then per­hap­swe­need to think long and hard about Ku­mon classes af­ter school.

So to what ex­tent should leisure time be taken se­ri­ously? A num­ber of stud­ies have sug­gested that to be­come ex­pert at any­thing from ten­nis to flute, you need to put in 10,000 hours of prac­tice — and that means start­ing very young. Clearly if you are as sus­cep­ti­ble to guilt as we Jews are, this is a com­pelling ar­gu­ment. For many in the com­mu­nity, ev­ery mo­ment the chil­dren are HEN AMY Chua’s memo ir , Bat­tle Hymn of the

SUM­MER 2013 sit­ting at the com­puter or veg­ging-out watch­ing the TV is a par­ent­ing fail­ure and his­tor­i­cally Jewish par­ents have been ev­ery bit as am­bi­tious for their chil­dren as their Far Eastern coun­ter­parts.

How­ever, oth­ers beg to dif­fer. A new book en­ti­tled Minimalist Par­ent­ing at­tempts to demon­strate to both mothers and fa­thers that a less-in­tense ap­proach to bring­ing up chil­dren can be both more fun and more ef­fec­tive. Amer­i­can co-au­thors Chris­tine Koh, who comes from a strict Korean fam­ily and Asha Dorn­fest, who is part-In­dian, part-Jewish, came to the re­al­i­sa­tion that the ex­treme par­ent­ing they felt com­pelled to in­flict on their chil­dren was not work­ing.

Dorn­fest found it hard to re­lax as a mother. “I read dozens of man­u­als and I was al­ways on the in­ter­net. I couldn’t be nat­u­ral. I even learnt how to change a nappy from di­a­grams,” she says. Both women de­cided that good par­ent­ing should be more about learn­ing how to trust their in­stincts more and giv­ing their chil­dren more time to de­velop


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