Friday, 28 January 2011
Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Did anyone read about the Asian-American Yale law professor who wrote a book about how Chinese mothers' parenting techniques bring up successful children?

Here are some of the things that Amy Chua wrote about:

Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

• attend a sleepover

• have a playdate

• be in a school play

• complain about not being in a school play

• watch TV or play computer games

• choose their own extracurricular activities

• get any grade less than an A

• not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama

• play any instrument other than the piano or violin

• not play the piano or violin.

No doubt her education background gave her enough sense to say that she's using the terms 'Chinese parents' and 'Western parents' loosely.

And that's not all.

First, I've noticed that Western parents are extremely anxious about their children's self-esteem. They worry about how their children will feel if they fail at something, and they constantly try to reassure their children about how good they are notwithstanding a mediocre performance on a test or at a recital. In other words, Western parents are concerned about their children's psyches. Chinese parents aren't. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.

For example, if a child comes home with an A-minus on a test, a Western parent will most likely praise the child. The Chinese mother will gasp in horror and ask what went wrong. If the child comes home with a B on the test, some Western parents will still praise the child. Other Western parents will sit their child down and express disapproval, but they will be careful not to make their child feel inadequate or insecure, and they will not call their child "stupid," "worthless" or "a disgrace." Privately, the Western parents may worry that their child does not test well or have aptitude in the subject or that there is something wrong with the curriculum and possibly the whole school. If the child's grades do not improve, they may eventually schedule a meeting with the school principal to challenge the way the subject is being taught or to call into question the teacher's credentials.

If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A.

Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn't get them, the Chinese parent assumes it's because the child didn't work hard enough. That's why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child. The Chinese parent believes that their child will be strong enough to take the shaming and to improve from it. (And when Chinese kids do excel, there is plenty of ego-inflating parental praise lavished in the privacy of the home.)

While I agree that this method has created many successful people, I have to disagree with the approach, based on my own experience. Granted, I'm no specialist, but I do believe that her approach wouldn't have worked with me.

Growing up, my parents did send me for lessons in swimming, piano, and several others. But they have never demanded that I practise for 3 hours! But as I had not exhibited much interest in any of the lessons gradually I stopped altogether.

I do not regret those aspects, although sometimes I do wonder what would happen if I had become more of a master of one thing instead of a jack of all trades.

In school, I was never pressured into performing- I don't ever remember my parents being disappointed with my results. So long as it's my best, they accepted it; with the exception of one time when I needed a pep talk to pump me up.

And I do think that I've turned out fine- completed my first year in university, about to enter my second. Don't do drugs, haven't been in jail or been arrested. I'd say that's a pretty good thing, don't you think?

A child needs to be loved by their parents, to know that someone at least has their back.

What about you? What do you think about this parenting technique?
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Sunday, 23 January 2011
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1. I should have known better than to take my four-year-old son shopping with me. I spent the entire time in the mall chasing after him.

Finally, I'd had it. 'Do you want a stranger to take you?!' I scolded.

Thrilled, he yelled back, 'Will he take me to the zoo?'

2. While my husband and I were busy choosing an air-conditioner to buy in the store, our six-year-old son was wandering around when he spotted a very inviting spa bed.

We overheard the saleslady say to him, 'Do you know what's written there? It says "thank you for not sitting"'.

He answered innocently, 'Yes, I know. That's why I am lying down'.

3. When my friend spotted a blind man and his guide dog at a crosswalk, she stopped her car and waved them on. 'Uh, Cynthia,' I said, 'he can't see you'.

'I know that,' she said indignantly. 'I'm waving the dog on'.
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Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Being Home

Few days back I woke up early in the morning just to watch the Golden Globes live, only to realise that if I had slept in I would still have been able to catch the repeat the same night. But by that time, I was already too far out of sleepiness to be able to go back to sleep, so I watched the entire thing.

That's something that I'm actually grateful for- TV. Granted, it was better before I left (then, the packages weren't so expensive so my parents still subscribed to the movies and sports package), but it is still way better than not having any TV to watch at all- the last few months of 2010. I kept myself in my room, and whatever entertainment I got, came from my laptop.

In many ways like this, coming home is like going on a vacation- you allow yourself some luxury, forget about your worries, re-energise and have a good time. Not that being abroad is tiring. It's just that being there I had to make many adjustments in my lifestyle, and it is only by coming back do I get to enjoy things from home, like food, books, TV, badminton, etc.

When I'm home, I'm suddenly interested in writing and reading again, things I've not enjoyed much overseas. I've also have a fiercer passion for reading fiction, probably because the last few books I've read are non-fiction- I need to healthy dose of creative writing now. Recent events also gave me an idea for a story, so I've been preparing it when I'm in the mood. Hopefully, I can start writing soon (and hopefully have the discipline to continue writing it even when I'm in Melbourne).

Anyway, here are some of the things I've noticed since coming home:

1. Drivers are pretty impatient. Luckily I'm rarely one of them. I've been injected with the patience of Aussie drivers.

2. I got so used to having a microwave I actually thought of microwaving some food before realising there isn't one.

I'd love to visit the place that has this sign!
3. I think this is something that we all get used to growing up, but honestly, home is pretty... dirty. One night when going out to a mamak with friends I walked past the tar roads and saw the holes, uneven road surfaces and rubbish. Suddenly all these become so much more obvious than before.

4. I find it irritable when people ask me what am I 'doing' now, because explaining that I'm in Australia studying public relations has suddenly gotten so much of a chore- you do it over and over again, and yet it doesn't lessen. But it's all right. The fault's entirely mine.

5. Home isn't as disabled friendly as Adelaide.

6. I complain about the public transportation in Adelaide (it's not frequent enough, blah blah blah). But I also complain about the public transportation here (never take the KTM during peak hours... you'll discover a whole new meaning to the words 'sandwich' and 'close contact').

7. I also find it irritable when people complain about how lousy home is and that they'd rather be elsewhere. Seriously, we've had it good. You don't want to be spending RM 9 / 3 AUD on a plain roti canai do you? Complaining is only good when you do something about it (okay that might be a little hypocritical).

8. It takes a lot to amuse me. The hidden ingredient is that I take pleasure from other people's foolishness (Hint: Wipeout!).

I managed to watch that scene on the Amazing Race on TV today. It's so much funnier when you watch it on a wider screen!

That's it for now. Enjoy this trailer of the movie Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper and Robert de Niro.

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Tuesday, 11 January 2011
Friday, 7 January 2011
First of the Year

It's so weird that I'm now an adult. Or going to be an adult, in 9 months when I officially turn 20. In some ways, I think that I'm much more grown up, suitable for a 20 year-old even, but sometimes I think I'm just like a 14 year-old kid, or younger. It's kind of funny that I'm now expected to act like an adult even though I don't see myself as one. Ah, the quirkiness of being a teen!

Cupcakes my sister bought for Christmas

I recently bought a book, 'Madness Aboard!' by Yvonne Lee. It was tales of her experiences as a flight attendant, and I found the stories not only entertaining, but insightful as well, because it gives me an idea of how cabin crews function- what procedures they have to follow, tasks they have to perform, ethics they hold, etc. If you have a love for knowing how things work, I think this book would be a little enlightening.

Few days back I also managed to go back to my high school, where I managed to see a few of the teachers who had taught me. While it was nice seeing those teachers, it made me realise just how long I've been out of school. We were told that quite a number of teachers we know have retired, and I couldn't help but notice how unfamiliar the faces around the school were. These students were  probably just in Form 1 or 2 when I graduated, but still, not recognising most of them was a sign of my impending transition into adulthood.

New Year's Eve was spent at Ampang Lookout Point, where we managed to see fireworks from basically the whole of KL. The dinner, however, was less than impressive- to cash in on the New Year the usual menu was removed in favour of more expensive, blander food.

In the lighthouse at Port Adelaide

As for resolutions, I will resolve to do more writing this year, not just on this blog. I do hope to submit some articles into newspapers and and magazines, and hopefully get published. But having a book published would make one of my dreams come true.

That's all for now. I will end this post with an entertaining video on 'How to Speak English'. Enjoy! 

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