Category Archives: Children

Are Chinese Mothers Superior?

The blogosphere is all abuzz with a lot of women furious about an article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.”  It’s an excerpt from Amy Chua’s new book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” and basically, it’s an analysis of the Asian mentality versus the Western mentality of raising children.  If I had to pick one myself, I’d pick the Asian method of raising children. 

Chua writes: …A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids.  They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies…and whether they could do it too. 
…when Western parents think they’re being strict, they usually don’t come close to being Chinese mothers.  For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments 30 minutes every day, an hour at most.  For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part.  It’s hours two and three that get tough.
Despite our squeamishness about cultural stereotypes, there are…studies out there showing marked and quantifiable differences between Chinese and Westerners when it comes to parenting.  In one study…almost 70% of the Western mothers said either that ‘stressing academic success is not good for children,’ or ‘parents need to foster the idea that learning is fun.’  By contrast, roughly ZERO per cent of the Chinese mothers felt the same way…..Other studies indicate that compared to Western parents, Chinese parents spend approximately 10 times as long every day drilling academic activities with their children.  By contrast, Western kids are more likely to just go play some sports.

I’ve been complaining for three decades about Western parents and just the things Amy Chua talks about.  One of the main differences I have seen between Asian families and Western families is that Asian families will put in the time.  They will not go blame the teacher.  They’ll work with their kid until the kid “gets” it.  Western families mostly blame the teacher and the school and moon spots, because (with their dual careers, divorce, remarriage, shacking up, and love lives) they don’t put in the time. 

I’m much more a believer in the ultimate benefits of strength and courage and tenacity in life that you find with the Asian mentality.  However, when the kids become adults, they can choose their way.  But when they’re growing up, they need to learn how to handle choosing their way.


Proposed Ban on Fast Food Toys in San Francisco

To tempt or not to tempt….that is the question.  Whether ’tis nobler to seduce already or ready-to-be overweight children with pop toys to get them to eat more fat and salt than a horse would tolerate OR find a way to combine good business sense and family-friendly nutrition?

Apparently, McDonald’s would rather just seduce your kids – it makes good profits.

Well, that could no longer be the case in San Francisco.

Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors gave preliminary approval to banning toy giveaways in Happy Meals and similar fast-food offerings aimed at kids, unless they have reduced sodium, fat, and sugar content AND include fruit and vegetables.  The legislation is intended to promote healthy eating and help combat childhood (and ultimately adult) obesity, and was passed by an 8 – 3 vote, the bare minimum needed to overturn Mayor Gavin Newsome’s promised veto.

McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant chain, is fighting the proposal.  The Board is scheduled to take a final vote sometime this week.  The proposed restrictions wouldn’t go into effect until December, 2011. 
Under the proposed ordinance, restaurants may give away a free toy or other incentive item ONLY if the meal contains less than 600 calories, has less than 640 milligrams of sodium, and if less than 35% of the calories are derived from fat (less than 10% from saturated fat), except for the fat contained in nuts, seeds, eggs or low-fat cheese.  In addition, the meals must contain a half-cup or more of fruit and three-quarters of a cup or more of vegetables.

Parents ultimately decide what their kids eat – that is understood.  But all you parents are aware of how pressured you are when your kids have been pumped up by the media to want those toys.  When you try to steer them to the healthier foods, they make a fuss – “No Shrek???????”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2006 found that fast food chains spent $360 million to purchase toys to distribute with their more than 1.2 billion children’s meals sold that one year.

McDonald’s has given toys as an incentive to buy the unhealthy meals.  Now, San Francisco is giving McDonald’s the incentive to give out toys with veggies and healthier combinations of foods.

My feeling about parents feeling pressured once they’re in a fast-food place is NOT TO GO INTO FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS WITH KIDS!

Make sandwiches at home and have a picnic out on some grass with fruit juices and an apple for dessert.  Ultimately, it’s the parents’ fault that 1.2 billion unhealthy children’s meals went into the arteries of innocent children.  Fast food places like McDonald’s count on your weaknesses, laziness, and lack of commitment to health and fitness.  That’s how they make a profit!  So, take responsibility!

Think of the Child, Not Yourself

I’m getting more and more scared for our country and our society.  The attitudes and behaviors which were once marginalized are now becoming mainstream, tearing apart the fabric of families and the well-being of individuals.

You may remember my comments about Jennifer Aniston’s movie “The Switch,” which focused on parenthood via donor insemination.  Well, she had a bit of a tussle with Bill O’Reilly, who said in August that Aniston’s comments on women’s ability to become mothers without men were “destructive to our society.”
He was right.

What is this feminist, liberal rush to eliminate dads from the life of children?  We already know the promiscuity of little girls and the sociopathic behavior of little boys in families without a dad.  The agenda of “I am woman, hear me roar” is louder than the factual necessity of a dad in the lives of children?  How could that happen? reported that Melissa Singer  “always knew she didn’t want to get married.  It wasn’t that she didn’t like men or relationships; she just never felt the desire for constant partnership.  What she did want, however was a child.” The New York City woman is quoted as saying: “Motherhood was the thing I wanted to do most in the world.  I wanted to have a child.  I wanted to be able to pass along the traditions that my family had.  I wanted to be able to give my parents a grandchild.”

So she went to the local sperm bank.  Her child is now 14, and doesn’t have a daddy, because mommy was (in my opinion) too controlling and narcissistic to marry for the sake of the child.

Eric Blyth, a professor of social work in a British university told LifeScience that “I could never really see that there was such a big difference certainly from the child’s point of view between adoption and donor conception, in terms of children knowing where they come from.”

Good Lord, is he kidding?  An adoption to a two-parent, “mom and dad” family has the same impact that the knowledge that there really is no dad – just sperm from a laboratory??  On what planet does he think this could possibly be true?

This does point out, however, that agenda trumps facts more and more these days.

Through the lens of Hollywood, we’re mainstreaming behavior which hurts children and society, while positioning that behavior as equal to or even superior to traditional attitudes.  We have movies about confusion as to whose sperm donation did the deed; we have movies about two women with one sperm donor, and the humor and warmth that comes from that situation – all in the service of redefining the family as whatever you wish it to be.

We also have several television programs depicting multiple-wife situations as a reasonable alternative to the intimacy and commitment between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage.

Basically, ours is becoming a free-for-all society where folks can have what they want….at the expense of children.

I’ve been warning about this for three decades, only to be met with indictments of being “hateful” to the adults in these situation.

I do not hate.

I suffer the children.

Reality TV Tolerates Child Abuse

Whether you call it “reality,” or “actuality,” it makes for “trash” television on purpose.

Matt Philbin, managing editor of the Culture and Media Institute says: “Reality television plays to people’s worst instincts and depends on people behaving badly, manipulating others, lying and violence.”

In my opinion, that’s putting it mildly.

Reality TV is the disgusting intent to make money by catering to the lowest qualities in human beings:  being entertained by death, evil, mayhem, cruelty, and downright stupidity.

MTV’s contribution to the waste of the airwaves, Teen Mom (which, by the way, targets down to 12 year olds) shows Amber Portwood violently kicked, punched, and slapped by her on-again/off-again fiancé, and the father of her illegitimate and most unlucky child.  She responds with a vulgar tirade – all in front of the child – and the cameras roll…and the cameras roll.
Nobody thinks of this as child abuse?  I do. Upon viewing that video, authorities from Child Protective Services should have taken that child into protective custody and attempted to terminate their parental (and I use that term loosely) rights.

In season 2 of E!’s “Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami,” Fox News reports “Terrified new mom Kourtney was seen cowering and locking herself in a room with their then five-month old, as Scott Disick litters the floor with broken glass amid a violent alcohol-involved tirade.”

Grossly bad behavior these days is fodder for a TV show, with fame, fortune, nice cars, and a fabulous lifestyle as a reward.

I demand to know, considering there is video evidence, why Child Protective Services in neither case has taken the child away from each of these unfit mothers?   I’m not an attorney, but I believe this is criminal activity and I know it’s psychologically abusive to the children, as well as downright dangerous to them.

We don’t seem to have come far from the Christians/lions and gladiators as entertainment.

Blood, violence, fury, danger, vulgar displays – these form the core of the TV shows we see now.  I long for the good old days.

Who’s Harder to Raise – Boys or Girls?

I came across a very interesting article in Parenting magazine:  “Boys vs. Girls:  Who’s Harder to Raise?”  If you only had one or the other, your answer would simply be whatever you endured as a parent!  If you had both, well you probably have strong opinions based on which kid gave you the most grief, stress, and challenge.

According to the article, parents of boys complain about dealing with “fights, farts, and video games,” but parents of girls complain about “fussy fashion, prickly social navigations, and a far greater capacity to hold a grudge.”

They’re both right.  Boys are girls are equally “harder” – just in different ways. Of course, every child is unique and environment counts for something, but there is such a thing as a male brain and a female brain, and they operate quite differently!

Here are some categories to look at:

1.  Discipline
Boys are harder.  Boys are less verbal and more tactile.  Telling them to “stop” is not as powerful as picking them up and plopping them back in their rooms.  Boys respond to physical cues.  Girls respond to verbal ones.  And at least while they are young, girls tend to want to please more; boys are simply into their own worlds and are more impulsive.

Five times as many boys than girls are singled out for medication or diagnosis with some disorder when it is likely just the result of a male brain requiring more opportunities to expend innate energy and aggression (which is why sports is more important for boys than girls – there, I’ve said it).  Boys need firmer limits too (which is why I think boys and girls should be educated separately, and boys should have alpha male teachers.

2.  Physical Safety
Boys are harder because they are inherently more physical and risk-taking.  Taking risks for boys is “hard-wired” in, whereas girls are more careful.  Boys need to be guided into limits; girls need to be encouraged to take risks (this is usually what a father does for his daughter).

3.  Communication
Girls are hard wired to be people-oriented, while boys are hard wired to be action oriented.  Boys talk later than girls and have more trouble connecting feelings with words.  Girls talk, talk, and talk some more and get involved in drama, drama, drama; boys will fight with each other and then it’s over – off they go to do rough and tumble.

4.  Self-esteem
Girls are harder, because they’re people oriented and therefore people pleasers.  Boys march to their own drums.  Girls worry more about what friends think and say about them and they try to achieve perfection in how they look, becoming absorbed in who likes them.  This is why sports and creative arts are important for girls – when girls use their bodies with strength, and their talents with creativity, they gain a positive sense of themselves.

The bottom line?  Parenting claims that boys are harder early on (girls are cute and compliant at this stage, but boys are impulsive and rowdy), while girls get harder later on, with all their relationship and self-image turmoil.

So no matter what gender your children are, “fasten your seatbelt” – you’re in for a bumpy ride, but one which is also emotionally rewarding.

Don’t Rescue Out-Of-Control Kids

Many modern parents have a very bad habit of coddling their children, ultimately turning them into out-of-control monsters.

Here’s one scenario:  a driver in Florida left the keys in the ignition and the engine running of his 1966 Acura Integra to run inside an Italian restaurant to pick up a take-out order.  That was just too much temptation for a 17 year old, who with his 14 year old buddy, jumped in the car and drove away.  He was followed by owner in a separate car, police were called, a description went out and the two were apprehended post haste.

At the 17 year old’s hearing, his mother told the court his father was serving with the military in Iraq and, basically, her boy was out of control.  The judge set his bail at $25,000, pending trial for felony charges of possession of a stolen vehicle, and a misdemeanor battery charge and several traffic citations.  His mother informed the judge she, indeed, did have the money to meet bail, but she wanted him to stay locked up.

The judge said: “I want to know why there are not more parents like this.  I applaud her for her truthfulness.”  As her errant teen was hauled off to the holding cell, Mom told him “You think about that, while your Dad’s in Iraq!”

This mother did just the right thing.  Her son will suffer the ugly consequences of his disrespectful, out-of-control, arrogant behavior, and it will make an impact.  If he is rescued by Mama with bail and a manipulative lawyer who will say the kid is upset because his dad is in combat, this boy will be further lost into the “Lord of the Flies” scenario.

I remember reading Alfred Hitchcock’s father arranged for him to stay overnight in a jail cell in their English town.  This was entirely prophylactic, as he hadn’t done anything wrong.  Hitchcock reported being so very scared he never, never, never did anything which would get him back there for real.

Hopefully, this young man will have the same reaction, or he’ll be back for a longer stay next time.