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David Hornik

General Partner, August Capital

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Tiger Mother or Pussy Cat, makes no difference -- anyone who's raised more than one child knows it is all about Nature (not nurture).

There has been an amazing reaction to the recent WSJ op ed from so-called Tiger Mother, Amy Chua (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html). My experience raising 4 children is that no amount of haranging, threatening, bribing or loving my children will change who they fundamentally are. Each one is different and each one responds differently to me as a parent. From where I sit, Nature has a significant leg up on Nurture. Seems to me Ms. Chua is giving herself a lot more credit than she deserves. Which is precisely why I take no credit for the good stuff my children do, nor do I beat myself up about their failings. What do you think? Am I just letting myself off to easy? Am I just lazy? Or am I right?

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    Feb 18 2011: Well, if those are my only choices, then you are lazy. :-)

    As to the article, I think many people are missing the boat on the whole tiger mother discussion. One of the things that seems clear to me is that the core of the conflict is this: a parent who has difficulty making her own way and finding her own place within a culture will face enormous challenges teaching her children to operate within that culture. The difference between her own learned cultural values and paradigms and the ones in which she is raising her children is an index of just how much difficulty she will face.

    I think many people will say "Oh, yes, if I go to another country than I would of course integrate into that culture". But it is not as straightforward as all that. If you are raising your children in a place that values conformity you are as an American likely to confront the traces of American Exceptionalism which have marked your understanding of the world. And you are going to have to resolve that one way or another because the conflict does not go away.

    So yes, I think who our children fundamentally are is to some extent a given. And I also think that parenting is a two way street -- it is not just who the children are but how who they are interacts with how you are that forms parenting.

    However, no, I do not think that how people function within their society is a given. That must be taught, because while the creation of a society seems to be an innate human impulse, the form that society takes and the options presented to the members of the society are not innate. They vary substantially and are taught. A particular child may become a leader of men, if s/he has what it takes to do that. But whether s/he becomes the leader of a prison gang, a human slavery ring, an air force squadron, an ad agency, or the local literacy project remains to be seen. That is partially coincidence and partially nurture, it seems to me.

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