Monday, January 17, 2011

The Ideal Parent

Amy Chua wrote this article in the Wall Street Journal about the supremacy of a Chinese upbringing. In it she describes her parenting style, and it being an anathema to Western thought. She compares and contrasts Chinese moms to Western moms. Since Sybil is Chinese (immigrated from Hong Kong when she was 7), I'll chime in, also.

Ms. Chua has a point about the positives of how Chinese moms parent. They are much more strict and take less B.S. than their Western counterparts. Sybil is a perfectionist, which goes along with the Chinese stereotype. She expects her children to as perfect as possible. Of her siblings, she is the least successful: oldest brother is a physician, second oldest is an aeronautical engineer, third oldest is an electrical engineer, older sister is a pharmacist, and younger brother is a pharmacist. Sybil by contrast was a stay-at-home-mom until our youngest was old enough to go to school. Now she helps me in my business. I have seen first hand how a Chinese mom can be. In a word, they are tyrants.

That does not mean that Chinese moms do not love their children. They express their desire to have the best for their children by trying to mold them into being the best. Chinese women have a control freakishness about them that is surprising. The stereotypical Chinese woman is subservient to her husband. That may be true in movies. I have never seen it. Not her mother nor her sister. This need to control extends to their children. Couple that need to status (having "face"), and that is can be a bad mixture.

This mixture makes Chinese people great employees. You want a software written without bugs? Get a Chinese person to do it. You want a doctor to operate on you? Get a Chinese person to do it. You get the drift. Sadly, this form of upbringing makes for poor entrepreneurs. The perfectionist, play-it-safe upbringing makes for a terrible skill set for striking out on one's own. The fear of failure and, therefore, loss of face is too great. A Chinese upbringing makes for too much emphasis to be placed on getting the right credentials and not developing a skill set.

What skills are needed? In my opinion, the ones listed below:
1. Self-esteem. To start a business or move up in the corporate ladder one needs self-esteem. Being a worker bee trapped in a cubicle, while safe, is a soul-sucking existence.
2. Networking. Controlling the types of people one's children come in contact with, leaves that person in a poor position to be able to relate to others. Many Chinese people have a hard time relating to non-Chinese people.
3. Broad knowledge. Thinking that one has the right credentials guarantees life long income and comfort is wrong headed. As the economy changes, getting more credentials only means one becomes more and more specialized. The more specialized one becomes the less able to adapt to change. Also, credentialism has little to do with intelligence or knowledge.

What happens to these Chinese kids in the real world? They've gone to be best universities and have seemingly successful careers, yet they are "socially autistic". They become disillusioned with their life's path, which leads to bitterness.

I think life has to be a balancing act. Only focusing on getting "A's" in school, being the best in piano, etc. with nothing else to make one a well-rounded person makes for a sad, shallow existence. Life is a challenge. Being so caught up being the best, creates more stress and challenges.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I'm Not Dead

Sorry for the dearth of posts. It seems that as a blog ages, the posts become less frequent.

Things with Sybil and me are pretty good right now. It comes down to acceptance. She is starting to accept my faults, instead of trying to change them. I'm starting to accept the fact that this is as good as it gets. With the exception of her over the top, exaggerated histrionics, she's a pretty decent wife. Naturally, I wish the sex was better. I guess vanilla ice cream is better than no ice cream.

After over 17 years of marriage, it boils down to love. What is love, though? It isn't that tingly feeling that one gets. It is much calmer. Although I wish the lust portion of our marriage was better, I think we are more in love now than we have been in a long time. We still have a our blow-ups, but she is more calmer. I think Sybil decided to make peace with me. I think I have decided to make peace with her. That is the key to it.

People spend so much of their time being resentful that it becomes like a virus. When a virus infects a cell, it takes over the machinery of the cell. The cell starts producing more viruses that are spread to more cells and so on. Stopping the process of resentment infection can be very difficult. Forgiving someone for a slight (either real or perceived) is very key. Oh sure we can say, "I forgive you," but until that is in one's heart, it's meaningless. Many people have resentment towards their spouse and can't let it go. This leads to divorce which is very destructive on so many levels. That destruction can be staved off by forgiveness. Sounds so simple, yet it is so hard.

That's why I haven't been posting much. Sybil and I have come to a consensus. This blog was about my struggles with Sybil. Since we haven't been struggling as much, I don't have as much to post about. I will be posting, periodically. The focus will, probably, change to other topics. Topics that I have been thinking about as far as marriage in general, rather than focusing on my marriage only.

Thanks for reading this pitiful wretch's blog. Life is a struggle. We must always endeavor to persevere.