@WENDY_HARMER #ABUSIVE MOTHER
It was a tweet that was bound to bring me up a bit sharpish: BREAKING NEWS: @wendy_harmer rejects her daughters artwork #abusivemother.
Who needs that hashtag after their name, given the ritual humiliation handed out to less-than-perfect mums everywhere?
My blood ran cold.
Turns out the Fairfax journo, @jonathanvswan was being a bit of a wag, teasing me about a fun and frank comment I had given him about parenting.
I’d told him the story of when my daughter, Maeve (then 7) had drawn a picture for me and I had rejected it as being “not good enough”.
Worse still, I’d done it in front of visitors.
I had been sitting with a table of friends for the afternoon and young Maeve was drawing pictures, ferrying them to the table and fishing for compliments – as kids do.
And she’d had plenty of accolades.
“Oh Maeve, that’s beautiful! You’re SUCH a clever girl. Aren’t you talented?” Etc, etc.
Thing was, as the afternoon wore on, the drawings were being offered at more frequent intervals and I noted that the standard was dropping alarmingly.
No colouring in. No eyelashes on the eyes. No hairstyling. No flowers, rainbows or any of that stuff kids are good at. It was when she handed over a line drawing of a house and a crappy-looking tree with a stick figure in front that I called Time Out.
“Maeve. That’s not good enough,” I admonished. “You can do much better. Now, go back and try harder.”
Her little face fell and then the guests turned on me: “How could you say such a thing?”
Of course, this was years before Amy Chua’s book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother which advocated an Eastern view of parenting; pushing children to excel and succeed, even at the cost of their personal happiness.
One anecdote in the book is about the card daughter Lulu made for her mother’s birthday.
“I don’t want this,” Chua announced, adding that she expected a drawing that Lulu had “put some thought and effort into”.
She threw the card back at her daughter and told her, “I deserve better than this. So I reject this.”
Ahem. Me,”Tiger Mother”? Worn out old “Moggy Mum” is more like it.
However, when does encouragement become empty and meaningless congratulation? When is pushing a child to to do better just plain bullying?
It’s a tough one.
The model of tiger mothering has been deemed “a failure”. Did I have “Tiger Dad”?
When I was in Year 8 and I came home to tell my father I had come second in the whole class in academic achievement, his response was: “Wonderful! Who came first?” The next year, when I did come first, my reward was an alarm clock: “To get you up earlier to do even better.”
Now is the time for you to insert your judgement on father-and-daughter pathology here……………………………….
Don’t think that kids aren’t wise to our frailties and know how to push our buttons.
|Page 1 of 2||next >>|