「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Pushy parents

By Mike Dwane


I was dropping my three-year-old son off at the creche recently when I heard a boy not much older ask his father “Daddy, do you think I can go home early today?”

Quite sternly, his father replied: “If we work together and cooperate, we can achieve that goal.”

It struck me as a strange way to speak to such a young child. It was more like something you might say to a new recruit in a company, an army regiment or a religious cult.

Another odd thing I noticed was that it was a bitterly cold morning and while I was wrapped up in my winter coat, “SuperDad” was in a cotton shirt with short sleeves. He marched the child into the room and left without saying goodbye. It appeared obvious to me that he was one of those pushy parents, a disciplinarian prepared to sacrifice all the fun of childhood in order to turn the boy into a success ― whatever that means.

I must admit I’d like my boy to play music. But anytime we get out the keyboard, he is more interested in doing violence to the instrument than hammering out a tune. And when he does sing along, he is not keen on expanding his repertoire beyond Mary Had a Little Lamb or Jingle Bells.

Still, maybe it’s best not to push it. Some say that Michael Jackson’s problems started with being forced out on the road at such a young age. But the strange thing about another prodigy ― Mozart ― is that he surprised his father when he started composing minuets at five! His talent was spontaneous and not coerced.

But there are others still, like tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams, who have thanked their parents for pushing them so hard.

When the Chinese-American academic Amy Chua published the memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother in 2011, she caused huge controversy in contrastingstrict” Chinese parenting with what she considered the more “indulgent” Western style. This was part of the reason why Chinese-Americans were so successful academically, according to Chua. However, even other Chinese-Americans thought the book traded too much on racial stereotypes and American fears over China’s economic rise. In one passage in the book, Chua threatens to burn her daughter’s toys if she doesn’t improve her piano practice!

We all want our kids to do well but I don’t think I could go down this road. Piano practice is all well and good but there should be time for making a mess with chocolate or ripping the knees of your trousers in between.



The Japan Times ST: January 23, 2015

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2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版