Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mommie Dearest

Last night, over dinner with friends, we got on the subject of children reaching puberty before age 10.  Apparently there is a Korean saying that describes children as "not naive, yet pure".  One friend who works at an international school here in Hong Kong commented that, while many of her schoolchildren are worldly because their parents expose them to a wide range of positive experiences, they have yet to develop a truly mature perspective because they are in fact more sheltered than their counterparts in North America.

I thought about my two-and-a-half year old daughter. The lower quarter of our bookshelf is filled with children's books and she is free to choose whatever she wishes to flip through or have us read to her. However, I've put Where the Wild Things Are on an upper shelf out of her reach, partly because it is next to Dave Egger's The Wild Things but mostly because I'm afraid she'll be frightened by the monsters or negatively influenced by the angry tone of the story. Am I being too protective?

Mommie Dearest

When I was growing up, my parents never even glanced at the covers of the books I was reading, let alone censor any of them.  And that's how, at the age of 10 or 11, I got my hands on my first trashy novel, which I remember reading over and over (I loved to look at the photos and see that I was reading about real people).  A daughter's tell-all about her physically and psychologically abusive movie star mother Joan Crawford, my copy of Mommie Dearest was hidden under my bed because even I was aware that it was age-inappropriate.

Parents today are too child-centric, focusing so much on the needs and feelings of their children. My parents are universally acknowledged as awesome parents, but I know that their children's sleep schedule was not of much concern when they brought my brother and me along (with sleeping bags in tow) to late night mahjong sessions with their friends.  And yet that's not so bad, is it?  How different would I be today if back then, my parents were actively involved in what I read or never allowed me to stray from a strict bedtime routine?

Perhaps parents today are child-centric because they worry their children will grow up to be like Christina Crawford.

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