Great Expectations

I read an interesting op-ed entitled Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior. It really made me think, as I reflected on my life as a son, parent, student, and pastor of a multi-ethnic church. The writer, Amy Chua, admits to making sweeping categories of Chinese parents versus Western parents in terms of parenting style, and pulls a bit away from ethnic stereotypes when she states:

I’m using the term “Chinese mother” loosely. I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers, by choice or otherwise. I’m also using the term “Western parents” loosely. Western parents come in all varieties.

While I feel her op-ed was a good comparison of parenting styles, with a good defense of the Chinese style, she must assume that all people have the same intelligence potential.

Chua’s basic argument is this, high expectations from parents result in high achieving, and not mentally damaged, children (and here is the important part) provided the parent is committed to doing whatever is necessary to support, encourage, and motivate the child. Although I did not like her illustrations of how she used shame as one of her motivators, in general, I agree with her premise.

My parents told me that “in school I should earn As and Bs, mostly As,” and that is what I did. When I had trouble in an area, such as spelling in third grade, my parents helped me. In general, however, I was under the misguided impression that asking for help was a type of cheating. In elementary school, when someone asked, “Can I check my answers against yours?” that generally meant, “Can I copy your homework?” It was not until I got to college that I learned how group study is supposed to work, that teachers are there to teach (not just grade), and became an A/A- student. It is high expectations plus enablement (in its many forms) that equals success.

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16.Do we find it difficult to live this command because we do not access the enablement provided by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, or see God for who he is, the one who was/is willing to do whatever it takes to have us achieve this great expectation?

©2011 Paul Tillman

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