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  1. I’m having a hard time balancing my career with being a mother. I wonder whom I should look to for guidance.
  2. Oh! I know — Gwyneth Paltrow.
  3. After all, she and I have a ton in common: she’s an Oscar winning actress who is married to a rockstar, and I’m a delusional asshole!
  4. She probably also has access to other people whose experience is also totally applicable to my own, like say, the fashion designer daughter of a former Beatle and a venture capitalist from Silicon Valley who spreadsheets in face time with Bono over steel cut oatmeal.
  5. A tip I got from the venture capitalist was to befriend people like Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and Olivia Chantecaille, of the Chantecaille cosmetics line Chantecailles.
  6. Not only do friends like this allow you to name drop, they also are really good for putting to work when you want to have a makeup lesson for your other equally impressive friends, or if you need to provide tips in a newsletter for your other good friend, Gwyneth Paltrow.
  7. Because it’s important to multitask all the time when you’re a career woman and a mother. Everything must do double duty. If you’re representing a client, then you should buy all of your gifts from them. If you’re buying your gifts from a place, then you should make them a place, make your venture capital firm bring them on as a client! I learned that from Juliet de Baubigny! It’s just one of the ways she has made her life totally amazing.
  8. Another tip I got from the venture capitalist was to keep “transparent plastic tubs” full of tens of thousands of dollars worth of generic gifts for people that might come up during the year including things like Carolina Bucci Bracelets, Starbucks cards, and iPod Nanos. This is a really expensive way of letting someone know they are not special enough to warrant a personalized gift from you!
  9. I knew Gwynnie would be the right person to ask: for example, she taught me that after you put the kids down, it’s totally OK to just leave them in the house unattended for a girl’s night out.
  10. I know that’s what she meant, too, because absolutely no mention was made of third party help with the kids — no nannies or housekeepers whatsoever — in fact, not even her husband was mentioned!
  11. You won’t be tired for work the next day if you go out for a girl’s night out, either, after leaving your kids alone in the London manse, *provided they are asleep before you leave,* the uniforms for Eton have all been laid out, and the cupcakes for the bake sale have all been prepared.
  12. To do: get a monger.

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Backlash To Wussification Of The US Parent?

by anna on January 12, 2011


I really didn’t want to spend more time on the ‘Chinese Mother’ issue, but because it brought up some interesting issues in the comments on Monday I thought it warranted some more thought here. Mostly, I think that Amy Chua, the author of both the book and the article in the Wall Street Journal on the paradigm of the Chinese Mother (who isn’t actually Chinese) is trying to sell books. I also think she might be doing a disservice to her cultural heritage, because some of the things she is classifying as “Chinese” seem to be just instances of emotional abuse. I don’t necessarily disagree with having high hopes or expectations for your kids, or even forcing them to do things to a certain extent that they don’t want to do, but Chua’s descriptions are insane and cross the line. I have to think she’s either writing for effect (to sell books), or else she really does not get how abusive the stories she is telling might be interpreted to be).

I have been reading, off and on, Adam Corolla’s new book (also often offensive, but for totally different reasons), In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks: . . . And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy, which together with Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother forms a kind of an odd couple parenting duo. Both books are representative of a cultural backlash to the overly precious parenting and educational trends that have been in cultural vogue in recent years in the United States, and although I am definitely not on board with many of the ideas espoused by either author, I certainly understand the impulse to write a book like this, because I have felt it myself.

Generally speaking, I’m a fan of Adam Corolla’s comedy, even if I sometimes think his lack of understanding of institutional structures of power is a liability that will keep anyone from actually taking any of the points he makes seriously. There are times when I have to stop reading his book, in fact, because his facile take on, say, how patriarchal expectations of female behavior affect a woman’s ability to advance in the corporate world, for example, makes me want to throw my Kindle at the wall. But then, his outrage over the wholesale banning of peanut butter from his child’s preschool, despite the fact that there is nobody with a peanut allergy at his child’s preschool, and his dissertation about the beauty of the peanut butter sandwich for the child’s lunch — the peanut butter sandwich being the only sandwich that, in fact, improves as it ages — this, this I get! There, he has me!

Because, yeah, it doesn’t seem like a big deal at all, right? Some kids are violently allergic to peanuts, and better safe than sorry, right? And somebody always knows somebody’s brother’s cousin who didn’t know they were allergic to peanuts, and then they one day ate a peanut and then bam! dead. Right there on the preschool floor. So why not just ban peanut butter?

Well, because, fuck. Mini doesn’t like sunflower butter. And none of the other kids are eating his sandwich anyway. And there aren’t any kids who are allergic to peanuts in his class anyway, and also, for god’s sake, what in the hell with the peanuts, when did this happen? Why is everyone allergic to peanuts all of a sudden? Somehow we are able to have grocery stores and restaurants in which peanuts are not banned and everything seems to be OK, but schools, forget it. Nothing to be done there.

Are there bigger tragedies in the world? Oh yes! Most definitely. But, there are like 8 foods Mini will eat, and you’ve banned one of them, and every day when I make his lunch, I think, “Damn, I wish I could make him a PB&J.” Another one of them is grapes — but only whole grapes. And guess who is not allowed to send whole grapes to school, lest the child choke? That’s right: even though I regularly feed Mini whole grapes at home, at school, he is not allowed to have whole grapes. And he won’t eat grapes cut up. Is it unreasonable that he won’t eat grapes cut up? Yes! You are preaching to the choir. But I am not about to force my child to eat something — maybe Amy Chua would do this, but I’m not ready to cross that bridge yet.

So every day, I think: “I wish I could make him a PB&J.” and “I wish I could send whole grapes.” Every damn day I think this. Over the course of years, the rage builds up.

So what I’m saying is: I get it. I get the impulse to come out with some kind of extreme parenting viewpoint just for the hell of it. I think that’s clear, what with some of the topics I’ve written on here — to just say, “I feed my kid Lunchables View definition in a new window and I’m proud of it!” Because, let’s face it, bitches View definition in a new window be crazy.

It’s just that I’m not sure that “backlash” is a winning parenting strategy.

Here’s an ‘interesting’ article: “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.” The author, Amy Chua, is a Yale Law Professor, and has a book coming out this week on the topic of “Chinese” mothers and how they are superior to their Western counterparts, who are just weak namby pambys.

  1. People who aren’t, strictly speaking, “Chinese” include: American-born daughters of Chinese immigrants who grow up to become Yale Law Professors and marry Jewish guys.
  2. Pro tip: when New Haven dinner parties start ending in tears because of your parenting anecdotes, there might be a problem with your parenting choices.
  3. When you say “I knew exactly how highly [your father] thought of [you],” is that before or after he was referring to you as “garbage”?
  4. The term — “cycle of abuse” — is this just another useless Western humanities construct like, say, Yale School of Law?
  5. Wait — you spy on your kid? And it’s your contention that the kid is indebted to you for this?
  6. Sure, you respect your precious little “garbage” now, but what about after she takes a leave of absence from Harvard?
  7. You know, after the one night, Freshman year when, her cheeks aglow with her newfound freedom, she foolishly mixes too many tabs of E with a fifth of Jack Daniels and ends up in the university hospital for alcohol poisoning?
  8. And then when she’s laid out on the stretcher, chanting “It was perfect! I got to be perfect!” and she’s picking out black swan feathers out of her arm, promising any orderly who will listen that she will practice four more hours of differential equations — they will parlay that into a 24-hour hold, then a 72-hour hold, and then an indefinite stay in the psych ward?
  9. Will she still be your same special “garbage” then?
  10. Or will she be maybe a stinkier, more fetid brand of garbage at that point? Something a little more . . . Western, maybe? Something maybe you didn’t plan for in your Chinese Mom Agenda?
  11. And will she be able to, through all of the thorazine and the drool, know exactly how highly you think of her?

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