Posts Tagged ‘ happiness ’

Tiger Mom vs. Dolphin Dad: Pick a Side

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He has written the fiction book “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” and is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons and can be emailed at jdeprospero@gmail.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

 

In an August 1st Daily News article about parenting techniques, Tiger Mom was pitted against Dolphin Dad. In comparing the two drastically different methods, one simple question was asked. Since I’m a football guy and the NFL’s preseason is underway (Go Jets!), I’ll use a sports analogy to describe it:  As a parent, is it more important to be a militant, hard-nosed coach that nobody likes or an optimistic, confident quarterback that everyone adores? Sounds like a no-brainer to most of us, right? Well, anyone raising children will tell you that it’s not quite that simple. Not only is it next to impossible to remain optimistic and quarterbacky under the demanding stresses of parenthood, but one unsettling, ominous fact always lingers: All children require discipline. But how much? And to what end?

Amy Chua, aka “Tiger Mom” would certainly agree that children require discipline. In fact, she wrote an entire book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” where she touts her track record of raising successful children who don’t have play-dates, don’t watch television, and don’t get grades below an A—a traditional Chinese method of parenting.

 

“Go to your room or I will tap dance on your soul.”

 

Does this mean, though, that being disciplinarians with our children is more important than ensuring their happiness? Shawn Achor, aka “Dolphin Dad” argues in his forthcoming book “Before Happiness” that by smiling around your children, they are more likely to follow suit and smile, too. In his bestselling previous title, “The Happiness Advantage,” Achor states that before we can be happy or successful, we first need to believe that positive change is possible. So while compared with one another, both the Tiger Mom and Dolphin Dad philosophies seem to ultimately focus on two drastically different end games—a child’s intelligence and a child’s happiness.

Personally, I am far more concerned with whether my sons are enjoying their lives and meeting new and interesting people than if I’m positioning them to be Harvard graduates. To assume that success alone yields happiness is an inherently flawed notion. And I believe grooming one’s offspring solely to be professional successes deprives them of not only the joys of childhood, but ultimately contentment in adulthood as well. In other words, this might be the recipe for an office with a view, but it isn’t necessarily the recipe for being able to look in the mirror at night thinking, “I’m happy with who I am.”

Don’t get me wrong. And anyone who’s seen me in public with my children can vouch for this—I discipline my kids. And I believe that’s roughly half of my parental responsibilities, showing my children the invisible line between what is acceptable and what will get you banned from The Cheesecake Factory.

So am I a Tiger Mom or a Dolphin Dad? Mainly, I side with Achor. Although, when my son dropped my iPhone on my face, I was one pissed-off dolphin, flirting with tiger status. And I think that’s the delicate balance that we, as parents, need to strike. We have to be adult enough to dictate social and behavioral norms and enforce them but still childish enough to dress up like Captain Hook (and get into full character, voice and all) for our son’s pirate party (that’s the other half of my parental responsibilities). In fact, I wholeheartedly believe that if you’re not strict when you need to be and playful when it’s time to unwind, you’re not fully giving your child a sense of life’s possibilities. I think our children need boundaries just as much as they need to see that the enjoyment of life does not stop once they’ve outgrown their toys. Besides, everyone I know who was raised with overly strict, demanding parents are either alcoholics or listening to emo music now. But at least they’ve got high-paying jobs. So there’s that.

Which technique do you favor, Tiger Mom or Dolphin Dad? Tell me why by adding a comment below!

 

* Tiger photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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The Fog Will Clear

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

I was strolling in Prospect Park yesterday. Fia was sleeping in her stroller. A couple of moms strolled past me with their newborns. They had that glazed over look I remember all too well from those early months. I was enveloped in a fog, but was okay with it (until my husband proclaimed me certifiable). As time went on, I began to lose my sanity. Lack of sleep, this huge life change and the monotony of it all started to get the best of me. My mom friends would reassure me, It’s normal. It will get better. Trust us. For the life of me, I didn’t know what they were talking about–even leaving the house felt like a chore–but I had no choice other than to hang in there. And wait.

Today, I feel like I am standing on the other side of a huge mountain. I’m not alone, but rather with all you other moms who have been there before me. And it’s my turn to say to those with the glazed-over look, It will get better. Trust me.

From my perch now, I want to share some of my most significant achievements and insights I’ve learned in this  journey. And for all you expectant moms and new moms who hear, It will get better, my advice is not to over-think or question it. Because it does. It is that simple.

Try and get out once a day. Even if it’s only walking around your backyard or to the mailbox. My first outing with Fia was around our block. Small steps but a huge sense of victory and accomplishment.

–The irrational, fearful thoughts will lessen over time. When I first had Fi, I was convinced a brown recluse spider was going to fall out of the ceiling vent into her crib. Seriously. This, despite the fact that I have never even seen a spider in my house, much less the reclusive one (which as the name suggests, isn’t an overly social insect). I went so far as to buy netting to put over her crib. My husband had had it at this point, stormed in her room, ripped the netting from my hands, and threw it out.

–I never thought I’d feel like my old self again. I was overwhelmed with both love and responsibility; angst and self-doubt. From the other side, I now feel like Fi and I are rocking this world together. And I’m not my old self. I’m better. Kinder. More compassionate. More patient.

–Pumping, feeding, washing bottles, doing laundry, changing diapers. Never sleeping. My life was never so tedious in those first months. That changes drastically. Hang in there.

–Now my day goes like this: wake up well rested. Go in to a smiling Fi. She stands in her crib, overjoyed to see me. I feed her. We play. We laugh. We laugh more. She naps. I write this blog. We meet friends. We go to the zoo. The park. The museum. We run. She tortures Wayne. We bathe. We feed. We sleep.

This is one of the few times in my life I’ve felt so content. I want to bottle it up and freeze it. But all the moms before me are saying, Just wait. It gets even better. And now, I don’t question them. I simply believe.

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