Thursday, August 25, 2011
I’m sure you remember the Tiger Mom. The one who did not allow her child to have sleepovers. The one who imposed an outmoded and Un-American regimen of rote learning and brutal piano practice on her daughter.
We all remember the cries of anguish coming from American parents. How dare she? How dare Amy Chua suggest for a minute that there is anything better than an All-American upbringing? Where does she come off with all that Confucian clap trap?
As we all noticed, American parents excel at tantrums and bluster. Quick to take offense; quick to express outrage; convinced that their way is better… they are, after all, Americans.
Their self-esteem may not have any basis in fact or achievement, but, gosh darn it, they have the highest self-esteem.
American parents are the best because they follow the best advice from the best psychologists. They send their children to the best schools to be taught by the best teachers. If the schools are not quite the best, at least they are the best funded.
Even if their children do not turn out the best, they have done the best that any parent can do. Isn’t that what matters?
American parents rose up to smite the Tiger Mom because they sensed that she was being judgmental. She was not doing things like the rest of the Moms. Thus, she rejected their wisdom. Her failure to follow the new American version of childrearing implies a judgment.
If rewards were being handed out for high dudgeon, American parents would win in a walk. Unfortunately for them, no one gives out an award for the best expression of manufactured outrage.
The real issue is how the children who are subjected to this new American regime are turning out.
It’s difficult to know. We can send out questionnaires or do polls about how happy and well-adjusted they are. Someone will certainly find a way to show how creative they have become. They may not have very much discipline or self-respect but they are really great at finding themselves.
If we want a more empirical way to judge the effectiveness of the American way of bringing up children, let‘s try this one:
How many of them are fit for military service? Admittedly, this is not the highest bar. The military does not expect that recruits will be fully formed adults when they enlist. There is a reason why they are called “raw” recruits.
So, how many of America’s young people are fit for induction into the military? The answer, we learn, is: 25%. Link here.
A grade of 25% does not spell success. It spells miserable failure.
Why are so many young Americans unfit for service?
Let us count the ways:
Some are too obese; some are too ignorant; some have too much ink; some cannot pass a fitness test; some have taken Ritalin or some other stimulant; some have criminal records.
To flesh it out, 30% of American adults are obese; 33% cannot pass a treadmill test; 2 million children and 1 million adults are prescribed Ritalin every month.
Perhaps the 75% number is a bit high. Perhaps it is not. Perhaps it is a mere majority. The truth seems to be that America has produced a generation of young people that that is intellectually, physically, and morally unfit for service.
At least we can comfort ourselves with the notion that they all have very high self-esteem.
Posted by Stuart Schneiderman at 7:14 AM