Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Triple Package - Tiger Mom is Back !!

Having grown up in India, I don't agree with some of Chua's preachings and what not but nevertheless there are some very basic truth and wisdom in her writings. Her new book - The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America:

Chua and Rubenfeld’s explosive new meditation on success, The Triple Package, has already begun to enrage people, even those who, by their own admission, haven’t read it but have simply heard about how shocking it is. The book asks the charged question of why certain ethnic groups do better than others, why certain populations instil in their children an ability to succeed to a greater extent than others. It is not a subject that we talk easily or freely about but they present evidence that certain immigrant groups in America – Jews, Asians, South Asians, Iranians, Cubans, Nigerians – seem to thrive, largely in economic terms, in test scores, college admissions, net worth and income, while others seem to have a harder time. They also look at the disproportionately large number of Asians in top music schools, of Cubans in Florida politics, of Indians in finance, and of Jews among successful comedians. Why, they ask, do some groups produce more bankers, lawyers, doctors, famous fashion designers, bestselling authors, than others?

They argue that these “successful” groups cultivate in their children a “triple package” of qualities. The first is superiority: children are encouraged to feel superior, chosen, special, turning outsider status into a badge of honour. But they believe that this sense of superiority, of being better than banal mainstream culture, has to be combined with a rousing sense of insecurity, a haunting feeling that nothing you do is ever good enough; it is the combination of these two qualities that leads to achievement, to the kind of obsessive drive that they admire.

The last part of “the triple package” is “impulse control”. In a dominant culture that places a premium on immediate gratification, on hanging out, on fulfilment over hard work, on expression over effort, the ability to defer, to control, to be disciplined is also part of the “package”.

or one thing, Chua and Rubenfeld are very critical of the self-esteem movement, which is to say the warm bath theory of parenting that espouses children feeling good about themselves no matter what. “You can’t raise your child saying, ‘You’re perfect, you’re amazing, everything you do is amazing,’ and give that person the drive to get somewhere,” Chua says. “Self-esteem has to be earned to be really internalised, in order for a child to have that unbreakable sense of superiority.” Her point is that if you praise your children for mediocre grades, for not scoring goals, for painting a blah painting, they know in their hearts that they have not succeeded, and you do not foster a real or enduring sense of achievement. According to this very intriguing logic, many of our efforts to protect or support our children are, in fact, crippling them.

What’s the alternative though? Chua calls it “grit parenting” and it involves instilling an ethic of work, of overcoming obstacles, of discipline. She points out that in many walks of life, not just business or law, even artistic ones, you need to be resilient, you need to work through rejections and setbacks. You can’t always call your mother to fix things. (A partner in a major consulting firm once told me he had a young man’s mother call to renegotiate his salary, which is, I guess, the exact opposite of “grit parenting”.)

No comments: