Just heard a radio review of The Battle Cry of the Tiger Mother, which I confess I haven't read. However, it made me think: what do we want for our kids?
In the face of Amy Chua's ferocious discipline versus the liberal plaint “I just want my kids to be happy,” what actually is a good upbringing? While I certainly didn't want them to be unhappy – and it almost physically hurt me when they were – coming from a stiff upper-lipped British home, I believed happiness is not a goal, but a delicately scented side dish.
When pregnant with our first daughter, I wanted her to have a contented nature like my mother's mother, not the bitter negativity of my father's side. If she drank from a glass half full, that would be a good start, even if, like my Granny, life handed out some knocks. Granny put the kettle on – and muddled through somehow.
I wanted her to be interested, to live with gusto, not sky diving for kicks but fascinated by just being alive. Having been caterpulted into strange and often lonely situations as a naval wife, I wanted her to be able to spin magic out of the bits and bobs of life, whether it be writing like me, drawing like Bill or political comment like my mother.
Above all, to have character. Not to demand goodies from life, but know what is good and right – and do it. To walk upright and be kind. I tried to teach her to fish, not expect an all-you-can-eat buffet. Then happiness will take care of itself.