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I Don’t Care Whether or Not Chinese Parenting is Better

You know what? There has been a bit of backlash against parenting blogs in the past few years and I kind of get it. Now that I have a six-year-old, and my twins are three, I don’t feel the need to read about parenting constantly. I sort of get how to do it at this point and I don’t feel the pressure as much to be perfect. I also don’t feel the need to argue over whose parenting style is better. Is The Chinese Parenting Way better? I don’t care! Not only do I not care but I don’t have a parenting style to argue about even if I wanted to argue about it. Which I don’t. Despite the fact that I do sort of enjoy arguing.

Here’s my parenting non-style (but not my non-parenting style): whatever works. I buy organic chicken at Whole Paycheck but I also buy Goldfish crackers in bulk. I used disposable diapers, formula fed when breast feeding left me feeling like a loser and let my kids watch plenty of TV. I keep a very regular bedtime routine. I don’t insist on a bath every night (and sometimes teeth brushing gets pushed off til morning) but story time is sacred. Maybe that’s my parenting philosophy: read! But I’m not going to have that embroidered onto a pillow anytime soon.

All three of my children are smart, beautiful, okay one of them may be a smidge sociopathic but other than that… normal kids. It’s working out despite not reading a million books on it or poring over parenting websites and articles about every little thing. I don’t believe for a minute that Asian women are superior mothers or that working moms suck or that stay-at-home moms are more blessed or that there is any magic answer to any of our age old parenting problems -except maybe sleep and that magic answer is Benedryl. But you didn’t read that here.

Do my husband and I worry about certain things? Of course we do. I absolutely get anxious about many of our decisions. I visited about fourteen different preschools before I found one I loved -not because it met the criteria I’d written out on a legal sized document but because it felt absolutely right. I still love this preschool and although Elby has moved on to Kindergarten (at a charter school after researching and sweating over my options for months), the twins are happily finger painting there as I type.

I’m certainly not advocating any sort of hands off style either. I was a latch key kid and I don’t glorify the time when beanbags were all the rage and kids fended for themselves. It wasn’t fine. I walked home from school every day by myself or with another latch key kid from the time I was in first grade. In third grade, after school, since I had no supervision, I used to go to a pizza place where the owner -a greasy guy in his mid-fifties – would invite me and my friend to come into the backroom and watch him spin pizza dough. He also enjoyed dry humping us from behind while we made ourselves cones from the soft serve machine. I think he may have done more than that with my friend. Good times. So just because someone else wants to Free Range it with their kids and it becomes the next big thing does not mean that I’m going to hop on that bandwagon. Hell I don’t let my kids play in the front yard unsupervised even though we live on a very low traffic side street. We have an enclosed back yard so why chance some weirdo snatching them up or Sadie wandering into the street when I don’t need to?

I care about things like how many cookies they eat or how much TV they watch but I temper that with being aware of how those factors are actually affecting them and not just base it on the latest scare study. They may love TV but it doesn’t seem to be giving them ADD or making them lose interest in using their imaginations. So, do they sometimes watch a shitload of it in one day? Yeah. And guess what -sometimes they don’t watch TV at all! You don’t know what I’m going to do next! I’m a crazy renegade! My mother only let me watch a half hour of television a day so I was forced to sneak. I ended up watching about ten times more TV plus I’d be stuck trying to figure out how to make the TV cool down so she wouldn’t catch me. I’m not the sweets police either; when Elby’s had a couple of cookies for dessert and she asks if she can have one more, I give it to her! Some may think I’m giving childhood obesity the finger but I’m just crazy like that.

I don’t discipline my children just for sake of having a “stance on discipline.” I let my kids’ personalities dictate which tact to use. Elby rarely ever needs a time out or for me to raise my voice. She’s eager to please, sensitive and easy to redirect. Matilda’s been known to have five time outs in one day. It works for her.

Let me bottom line my position on this: I absolutely love my kids and love parenting them. I also know I’m far from perfect. I had no idea how hard it was going to be and how many things people were going to want me to freak the fuck out over. So after freaking the fuck out at firstand questioning how every single decision could screw them up, I’ve learned what studies, schools of thought and parenting trends are worth my attention and what to just screen out. And in case you’re wondering, the Chinese Parenting article? Didn’t bother to read it.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on January 21, 2011 8:42 pmUncategorized35 comments  

35 Comments

  1. melissa said,

    Best post I have read in weeks. You said it so much better than I ever could have.

    | January 21, 2011 @ 8:48 pm

  2. JenS said,

    As a mother of a 5 year old as well as 3.5 year old twins, let me say- you said what I was thinking but haven’t quite articulated. You are fucking awesome. that is all.

    | January 21, 2011 @ 8:55 pm

  3. Issa said,

    I love this post. It’s just right on.

    I’ve been a parent now for nine years and a month. I’m not perfect, nor would I ever want to try. I’m way too dam lazy for that shit.

    I do want to raise happy, healthy, responsible, self assured members of society.

    | January 21, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

  4. rebecca said,

    I haven’t read that article either. Not worth my time. I know that particular philosophy is for nutbags. But I don’t name call so I guess I should just say it’s not right for ME or my family at all.

    And perfect? You, Stefanie Wilder Taylor, you are perfect for your kids and you are their perfect mother. No other woman could be a better parent for them.

    Same here. I’m the perfect mother for my kids. I may not do what other moms are doing. Some may disagree with what I am doing. But until they have walked a year in my shoes…….they get to keep on having their opinions and I get to keep doing it my way.

    By the way………what you wrote is basically how I feel. Completely.

    Great post. You are an amazing writer!

    When will there be a new book?
    rebecca´s last blog post ..Tough and Mighty

    | January 21, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

  5. Gamanda said,

    Thank you for writing this. It can become overwhelming hearing about all the different parenting styles and techniques. It’s nice to know when you’re not alone with not having a certain style nor following all of the “rules” and studies.
    Gamanda´s last blog post ..Obligatory seasonal post- Pumpkin Patch Edition

    | January 21, 2011 @ 9:58 pm

  6. Melissa said,

    Brilliant. Simply brilliant. And count me among those who haven’t read the article either.
    Melissa´s last blog post ..Inauguration Day

    | January 21, 2011 @ 10:28 pm

  7. Kelly said,

    I think I needed to read this before I wrote my last post. Then again, by the time I finished typing it, I answered myself by saying, Kelly, your kid is 4, and she’s being 4.

    Sometimes reading too much parenting crap makes you crazy.

    | January 21, 2011 @ 10:29 pm

  8. Marinka said,

    I, too, love this post.

    But my goal was never to have a perfect child, no matter the cost.

    And yet, my kids are perfectly perfect.
    Marinka´s last blog post ..Cool

    | January 22, 2011 @ 12:38 am

  9. Robin OBryant said,

    Well I did read it and that woman better be glad she has an Ivy League degree. She’s going to need Lotsa Mulah to pay for all her kids therapy.

    | January 22, 2011 @ 1:50 am

  10. Angie Liskey said,

    Preach it!

    | January 22, 2011 @ 1:57 am

  11. Lindsay said,

    She does it again.
    Thank you Stefanie Wilder Taylor.
    Seriously. After going psycho b/c I over-read and over analyzed I stumbled upon sippy cups, then as a you-just-had-another-baby-so-life-is-gonna-be-crazy-AGAIN gift my husband gave me nap time.
    I still have a psycho moment from time to time, but when it happens we make sure to turn on Sesame Street and eat a cookie and it all gets better.
    Please keep writing…I have 18 more years with these kids.
    Lindsay´s last blog post ..mail lovin

    | January 22, 2011 @ 2:13 am

  12. Jen said,

    I didn’t even know their WAS a new parenting article. Of course, in a day or two my mom will probably email it to me…and then that will be just another email I’ll “just be too busy to delve into, sorry Mom.” Lovin’ this post, as I operate under the same non-parenting style philosophy!

    | January 22, 2011 @ 2:33 am

  13. Tweets that mention I Don’t Care Whether or Not Chinese Parenting is Better | Stefanie Wilder Taylor -- Topsy.com said,

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Issascrazyworld and Robin Wiley O'Bryant, StefanieWilderTaylor. StefanieWilderTaylor said: RT @Issascrazyworld: Great post by @SWilderTaylor http://stefaniewildertaylor.com/2011/01/i-dont-care-whether-or-not-chinese-parenting-i … [...]

    | January 22, 2011 @ 2:54 am

  14. Jennifer said,

    A smidge sociopathic? <3 it! Wait until elementary school!

    | January 22, 2011 @ 5:26 am

  15. alexandra said,

    I have a friend, who i have lately been avoiding, because I feel this from her–this holier than thou sanctimonious vibe whenever she’s talking about her kids. I can’t stand it. Yes, she is an amazing mom who grows her own veggies in a p-patch, cans them herself, makes their own clothes, knits, cooks organic meals daily, and never lets them eat sugar or watch tv. She is forever quoting this study or that–she doesn’t even let her kids have plastic toys.

    But I don’t do any of that stuff. I feel guilty and wonder if I am lazy or incompetent, but then I tell myself, no, I am just being real with my kid. So that she grows up being real with herself. Balanced and happy and not striving for some perfect ideal and inevitably failing. Thanks for capturing this idea….

    | January 22, 2011 @ 6:00 am

  16. Ivy said,

    Amen! Now that I am in Singapore and see Chinese parenting first hand I didn’t feel like I needed to read it either. I’m trying to raise expat kids now…I should write a book on how to parent expat children! I may have stumbled on an idea…patent pending.
    Ivy´s last blog post ..Scolded

    | January 22, 2011 @ 6:17 am

  17. Heather said,

    I live in they bay area and am in a mom’s club and wow I feel like such an outsider sometimes.

    My twins were 27 weekers and we have been very lucky with them that they have really been very healthy (despite the 2 1/2 months in NICU) but they also do things out of order developmentally and always have.

    I had them so early I never even got to go to a birth class. I sure didn’t have time to read any parenting books so everything for me has been sort of intuitive. I think that I am actually grateful for this because I think I put enough pressure on myself without worrying if one extra episode of Wonder Pets is going to harm them for life.
    It is very hard though because this area is just so opinionated with their parenting views. Nice to hear other people that also aren’t perfect.

    | January 22, 2011 @ 6:20 am

  18. Jane said,

    I’m coming over for goldfish, but I won’t be letting my kid have any. Not til he can say goldfish please, and then we’ll see.

    I like your sassy attitude lady. I”m going to stop reading altogether and try the gut method. It seems mo better. And when I see how you are with your kids, which is really loving and easy, I think you’ve actually got it figured out.
    Jane´s last blog post ..Christmas Vacation

    | January 22, 2011 @ 9:05 am

  19. Jae said,

    Absolutely right on. :)
    Jae´s last blog post ..New Years Resolutions I think Not!

    | January 22, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

  20. TheNextMartha said,

    I agree with almost all of it. I mean if I’m making cookies, I’m also hiding them. For myself. Great post.

    | January 23, 2011 @ 1:25 am

  21. Kate said,

    Exactly. Quite frankly, I don’t know where people find the time or the energy to be this angry about differing parenting philosophies.

    My parents were married young and they certainly didn’t know the answers to everything. So they parented from their guts and learned from the females in their family, and made mistakes. And I feel like I had the best childhood ever.

    We need to stop judging each other and start talking like civilized people.

    | January 23, 2011 @ 5:00 am

  22. Dana said,

    AMEN!
    I didn’t read the Chinese Parenting story either and I couldn’t for the life of me understand why everyone got so worked up about it.
    I do what I do to get through the day.
    Oh, and read.

    | January 23, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

  23. Melissa S. said,

    De-lurking to say “yahoo” and “go girl!” I love this post! You have summed up my parenting style too, although I did read the chinese parenting story, and have talked about it with friends and family… My 4 year old daughter is well adjusted, and loves tv and sweets just as much as her mama. Plan to corrupt my 9 week old daughter in just the same way!! We seem to be doing alright!!
    Thanks for saying it better than I could have ever done!

    | January 23, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

  24. Lisa H. said,

    Sing on, sista. That’s how we roll over here.

    | January 24, 2011 @ 1:07 am

  25. StephanieinSuburbia said,

    Amen!

    Also? My daughter is a “smidge sociopathic” as you put it so well (just well enough to keep Children’s Services from visiting me). When I went to daycare they told me they think my daughter is the funniest infant in the infant room because “she is always laughing when the other kids cry.”

    Awesome. I look forward to the “oh she does great in Home Ec! I never thought to put the kitty in the microwave, saves the house from getting hot in the summer with that bothersome oven. And lighting bugs on fire with just a magnifying glass? Genius!”
    StephanieinSuburbia´s last blog post ..Its a Bird! Its a Plane! Its SuperCooks!

    | January 24, 2011 @ 3:21 am

  26. Amanda said,

    I’m not sure where this notion that we all need to parent like one another or else one of us must be in the wrong came from. It must stem from our own insecurities. We preach about diversity and acceptance to our kids, yet we don’t allow each other to parent in differing ways.

    Just today, I wrote a blog post about epidurals and I had to put a big caveat in the beginning about how I think people that don’t go the epidural route and great, you know, so they don’t hate me.

    Love your post.
    Amanda´s last blog post ..All Hail the Epidural

    | January 24, 2011 @ 6:56 am

  27. lauren said,

    The worst thing I eer did as amom was start reading blogs, articles and other moms opinions..it kind of ruined me in a way.

    THANK YOU….maybe I should stop reading that stuff..

    | January 24, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

  28. Tracy said,

    LOVE this post. I am FINALLY at the point where I (mostly) don’t care what other people think I should do in regard to MY kids. Love it, love it, love it.

    | January 24, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

  29. yasmine said,

    What a great post!! Good for you, girl.

    What is the answer? The answer is that there is no answer. You have to do what works best for you and your family and you know what? It will never be “perfect” but at least you are providing them with a REAL life full of care and love and support. That’s all any child ever needs.

    | January 24, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

  30. Melody said,

    All I’ve heard for the past week or so is about “Tiger Mom”. I started questioning every decision I’ve ever made for my 8 year old daughter especially since she has recently been displaying out of control anxiety and mood swings. As a result, I am suffering from out of control anxiety and mood swings. Your post snapped me out of it and I remembered something my mother said to me when I was in my teens: “You may not think I’m the best mother, but I’m doing the best I can” Thank you Stefanie! (and thank you,Mom)

    | January 25, 2011 @ 2:37 am

  31. Melissa said,

    awesome post!

    | January 25, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

  32. Kat said,

    Love it! My twins are now 17 and on pins and needles waiting for college acceptance from ANYwhere and don’t blink more than twice or you’ll miss a few milestones. In keeping with the two theme, here’s my two cents (not that you asked for them, but hey, I’m older and have been there, done more than I’ll admit to):

    1. We don’t watch tv. Lofty and judgmental? Think again: since the kids didn’t see all the freakin ads, we had zero wardrobe issues (if you have girls, this is HUGE if you want to avoid tween-trampieness) and minimal “I must have…(fill in the current toy craze)”.

    2. Consider getting a small plastic pool…yes supervision is required at all times, but it can be from a sitting position (also while tanning if you’re into a bronzed goddess look). And the tire-them-out factor is at double time in the water. AND, only bring it out on said special (aka school slacker) days.

    | January 25, 2011 @ 4:06 pm

  33. Brianne Drlich said,

    This was great! Refreshing even.

    | January 26, 2011 @ 12:47 am

  34. Diane said,

    I love this post. It is all so true. I would rather have my kids play and be happy and well adjusted during their childhood. This is the one time they get to be kids and not have responsibility. They have their whole lives to work (after school). Something good does come out of doing sloppy arts and crafts, playing barbie and legos on the floor and having tons of playdates. Love your blog!
    Mom of three in Philly, 4yo, 6yo and 8yo. who is trying to quit the wine.

    | January 29, 2011 @ 11:12 am

  35. Korinthia Klein said,

    This is possibly the first thing I’ve ever read that sounds like how I parent.

    Nice to not feel alone!
    Korinthia Klein´s last blog post ..SNOW!

    | February 6, 2011 @ 10:22 pm

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