Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tiger Momster - OCPD? Narcissist? Or Just Plain Garbage?

I adore tigers, and some of my favorite people in the world are Asian.

So I would have liked to like Amy Chua, author of a much ballyhooed book about being a Tiger Mother.  But I'm not even going to put the full title in this post.

You see, I don't want you to buy her book, as I find her an abusive momster hiding behind "traditional Chinese culture," in order to further exploit her children, (Born in the US, with wealthy parents of Chinese descent who were themselves raised in the Philippines, she's had about as much "traditional Chinese experience" as a Pekingese lap dog.)  From what I've been reading, quite a few Chinese mothers and fathers are blasting her for misrepresenting their heritage and for claiming that verbal and emotional abuse of children is either traditional, or desirable. 

According to this woman, either children are raised in an "Eastern manner" with strict, strict standards, not allowed to make their own choices about anything, not permitted to bring home less than A's, or, in fact, be less than the #1 student in any subject.  And being called "garbage" isn't an assault on their self-esteem.  Or, the children are raised in a "Western manner" where they are basically given free rein to do as they choose and become fat little couch potatoes with parents treating them as godlings.  This black and white splitting is typical of a Personality Disorder.

No comprehension that raising kids isn't a black-and-white issue.  That every child is different.  That one's children are not an extension of oneself.

My only dilemma is whether she's a Narcissist, or OCPD.  She certainly thinks an awful lot of herself, and isn't afraid to promote herself, expecting applause and praise (and scarily, she's actually getting some.)  She seems to be taken aback that many other people are not throwing roses in her path.  I've read several articles quoting her now, and she appears extremely self-centered, which is typical of Narcissism.  Though she has, apparently, begun backtracking, now claiming her book is a memoir, not an advice book for parenting, and that her way isn't for everybody.

However, like many OCPD parents, she doesn't seem to "get" that perfection and excellence are two different things.  (Did Mozart's parents have to make him practice three to six hours a day?)  Demanding that one's children be "perfect" or meet unrealistically high standards, is typical of OCPD.

from an article written by this momster in the Wall Street Journal   - in her own words:
Here's a story in favor of coercion, Chinese-style.
Lulu was about 7, still playing two instruments, and working on a piano piece called "The Little White Donkey" by the French composer Jacques Ibert. The piece is really cute—you can just imagine a little donkey ambling along a country road with its master—but it's also incredibly difficult for young players because the two hands have to keep schizophrenically different rhythms.

Lulu couldn't do it. We worked on it nonstop for a week, drilling each of her hands separately, over and over. But whenever we tried putting the hands together, one always morphed into the other, and everything fell apart. Finally, the day before her lesson, Lulu announced in exasperation that she was giving up and stomped off.

"Get back to the piano now," I ordered.

"You can't make me."

"Oh yes, I can."

Back at the piano, Lulu made me pay. She punched, thrashed and kicked. She grabbed the music score and tore it to shreds. I taped the score back together and encased it in a plastic shield so that it could never be destroyed again. Then I hauled Lulu's dollhouse to the car and told her I'd donate it to the Salvation Army piece by piece if she didn't have "The Little White Donkey" perfect by the next day.

When Lulu said, "I thought you were going to the Salvation Army, why are you still here?" I threatened her with no lunch, no dinner, no Christmas or Hanukkah presents, no birthday parties for two, three, four years. When she still kept playing it wrong, I told her she was purposely working herself into a frenzy because she was secretly afraid she couldn't do it. I told her to stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic.

Jed took me aside. He told me to stop insulting Lulu—which I wasn't even doing, I was just motivating her—and that he didn't think threatening Lulu was helpful. Also, he said, maybe Lulu really just couldn't do the technique—perhaps she didn't have the coordination yet—had I considered that possibility?

"You just don't believe in her," I accused.

"That's ridiculous," Jed said scornfully. "Of course I do."

"Sophia could play the piece when she was this age."

"But Lulu and Sophia are different people," Jed pointed out.

"Oh no, not this," I said, rolling my eyes. "Everyone is special in their special own way," I mimicked sarcastically. "Even losers are special in their own special way. Well don't worry, you don't have to lift a finger. I'm willing to put in as long as it takes, and I'm happy to be the one hated. And you can be the one they adore because you make them pancakes and take them to Yankees games."

I rolled up my sleeves and went back to Lulu. I used every weapon and tactic I could think of. We worked right through dinner into the night, and I wouldn't let Lulu get up, not for water, not even to go to the bathroom. The house became a war zone, and I lost my voice yelling, but still there seemed to be only negative progress, and even I began to have doubts.

Then, out of the blue, Lulu did it. Her hands suddenly came together—her right and left hands each doing their own imperturbable thing—just like that.

Lulu realized it the same time I did. I held my breath. She tried it tentatively again. Then she played it more confidently and faster, and still the rhythm held. A moment later, she was beaming.

"Mommy, look—it's easy!" After that, she wanted to play the piece over and over and wouldn't leave the piano. That night, she came to sleep in my bed, and we snuggled and hugged, cracking each other up. When she performed "The Little White Donkey" at a recital a few weeks later, parents came up to me and said, "What a perfect piece for Lulu—it's so spunky and so her."
Yep, makes me want to run right out and coerce some poor young child, because they will be so happy and grateful and snuggly when the abuse stops.  This how pedophile kidnappers brainwash their victims, hello?!

Lulu apparently does have great spunk and resilience despite years of emotional abuse, despite being shut out of the house in the cold when she was three years old to coerce her to play, and at thirteen quit playing an instrument.  The momster, on the other hand... Well, if anyone wants deeper insights on "cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic," I know who to call.

Since Ms. Chua suggests "the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child," I suggest we take every opportunity to excoriate the substandard "memoir" she has produced, and hold her to shame for even thinking such an inferior work is worthy of publication.  (Not insulting, just motivating her, right?)

Either that, or perhaps a New Haven plainclothes officer will obtain a copy of a book signed by her and arrest her on the basis of her signed confession of child abuse.

Quite often, emotional and verbal abuse crosses over into physical violence (not that verbal abuse isn't bad enough.)  Here's just a few examples of children being "motivated" by their parents to get better grades.

In California, a father beats his daughter with a wooden dowel because of a drop in grades.
In Florida, a father beats a seven-year old with a belt for bad grades.
In West Virginia, a mother beats her daughter with a belt for getting a B.
How about a parent who makes their child kill their pet hamster with a hammer for bad grades?

(One of the parents above appears to be Asian, the others, not.  So a control-freak parent having a meltdown over children achieving less than perfect grades would not appear to be a purely "Eastern" child-rearing ideology, after all.)

Abuse is Abuse.  Doesn't matter whether you claim "that's our Chinese culture" (what a load of BS!) or "But in Africa, we always mutilate our girl children with a broken beer bottle" or other excuses.  Decent human beings treat one another - even our children, even the mentally ill, even the disabled - with dignity, kindness and respect.  We don't abuse others over whom we have power, just because we can get away with it.

Unless we have a Personality Disorder.  Or are, truly, garbage. 

Your thoughts?