Apropos the ongoing heated debate concerning alternative methods of parenting epitomized, inter alia, by the recent bout between Amy Chua’s “Tiger mom” and the proverbial “Jewish mother” prototype, a critical indispensable factor is totally left out of the equation – namely, the father. Admittedly, in recent years women have assumed an increasing role in childrearing and nurturing. However, it is by all means not to the exclusion of the man in the family. Sadly, from the present reportage on the subject the picture that emerges is that of a devoted mother functioning single-handedly as if in a context of a single parent family. If indeed this proves to be the situation, then we have a considerably more serious worry on our hands than who ultimately deserves the title of “Mother Superior” in this contest.
Furthermore, concerning the array of methods and the respective ultimate goals of “successful” parenting and education, we need to be cognizant of the fact that there is much more than meets the eye that in fact transpires outside the requisite class and home-work and the excessive variety of newly contrived “structured activities” and regimented private lessons.
In this context, I am reminded of the time when I was taken to task by a respected principal of our children’s modern Orthodox day school for periodically taking our children out of school. When I eventually informed him that those “excessive absences” facilitated that our children were able to benefit from our family vacations in France, England, Mexico, and Israel or the periodic skiing trips to Colorado and Vermont, he was astounded. He asked, incredulous, “How could you, as an educator, be so irresponsible and disrupt your children’s education?” I responded that as a caring parent I also strongly believe that a school ought not to interfere with our children’s education.