There is a golden rule that all new parents quickly learn: never give parenting advice unless asked. It is no wonder that Amy Chua’s unnerving book full of raw honesty, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, about her extreme Chinese parenting style has fueled a worldwide controversy and she has received everything from praise to death threats. The Wall Street Journal published an excerpt from her book under the headlines, “Why Chinese Mother’s Are Superior,” which generated more e-mail responses than any other article in the paper’s history. However, behind the sensational headlines and sound bites of Chua’s book about the clash of two cultures, the debate raises the question whether we in the west have become too soft and easy on our kids.
Chua, the daughter of immigrant Chinese parents, a Yale graduate and law professor, describes a “Tiger Mother” as one that does not allow her children to attend sleepovers, have play dates, watch TV, play computer games, choose their own extracurricular activities, get any grade less than an A and play any instrument other than the piano or violin. The book reinforces the pushy Asian parenting stereotypes, which encourage strong work ethics and iron wills in stark contrast to American parenting, where children are believed to learn best when they are having fun and discovering their inner creativity and self-identity.
Out of context, most “American” parents may see Chua’s parenting methods as downright mean, abusive and dictatorial. However, when placed in the context of Asian culture, Chua’s parenting is not all that strange and more a reflection of traditions that enforce discipline and delay gratification. These traditions go a long way back in antiquity in both the Chinese and Indian cultures, where young adults are expected to focus on their learning and studies, without the distractions and freedoms available to American teens.
What Planet Are They From?
All parents want the best for their children, so why this vast difference in the two parenting cultures? As a Vedic Astrologer (and an Indian American mom) I have learned that just as people have certain planets that express themselves with strength based on their horoscope and past-life experiences, cultures and countries also have planets that dominate their collective lives at different points in their history. The optimistic and expansive nature of Jupiter’s energy appeals to the loving American parent, as it seeks solutions through inspiration, faith, hope and a license to dream big and feel positive about the future. Saturn’s stern energy is embraced by loving Asian parents, as it is driven by a sense of harsher realism, the need to overcome limitations, hard work, perseverance and practical efforts. Like Jupiter, the American parent is inspired by the one-in-a-million success story, in which someone followed his dreams and became successful, whereas Asian parents, like Saturn, are fixated on the 99% of those who didn’t make it.
In the Hindu scriptures, the Rig Veda says,“the Rishis having meditated in their hearts, discovered by their wisdom the connection of the existent with the non-existent.” As such, Jupiter represents our link to the spirit world and the intelligence that comes forth from our soul’s nature. Saturn is earthbound and binds us to the limitations that come with our existence on the physical plane. He represents our survival instincts and the endurance we will need to deal with the great challenges of life. Jupiter has all the inspiration, but none of the stamina of Saturn to materialize the dreams. Jupiter is filled with faith and optimism, whereas Saturn represents the deliberate practice that turns wishes into reality.
It does not matter whether our goals are spiritual or material, successful people in all walks of life will naturally have a balanced dose of Jupiter and Saturn energy. As such, a true Yogi has to have the intense diligence and servile attitude of Saturn, as well as Jupiter’s inspiration and confidence.
When Jupiter energy is not balanced with that of Saturn, it can become directionless and get caught up in hopes, wishes, dreams and fantasy. Therefore, Jupiter’s unbounded optimism is best tempered with the influence of the more stern planets like the Sun or Saturn. On the other hand, Saturn energy without help from Jupiter can render one so disconnected with the heart that life becomes dry, bitter and a burden to endure.
As a Vedic Astrologer, I get to see firsthand my client’s carefree and footloose Jupiterian lives coming to a screeching halt when a Saturn period or transit occurs in the birth chart. On the other hand, I also see those with too rigid and pragmatic Saturnian lives stifling a revolution inside, which spills over in crises and loss. Culture will override planets and while almost every culture tends to be comfortable with the growth and expansion that Jupiter offers, Saturn’s contraction and realism seems to be felt more painfully in the west than in the east. Therefore, let us not be too quick to judge or dismiss “Tiger Mothers” as totally irrelevant to our lives.
Long after our children are grown, we still have to parent ourselves, so we should also take a moment to pause and see if we are opting out too early… or surrendering too late.
Here, Alison Stewart of PBS interviews the author, Amy Chua:
Renu Namjoshi is a Vedic Astrologer offering a unique counseling service based on years of deep study and practice of all aspects of life, as revealed in the system of Vedic Sciences including: Vedic Astrology, Ayurveda, Yoga, Meditation and Mantra practice. Her no nonsense, practical approach to life, combined with spiritual insight gives her the ability to reach and guide people from all walks of life. Renu accepts the responsibility of holding this ancient knowledge and wisdom with great humility and strives to be of genuine service to each and every one of her clients. She can be reached at www.astrocounsel.us.