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Was Your Manager Coddled?

Posted January 20, 2011 8:30 AM by Steve Melito

When Amy Chua's daughter took second-place in a school math competition, the Yale professor wasn't satisfied. In fact, she was outraged. Chua, the author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, made her child complete 2,000 math problems a night. Later, after her daughter finished first in a math competition, Chua still denied her access to television or video games. The girl wasn't allowed to participate in play dates or sleepovers, either.

Amy Chua's parenting style may seem authoritarian, but New York Times columnist David Brooks calls the Yalie a "wimp" who's really "coddling her children". Why? According to Brooks, social activities such as sleepovers help children to develop skills such as "managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, (and) navigating the distinction between self and group".

David Brooks isn't an engineer, of course, but aren't these some of the same skills that a good engineering manager needs? Sure, there's the important matter of technical and professional competency. But does finishing first academically – to be the student who masters 2,000 math problems a night – grow a great manager or even a great executive?

There's a bigger picture to consider, too. With all the talk about "national decline" these days, can worriers console themselves by placing their faith in society's group dynamics? As MIT researchers attest and David Brooks explains, "groups have a high collective intelligence when members of a group are good at reading each others' emotions".

Source: New York Times

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#1

Re: Was Your Manager Coddled?

01/21/2011 3:21 AM

I would call that child abuse. 2000 math problems a night is gross overkill (not even credible unless they are subhumanly trivial). Can anyone say "Lizzie Borden redux"?

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#12
In reply to #1

Re: Was Your Manager Coddled?

01/27/2011 11:29 AM

Hi Tornado,

I am not supporting Amy at all. However, we have to recognize that someone care about her child education and its future hurts many parents ego because they are not caring enough or at all of their children.

Amy, for many, probably pushes too far but what's far for a child? Some children accept complicated explanations, some others not. Also, we have to understand Amy. She missed her carrier or education, and wants to transfer to her child. Look around and you discover that many children are abandoned, not educated, and become bad for the society.

So, conclusion, I don't reject Amy's attention to push for better or worse or worst but we can learn that parents need to care of their children, Gil.

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#2

Re: Was Your Manager Coddled?

01/21/2011 7:56 AM

I think we have all had managers that were very smart, but couldn't manage their way out of a paper bag. I have seen several competent engineers promoted to management positions over the years only to ask to be moved back to a strictly engineering position because they could not deal with the personnel and other issues. They had no social skills and upper management should have seen this.

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#3

Re: Was Your Manager Coddled?

01/21/2011 9:28 AM

One of the big problems these days is that children are being pushed to be more grown up, the parents forget that childhood is a precious time where youngsters gain valuable lessons, and these children who bypassed their childhood are not very good at accessing difficult situations when they arrise?

They also lack empathy, which is very important, and they show no respect whatever when it is needed !

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Anonymous Poster
#13
In reply to #3

Re: Was Your Manager Coddled?

01/27/2011 11:49 AM

Hi Sax,

I have questions: What's the limite for a child in education? When is the right time to start educate a child? Who must do the teaching? Etc...

In my case, during WWII, at age of 2 and 5 learned to read, count, and write with my mother, most of the time in the bunker. I really don't remember she was pushing me or not but I well remember when I was in the first class after the war, I was with ignorant children, and within 2 months I was transferred to the second class.

No! I'm not a genious! I am an ordinary person like many at my age.

I did teach how to read to my first daughter. She is the smartest of the four because I don't have the time to do the same with the three other children. I really regret it! When someone care about someone else, the someone has attention, attention develop concentration and focus, etc... and is important in life development. So, I support Amy's technic and persistance, not necessarily to the point she pushes. It important to care what we created and put in better situations as we were. This will be a better future for our youngs, Gil.

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#4

Re: Was Your Manager Coddled?

01/21/2011 11:53 AM

I find it intersting how everywhere you hear about how far behind the US is falling in Math and Sciences, yet this guy is commenting on how abusive it is to force your child to focus on math studies instead of spending more time developing "social skills". I don't know that I have ever heard of the US falling behind in socializing. Additionally, I am not so confident that watching Real Wives of Orange County, one of the Kardashians, Hefner's ex-girlfriends, or such, is of equivalent value as developing math skills (except maybe to see that singing and dancing even bad singing or dancing is worth more financial return than math or science under current societal trends, or even more valuable is just being stupid and on TV like that new jersey thing). I am not sure that TV offers the kind of real feedback needed to develop good working management skills to manage technically astute people.

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#5

Re: Was Your Manager Coddled?

01/21/2011 2:31 PM

Part of the issue is the criteria used to promote people to management. The traditional way is to look for the best engineer, pilot, salesperson,... and then comes the fatal assumption. "Since they are good at X, they'll be a good manager of others who do X." As we all know there's a gap between doing and managing those that "do".

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#6
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Re: Was Your Manager Coddled?

01/21/2011 8:04 PM

Yet if they are bad at X and promoted to management they are still bad at X but now in charge of lots of people who work with X and now in a position where they as managers are expected to understand what it is those workers do when working with X so as to be able to make wise decisions about that work as well.

Stupid is as stupid does and putting stupid in charge of competence is stupid doing what it does best.

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#8
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Re: Was Your Manager Coddled?

01/23/2011 11:35 AM

Exactly. It just seems to me that it's a self-fulfilling prophesy. I've seen many good people over the years, who had high technical proficiency, get promoted and fail as managers. Often they end up leaving the organization.

The net result was losing a very talented engineer. I'm not convinced that in all cases the organization did everything they should have reasonably done to fill in the gaps between being technically proficient and having strong leadership skills. There has to be a balance.

I think that the organization, if they promote solely based on technical profiency, then has an obligation to somehow fill those gaps (training, mentoring,...).

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#7

Re: Was Your Manager Coddled?

01/21/2011 8:50 PM

Just yesterday, I read John Rosemond's column on parenting. He is a champion for common sense parenting that I believe many in this forum would agree with.

Here is his column on the "Tiger Mother"

http://www.rosemond.com/Weekly-Column---92109.html

Although my children are older (15 to 21 yrs), I still enjoy reading his weekly column in the paper and it's nice to see there is a public figure who would have agreed with how we raised our children. (According to all the psycho-babble "experts" on child development, my wife and I were horrible parents.)

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#9
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Re: Was Your Manager Coddled?

01/23/2011 5:27 PM

NIce Link. Thanks for sharing.

We homeschooled.

Our oldest was 10 before she found out that there were cartoons on TV.

It was on her very first sleepover.

We were called cruel and strange for the way we kept our kids from doing "normal" things.

Our oldest got a full ride to earn her masters because of her academic and professional performance as an undergrad. Middle child graduated from West Point. Youngest is still in college.

No regrets here for not putting"group hugs" ahead of "personal competence."

They are not zombies either- their emotional intelligence is superior to mine (not saying much probably)- but they were socialized in high value environments usually with adults: working at non profits as volunteers, leading roles in plays, etc.) Stick with your values, Brave Sir Robin. It will turn out just fine.

My 2 cents.

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Anonymous Poster
#11
In reply to #7

Re: Was Your Manager Coddled?

01/24/2011 11:12 AM

Hi Robin,

We have to understand Amy Chua. She is Chinese, frustrated by us, and want to get in front but for her is better to send her child. Most Chinese want to get in front because during the last 500 years they did nothing to humanity. We did by inventing everything. They see it and it's frustrating for them!

I was there and lived with them. I beat in PING PONG, table tennis the local champion. You need to know that China dominate ping pong but they don't know at that time that I was born in Hungary. It was a disaster for them and put money on the table for revenge.

Also, they are dreaming more than we do and sometimes they take dreams for realities. They want everything right now, which is the hardest objective for them! They are good people, working hard to succeed but they want to be the first everywhere. They want to get back the lost time between them and us.

We should see them to take the train, subway or other transportation. They push and fight to get on the first.

We are parents and we do things well and other times not very well. Let Amy to do what she does best and see the result in 5, 10, or more years later, Gil.

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#14
In reply to #7

Re: Was Your Manager Coddled?

01/27/2011 12:08 PM

Hi Robin,

I read twice the answers, and can conclude that a child's comportment and attitude develops around the child. The parents and the close environment influence their children with their style of life. Certain parents are absent. Some other are to close and direct every time, every action. Others are smooth or let them do the way they want. All these and other moments influence children and develop certain good and/or bad attitude, sometimes they are revolted against their parents and people.

You mentioned that you and your wife were horrible parents. You can analyze what directs a child in one direction or another. Forget the doctor. They use suggestions that don't fit to your case and suggest some pills to "cure attitude" with medications. You must sit down with yourself first and with your wife and analyze what's happening and what's the real solution to problems. I understand, it's hard to be responsible (we are the creators) and solve the problem without others' help but needs to be done, Gil.

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Anonymous Poster
#10

Re: Was Your Manager Coddled?

01/24/2011 10:51 AM

Hi Moose,

She can be a good mathematician but absolutely not a good manager or executive. However, she can discover that she is better to be a manager and she will forget the math. It's hard to answer and being right without knowing intimately the person we are talking.

I prefer Amy Chua's attitude towards her child or children than most parents do: Let the school or someone else take care about them. At the end the failure is on someone else, not on the parents of the failed child. It's hard for us to understand but it can be good for many youngs. Just open your eyes!

If you have the quality, time, and support, do it and see the results! Ah, this is the hard things to do? Just do it!

Again, criticize and not doing is the way we want to talk, Gil.

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