Amy “Tiger Mother” Chua might want to cover her ears right now because clinical psychologist Wendy Mogel has a message for parents that would likely send Chua into one of those shrieking fits she reserves for her daughters’ subpar piano practices, or a verboten A-minus. Here goes: Your teen may not be a genius-entrepreneur-athlete-altruist-artist. He will probably experiment with drugs, drinking and sex. The small stuff — like rudeness, irresponsibility and utter obliviousness to the effort and money you put into his well-being — will test you daily.
Here's a thought for Passover: We are Pharaohs to our children. We have made them our slaves. Their mud bricks are the books that fill 30-pound backpacks. Their mortar is four hours of homework every night. The straw we deny is sleep. Ask child therapists across the country about the headaches and self-starvation, and the girls who make shallow cuts in their wrists to "let the pressure out, to feel on the outside the pain I feel on the inside." Ask the school counselors about how teenagers use drugs and sex to try to escape. Ask the pediatricians and chiropractors about what those 30-pound loads have done to the children's posture. Ask the college admissions office about their nicknames for incoming students: "crispies," the 18-year-olds too fried from high school to function at college, and "teacups," freshmen too fragile to manage on their own without their parents, tutors and housekeepers.
We are all going crazy. That Tuesday I woke up my 10-year-old by telling her, "Terrorists flew planes into buildings in New York and Washington, D.C., this morning," carried her downstairs half-asleep and sat her in front of the television just in time to watch the north tower fall. Before bedtime I did a little show-and-tell presenting her with an old photo I had downloaded from the Web: Osama bin Laden from the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list complete with height, weight and a $5 million reward. Why did I do this? I don't know.