Monday, January 10, 2011

Managing Your Legacy

Two articles I read from this weekend's newspapers, dealt in one way or another, with the desire to manage your legacy; to take ownership of what you create and leave behind in this world.

The first, called Why Chinese Mothers are Superior in the Wall Street Journal, contrasted two styles of parenting - what the author called Chinese mothering vs Western parenting.  Her thesis is that by making all decisions for their kids and strictly enforcing behaviors that make their kids the top students in their classes, Chinese parents raise offspring who are "stereotypically successful."  She concludes that this is done to "protect their children...  preparing them for the future, letting them see what they're capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away."  But I would argue that having parents define what "success" is (straight As, success at music or violin, but not excelling at sports, high school plays, or pursuing other interests) is really just a way of turning out "mini-me's" -- and is in no way preparing kids for a happy or fulfilled life.  The author describes her role as a parent as "making sacrifices" for her kids, but it seems as though she is more interested in making sure that her daughters reflect well on her - providing her with status and a legacy of success -  rather than doing what I see as the role of parenting, that is, nurturing children and then setting them free in the world to find their own way,

The second, Cyberspace When You’re Dead in the New York Times, was all about how to plan for the continuance (or not) of your online self when you're dead and no longer posting.  There are issues of who gets the last word, of course, but of even greater concern is what gets saved and what disappears into cyberspace.

Both cases seem to revolve around issues of planning and control.  How much do you want to direct what might happen in the future?  How much are you prepared to let go?

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