Second-Rate Sharing

So by now you've probably heard the uproar about the controversial book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. It's been talked about everywhere (here are two examples, at Momversation and The New Yorker). Basically, in a nutshell, it talks about how Chinese mothers raise more disciplined children than Western mothers because they're much more strict. I mean ... there's a lot more to it, but I haven't read the book myself, so I don't exactly feel qualified to give y'all a complete review or anything.

But anyway. I digress.

I may not be able to give you a review of Amy Chua's book, but I like to think I know a little bit about Chinese mothers. True, the extent of my Chinese upbringing was eating almond chicken and egg drop soup at a little place called Hunan's. But I have read almost everything ever written by the wonderful author Amy Tan - one of my favorites (and I'm a total book whore, so that's saying a lot) - whose primary topic is Chinese mothers and their relationships to their children. I've always been fascinated by the differences in their households ... and there are lots. However, it isn't the strictness that has always stuck out to me. Nope. It's something completely different.

There's a scene in one of Amy Tan's books, The Joy Luck Club , in which there are a few Chinese families eating crabs together. And when the mother picks out the crabs for her family, she chooses the best for her kids before choosing a less-desirable crab for herself.

Um, what?

I don't know about y'all, but when I'm sharing any type of food with my kids, I get all stingy and keep the best for myself. I mean ... they don't know any better, right? At least not at this point. I didn't even think about this too much until the other day when I was on Facebook, and my friend Kate mentioned that she was eating blueberries. She said she was doling out the smaller, more sour ones to her kids and keeping the nice big fatties for herself. And I was all, "I totally do that!"

With me, it's not just confined to blueberries. No matter what I'm eating, if I'm sharing it with my kids? You can bet they're getting the second-rate stuff. That extra-cheesy piece of lasagna? It's going on my plate - they only eat the noodles anyway. That morsel of chicken with the weird little dark streak running through it? Here, baby, do you want this bite? They'd never notice it, whereas I would be kinda creeped out by eating it. So you'd better believe that if I were picking out a crab, the hierarchy would be different: the best one for me, and then maybe the next-best for them.

The way I see it, they're lucky I'm sharing anyway. Because I'm serious about my food, y'all. Maybe that's not the most motherly way to be, but I can't help it. I did give Cameron a gorgeous, perfect pickle yesterday even though I wanted to eat it myself ... baby steps, right?

What about you? Do you share your food with your kids - and when you do, do you give them the best or save it for yourself? 


  1. I come from a family with 7 kids, and growing up, my parents always made sure that we had enough to eat and that it was 'the good stuff'. If we wanted to eat most of the food on the table, they had some and then would eat a sandwich or whatever so us kids could and be full and satisfied. I guess that rubbed off on me, because I make sure my kids have the best to eat and I end up eating whatever is left or a bowl of cereal, whatever. As a parent, I think you should put your kids first, regardless of their age.

  2. I have a mixed approach to sharing food. For example if it's stuff that they won't notice or I know they won't appreciate like the extra cheesy lasagna or the piece of cake that is from the middle hence more moist, I'll eat that 'cause they just eat the icing anyway. But if it's something that I know will make them like the food more and therefore eat more ie: more tender piece of meat or sweeter piece of fruit etc. then I'll suffer and give them the quality, because I don't want them growing up thinking they don't like something that they actually might if they got the "quality" piece!

  3. OMGosh!! I think...I think I do this too. Those juiciest strawberries...into my bowl. The crusty end of the bread...mine. I've never thought about selfish am I?!?!?!

  4. While I was reading this, I was thinking, "Where did she learn that?! I never did that!" Then I remembered the time your Aunt Judy and I sent you kids to play in the basement with a bag of marshmallow for a snack while we ate a WHOLE cherry pie by ourselves! LOL GUILTY!

  5. I taught my kid to cook when he was 9. Im not wasting my culinary expertise on some snotty nosed grade schooler.

    jkbtw LiBBy

  6. hey a shout out! Obviously I do pick the best stuff for myself on occasion (since I inspired the post), but a lot of the time I give them all the best too. I don't think i ever got ANY blueberries or strawberries for like the first three years of my kids lives because they would eat them so fast and I could never deny them what they wanted. Now I've learned to leap on any opportunity to get myself some of the good stuff before it's gone. Although, just today they all ate the muffins my husband bought for me yesterday. I only got 1/4 of a muffin for myself!

    I think it's a good lesson - always giving your kids the best of everything may be selfless and whatnot - but leaving them with the slim pickings prepares them for the dog eat dog world out there where everyone is out for themselves and no one is going to sacrifice for their happiness. Or at least, that's how I justify it to myself.

  7. With how much I share with my son I should be thinner. I would have to say that it depends on the situation. Sometimes I am more giving/selfish than others.

  8. Ummmm, sheesh! These people all make me feel like a total BUTT! 'Cause I'm totally with you. I'm clearly too selfish. I keep the best pieces, stuff for myself. Like you said...THEY don't notice. As long as they're fed and taken care of......anyway.


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