I Support The Tiger Mother… Kinda

I have to say when  I heard all the fuss about Amy Chua and her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I just had to find out more. How could a memior on parenting possibly garner death threats?

Not only is the fuss of interest to me but as someone who is married to a Tiger(ish) Mother, this book instantly became a must read.

Admittedly I have not quite finished this book but I have to say, it is more hilarious than disturbing but then again, I am a miserable old curmudgeon that sees nothing wrong with making kids accountable for what they do or do not do. I have even been know to make my kids cry on occasion.

In many ways, I have to agree with Chua in that North American society, has become too soft on our kids. We expect to little, make excuses for their failures and let them freeload off of us well into adulthood. The irony here is that North American style parenting, treats children like priceless China and what Chua advocates is parenting as they do in China.

As for whether Chua is right in saying that Chinese parents are better at raising kids, I would have to say definitely maybe. It has been my experience in the 15 years I have been teaching that Asian kids are often very respectful, hard working and outstanding citizens both in and outside of school.  However, I teach GREAT kids from families of all cultural and racial backgrounds. I can only assume that these traits are inlarge because of the way these kids were raised and it isn’t something that is exclusive to the Chinese or Asian community.

What needs to be questioned, is the general publics reaction to Chua and her belief that raising courteous hard working kids is of paramount importance. If society feels that  this is not something a parent should be working towards, then god help us all.

What is concerning about what Chua advocates, is that Asian kids who are products of  this type of parenting style, frequently have unhealthy levels of anxiety relating to school and academic performance. A recent study by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found Asian kids are at greater risk of suicide because of this pressure to perform. This begs the question, how hard is too hard when it comes to pushing your child to do what it is you want them to do both inside and outside of the classroom.

My approach takes more of a hard middle ground but since I talk the talk of a mean old parent, I figure I should to step up go head to head with the Tiger Mother. The following is a brief comparison between Amy Chua parenting and Old School Parenting. I think you will agree that the Old School Parent is far superior to Amy Chua.

Hope you enjoy it

School

  • Chua – There is no excuse for anything but an A no matter what.
  • Old School Parent – Any grade that you have worked hard for is a good grade. If you get a B instead of an A due to laziness… Then there will be hell to pay.

Sleepovers

  • Chua – No way, not a chance, never.
  • Old School Parent – NO! You have a perfectly good bed at home why in hell do you need to go sleep on someone else’s  floor?

Computer TV

  • Chua – No computer or TV.
  • Old School Parent – No computer or TV on school nights, Weekends and holidays, you may watch but not long enough to render yourself brain dead. In addition there will be no Facebook accounts or any other social networking account, before the age of 16.

Music and other Artistic Pursuits

  • Chua – You are going to play what we tell you and be a virtuoso at it.
  • Old School Parent – We will support you in whatever instrument you want to play but once you commit to it you are locked in for a year before you can quit or move onto another. Instruments that are particularly annoying in the hands of a beginner will be strongly discouraged.

Sports / Extra Curricular Activities

  • Chua – Picks extra curricular activities for her children
  • Old School Parenting – Encourages kids to participate in any extra curricular activity they choose, especially sporting activities. Healthy lifestyle begins with a healthy body and sport facilitates this very important element of a happy, healthy life. Sporting skills are life skills and you are a better person for participating.

Name calling and other demeaning language

  • Chua – Once referred to one of her daughters as “garbage” but Chua readily admits that it is something she regrets. Chua calls it like she sees it and that is not necessarily a bad thing
  • Old School Parent – Am very careful about name calling or attacking the person. Behavior however is open for negative criticism and occasion using language that might be construed as not very nice. I am a firm believer in calling a kettle black when it is black and using molly coddling language such as “how do you feel about that” only lends it self to creating a spineless adult.

Rating parenting along racial or cultural lines is undoubtedly a slippery slope but I don’t think this is what this book is really doing. What Chua has done is given the Western world a sobering look at how soft we have become in raising our kids. What is wrong with demanding the best from your kids and pointing out their flaws and failures in black and white? What is wrong with laying down the law and demanding appropriate behavior from our kids? What is wrong with expecting your child to represent their family with dignity and respect? To think otherwise is just simply garbage.

There is a right way and a wrong way to raise our kids and good parents can be found in all cultures. What Chua has done is challenge all of us to step up and get back to parenting our children rather than using them as accessories.

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