Friday, November 4, 2011

I was interviewed recently by Christine McFadden at, about my thoughts on Tiger Parenting. The article took looked at the scrutinized parenting style from a new perspective: from that of the Tiger Cubs.

In response to Christine’s questions, I helped her differentiate between Tiger Moms, American Tiger Moms, and Helicopter Moms. While each of these parents sincerely has their child’s best interest in mind, I was quick to point out that often parents’ actions do more harm than good. We hear these terms thrown around, yet surprisingly many people don’t actually know what they mean. So, what is the difference between a Tiger Mom and a Helicopter Mom; and why is being an American Tiger Mom better? I am happy to explain.

The most widely used example of a Tiger Mom is a woman by the name of Amy Chua. She, along with other Tiger Moms, boast that their children are deprived of having any sort of social life. They must master either piano or violin, but if they are interested in learning any other instrument, they are strictly forbidden. They are also not allowed to play with other children, explore the arts, attend parties, or any other form of “normal” American social interactions. While this style of parenting may have been the norm in the past in Eastern societies, it is widely viewed as cruel and unusual in today’s societies.

The Helicopter Mom… well, she hovers. She is always two steps ahead of her child to prevent them from failing in any sort of manner. She fights their battles, argues with their teachers, does their homework, and essentially coddles them so to avoid any discomfort. She thinks she is being a good mother by ensuring their happiness, when in reality she is doing them a great disservice. How on earth are these children supposed to make it on their own as adults when their mothers did everything for them? These are the type of kids that end up living with mom and dad well into their thirties; and to be honest, the Helicopter Mom couldn’t be happier about that.

The American Tiger Mom is different. I proudly place myself in this category, and with good reason. Unlike the Tiger Mom, I allowed my children to have social interactions and to pursue their passions. They were allowed to play any instrument and they deeply loved theatre and dance. They were encouraged to do the things they found interesting, with the understanding that they would do each and everything to the best of their ability. They would give each project and interest one hundred percent of their time and effort. They were not allowed to drop something if they became bored, but knew they must stick it through till the end. Unlike the Tiger Mom, I never saw the need to call my children degrading names in order to get them to succeed; and rather than denying them socialization, we were the party house. By throwing all of the parties, we got to supervise the girls in a safe and healthy environment.

I am confident that my parenting style contributed to both their happiness and success. They are both well-rounded, well-educated and happy adults who are able to move around in the world without their parents hovering over them, or insulting them.

I understand that long ago, Tiger parenting was the norm in Eastern countries like China and Japan. Today, those countries are utilizing western parenting methods instead, with the hopes of fostering happy and passionate children rather than successful work-machines devoid of personalities. For a mother to bring her children up today under the Tiger Mom style, is in my opinion, both cruel and unusual. Parenting has changed so dramatically that to utilize that old style is just plain counterproductive and mean.

I enjoyed McFadden’s article because it provided the children of Tiger Moms’ perspectives. While some of the children (now young-adults) say that they will likely follow in their parent’s footsteps, I have to wonder: do they truly believe that this form of childrearing is productive and healthy, or are they approving of their parent’s actions because of the natural instinct children have to protect their parents? Similar to children that have been abused by their parents, and even battered wives, it is common for the victim to justify the wrongs done against them as an attempt to deflect attention to the abuse they’ve received. I believe that is the case here, and not that the children of Tiger parents actually appreciate the abuses they’ve been inflicted over the years.

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