Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Love The Tiger Mom. I Hate The Tiger Mom


By now, you've probably heard of Amy Chua, the "Tiger Mom".  She recently released a book about Eastern-style parenting and was featured in a highly-debated article in the Wall Street Journal titled "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior".

Some of her more inflammatory admissions include how she called one of her daughters "garbage", threw a homemade card back in her face because she deemed it a lousy effort, and made her practice piano for hours on end without meals or bathroom breaks.  

Chua mocks Western parenting as weak-willed and indulgent.  According to her, we are far too focused on our children's self-esteem and not enough on giving them the skills to prepare them for a successful future.  American parents are up in arms: defensive of their parenting style and horrified by Chua's borderline-abusive practices.  I've even heard some special needs parents chime in with opinions on both sides of the issue.  

Me, I'm feeling a little ambivalent about Tiger Mom...

Why I Love The Tiger Mom

  • She's taught me a lesson that is far more valuable than any parenting advice.  She's taught me that when my book comes out I should get out in front of it with a bunch of bat-shit crazy stuff that will get people worked up into a lather and keep mum on the fact that in the end I pretty much renounce all of it.  See, by the time the death threats come rolling in, you are far too rich to care.  My book will totally up the ante, because all of the degrading and torturous parenting techniques will be inflicted on a disabled kid...holla!  Twice as horrifying = twice as rich, y'all!
  • She didn't allow her daughters to attend sleepovers, have playdates, play sports, or be in school plays.  Yes!  I am so with her on this!  Audrey will never do those things because she does not have the skills to do so they are completely non-value added activities in the eyes of us Tiger Moms.
  • Anyone who gets typical parents screaming in each other's faces and tearing each other limb from limb is OK in my book.   If even one typical mommy gets clocked in the head with a sippy cup at one of those odious MOPS playgroups, I will be forever in her debt.
  • She has a younger sister with Down syndrome, so she understands that her approach would have to be modified for special needs kids.  Chua says "No one expected Cindy to get a PhD!"  See?  She totally gets us.


Why I Hate The Tiger Mom

  • According to Time, Chua is one year older than me and "carries off a short-skirted wardrobe that could easily be worn by her teenage daughters".   Bitch.  I'm much more upset about this than the "garbage" thing.
  • In addition to the social activities listed above, she also doesn't allow her kids to watch TV or play video games. Doh.
  • She somehow manages to completely degrade and humiliate her children, but without the use of profanity.  How does she do it?
  • She's struck a nerve with Western-style parents that I'm afraid will make them re-think their lax ways.  The last thing I need is for typical parents to see the light and start riding their kids to be more successful.  As it stands now, Audrey's got a fighting chance against the mollycoddled underachievers that she claims "self-esteem parenting" churns out.

What about you?  What do you think about the Ouching Tiger, Hittin' Dragon?

50 comments:

  1. That is true...we do want the typical kids to stay average or below average. Gives our kids a fighting chance! Keep feeding them processed foods! Keep allowing them to skip homework for video games! Audrey for President! Katie can be a Supreme Court Justice as she has a good sense of "that is WRONG"...hehe.

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  2. rar.

    I'm with you on the whatever gets typical parents to tear each other up. I love watching those bitches lose their mind.

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  3. or at least distract them enough so they can stop telling me how to cure my child.

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  4. I almost didn't read this due to Tiger Mom overload. Glad I did--hilarious. Second bullet point in the love section, especially.

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  5. My favorite post yet!! I wouldn't worry about American mom & dad being inspired to rise above their current apathetic parenting styles anytime soon.

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  6. I'm with Autism Mom, this is the best post, well, except for that freaky ass horse you put the video of.

    I am laughing and thinking deeply. But not about myself, just the state of America's kids today. I am not a tiger. Not even close. I am all mush unless I am tired, hungry, or pushed to the edge. Then I'm just a bitch, not really a tiger.

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  7. I think she's so crazy there is no need to defend my parenting style.

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  8. Can I bitch slap this jerk? No, not you Lynn, the chinese laundry lady.

    Who died and made her resident psycho teacher?

    Force me to play piano? I don't think so, Slick.

    She makes Mommy Dearest look like Mary Poppins. This woman has some major control issues in her life. She should seek professional help about that.

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  9. Sometimes, it really pays off to be Canadian. I had not heard of this at all and now I know why it's shown up on another blog I read. I met one of the "progeny" of such parenting techniques. She got beat on the legs with a metal pole for every point away from 100 she got on tests. She was the saddest young woman I had ever seen, and came to Canada to get an education away from her family...like MANY of them do. To her I say, "fuck you"...abuse is abuse. One can be firm and not hurt kids. I taught for a living...I know it's true.

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  10. Let me finish PML and then I will think of a reasonable response *mops up* K, I am back. Hmm, I have seen reference to this Tiger Mom over the last few days but because my life is shit and I do 'esteem parenting' I have obviously been too busy bolstering up my sad children to go and google it. I rest my case!! Jen

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  11. Awesome post. Everyone in Australia is talking about it (Tiger Mom, that is. Not you), and it was interesting to read an autistic parent's point of view.

    Of all the friends of with autistic kids we know, the ones of Chinese origin seem to suffer extra HUGE cultural roadblocks when it comes to dealing with their own families or finding their own acceptance.

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  12. I am so glad my brother turned me onto your blog! There were a lot of Tiger Moms in the military when I raised my kids, one of whom was special needs. I heard some of these women argue that, of course, their GT children needed to be in the Army's Exceptional Family Member Program because being academically gifted is a disability!

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  13. Nice try, but don't think you are playing the Autism card to get out of sleep-overs. I say the girl trash, er uh, I mean, ENJOY your house first, and then........we'll see how it goes.

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  14. I'm probably just a really crappy slacker mom because I don't really think success in life can always measured by achievement.

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  15. This definitely runs a close second to the crazy mcbitchington post! I love you, Lynn! "holla!"

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  16. Ok. This is going to make me pretty unpopular, but I think the IDEA behind her madness is one that I agree with. We have a very gifted older daughter, a four year old with autism and a three year old who went through meth withdrawal (adopted...I am not a druggie). We push our kids to be the best that they can be. Gifted daughter learned to read at 2-1/2 not thru osmosis, but hard work and drills. She loves reading, had the obvious aptitude and was an information sponge. Standards of learning said she didn't have to read until age 5, but why wait if she had the aptitude? She has skipped eight grade, is set to graduate a year early, proficient in three languages and socially at peer level.

    Our son with autism doesn't have any special gifts that we have seen yet (other.than he can wear the HELL outta his kid glasses. He is a doll!). Thru drills, he learned his colors and shapes very early on. We drill the he'll Uttaranchal that kid: name, age, teachers names, etc. When he was petrified of Turning a faucet on, we MADE him do it over and over again until he could do this without crying and freaking out. Many, many examples of things we do and that you probably all do to make (yeah, i said make) our kiddos live up to their potential.

    Our three year old has some global delays and apraxia. We had so many slpts tell us that his speech was below average, but wasn't problematic enough (it was below average, but fell into the average "range" by one point, so he didn't qualify.) to warrant early intervention services. We went through insurance to get him into therapy. Why wait until a deficiency is SOOO back. Why not correct things when you know a problem/delay is there.

    Long post, i know, but this obviously means a lot to me. I just think that my job as a parent is to do everything i can to not let my kids fall through the cracks and to absolutely push them to live uo to the potential they have-whatever that may be.

    :)

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  17. Ok...auto correct sucks.

    * drill the hell outta that kid

    To wrap this up, her idea of making her children successful is something i believe in. Her METHODS suck, and I don't condone any of that.

    ...and I DO swear around my kids, but i have never called them garbage!

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  18. Well, she can use the sales of her book to pay for the therapy her children pursue in the upcoming years. I highly doubt this will do more than cause a ripple in American parenting, as many parents can hardly be motivated to show up at school for conferences let alone do much more.

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  19. As someone raised by wolves and using the "Fat Lazy Dad" method of raising my own children, I have absolutly nothing relevant to say about Tiger Wood's Mom.

    I'm just happy you don't even try to "carr[y] off a short-skirted wardrobe that could easily be worn by her teenage daughters."

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  20. My opinion? We're all screwed as parents no matter what we do. If you're a Tiger Mom, you're a bitch who puts far too much pressure on succeeding. If you a Mollycoddler, then you're setting your kids up to expect everything to be handed to them. I think the whole goal for all parents should be that their children will someday be productive enough as adults to be able to pay a therapist to sit and listen to how horrible their childhood was.

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  21. Yeah, there's no fucking way she did that without profanity.

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  22. Special needs aside, her method only works if you define "success" as achievement. And yes, her children are achieving at becoming piano playing, math whiz stereotypes. But if your definition of success includes happiness, a sense of worth, and not committing suicide (check out the stats), the tiger mama approach just doesn't work.

    My husband likes to point out that there aren't a lot of Asian CEOs in US companies, (though there could be many factors here, including racism) and that social skills are as, or more, important for leadership positions.

    I don't subscribe to the "everybody wins" approach I hear a lot about, but there has got to be a happy medium.

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  23. Totally agree with Jennie. Sucess shouldn't just be based on achievement. That leaves a lot of stuff out and equals screwed up kids. Wonderfully stated! Also, withholding food and bathroom breaks is abuse. Who knows what else she did.

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  24. She makes it seem like we arent worthy... *sigh*

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  25. Funny post!

    I think she's ape-shit crazy!

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  26. Hilarious! Kicking this one around Facebook right now..........

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  27. @AutismMom @Bethany: Your low opinion of American parents makes me feel so much better.

    @lebelinoz: Everyone in Australia is not talking about me? Dang.

    @Carmen: Your brother is awesome! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    @Aimee: A sleepover at my house would consist of Audrey being asleep by 8:00 and GA and I tearing it up.

    @Kelly: I think that there is a grain of a lesson in here for parents that let their kids be parked in front of TV or video games all day long, but her methods are extreme...and probably even exaggerated just to sell books.

    @JennieB: I think the answer is clearly somewhere in between. She is clearly nuts, but I'm also not a fan of some of the products of our "self-esteem" generations.

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  28. I have to let my mom know that her style of parenting now has a name.

    BTW, I'm in one of those MOPS groups. Whenever anyone complains about how their NT kid is giving them hassles, I like to come back with "Yeah, I spent most of November trying to get my autistic son over his phobia of kangaroos." I *so* get out of casserole duty.

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  29. I think she is an ABUSIVE, NARCACISSTIC WITCH, and should have had her children taken away from her. It is wonder they did not slit their wrists, and it would have been HER FAULT!!!!!

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  30. I do not think wanting your child to have self esteem is molly coddling. I have 4 children, they younger 2 are special needs. I am a single parent, and I have ALWAYS attended every conference, field trip, special event, etc. I have busted my ass to make sure I was involved with my children's school and teachers. Are my kids perfect? No, but they are well adjusted independent children. If that is a bad example of american parenting, they can kiss my ass!
    younger

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  31. Younger? Younger!?! YOUNGER? younger

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  32. Remember the saying "Be nice to your children, they get to choose your nursing home"? Wouldn't want to that woman when she starts having to rely on her kids. Don't you just love karma?

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  33. Sorry! Younger was a typo. I was going to use a different sentence, and I somehow missed deleting it!

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  34. @Chloe: I feel better now. My OCD was killing me on that just hanging off there. ;) Btw, we all wish Lynn was younger.

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  35. Big Daddy for the wound! Ouch!

    I'm satisifed with my parenting approach for Piper and I know I'm the best Mom for her.

    I predict Tiger Mom is a flash in the pan and will be yesteday's news a month from now.

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  36. @BigDaddy: you are never to address my lovely readers again.

    @Chloe: Just ignore him...everyone else does. Thanks for reading and commenting....if I were a single parent of 4, 2 with special needs, I wouldn't be able to form a sentence at all. Sounds like you are a fierce warrior mom that Tiger Mom wouldn't have a prayer against!

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  37. Tiger Mom appeals to the average American's need for some kind of weird extreme adrenaline rush. Next week it will be a new caffeinated drink, or maybe a really creepy movie.

    Anywho, I grew up with the Jewish version of Tiger Mom and it did not go well. I needed a lot of therapy in adulthood to get my boundaries and self-esteem back. I would have preferred to have spent all that money on a nice piece of San Francisco real estate, but oh well.

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  38. Sorry. And to be honest, they're not saying much about Chua. It's all Oprah Oprah Oprah, over here, even though she left two weeks, three days, three hours and 47 minutes ago.

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  39. Ok. I've never heard of this chick until just now.

    And I think I would totally get along with her.

    I say all sorts of mean hurtful things to my kid. I call him an ass hole all the time. So what if he can't hear me.

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  40. I saw her on the Colbert Report. She didn't seem so nuts. Just quite a bit misunderstood. But I didn't read the book. Did anyone here?

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  41. @Ericka: I can only speak for myself...I have not. I've heard that she comes off quite reasonable, and that's why I think much of it was exaggerated (either by she herself or with her blessing) to create hype and sell books. From what I understand, the book is really the story of how she ended up putting much of her "tiger" methods aside when her younger daughter rebelled and that much of the book is humorous or kind of tongue-in-cheek.

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  42. I love ya Lynn! Terrific post!

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  43. Tiger mom doesn't mention the high number of suicides by Chinese youth because they can't take the pressure.

    Makes her child practice the piano for six hours a day, yet she's not going to be a musician. Can anyone name one famous Asian musician other than Yo Yo Ma who definitely plays the cello in a way a tiger mom would beat the creativity out of him.

    Also, why are so many Chinese students coming to America for their college education?

    Lastly, I'm a guy and I agree. You should get to slap her for the miniskirt.

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  44. not to offend any asians but... when we lived in san jose i second that NO ONE ever played with us! we invited ppl over all gthe time but because of the fact that they don'tg do play dates, they never came over. It was very lonely. I understand where they are coming from, but i think its rude to not let your children play with other children if they want to be friends.

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  45. All she's doing is making money by repeating things we've already known to be stereotypes from the get-go: Asian parents are overly strict, are too demanding, their kids have nervous breakdowns/commit suicide if they can't handle it, etc etc etc. Seriously, Tiger Mom, tell me something I don't already know.

    Oh, and she's super vain and needs to be kicked. The end.

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  46. What a great jumping off point for a post!

    Stumbled!

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