If you recall, Amy Chua, aka "Tiger Mom," was blasted earlier this year when an excerpt from her book was published in the Wall Street Journal with the title "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior" that talked about her uber-strict, heavy-handed parenting. People went ballistic, calling her everything from a child abuser to insane, which was unfortunate because contained in her inflammatory statements was some good advice.
Now that she's tamed her roar to a nice purr, it's easier to glean some of the wisdom I think she has to offer. Her daughter, Sophia Chua-Robenfeld, did get into both Harvard and Yale, so she clearly did something right. Right?
In a column published this week in USA Today titled "Tiger Mom: Here's how to reshape U.S. education," she offers some intriguing thoughts on education and parenting in general.
She talks about the mommy wars and why so many get so judgy of everyone else's choices.
Why are we so intolerant when it comes to child-rearing? Perhaps it's insecurity. We all desperately want to get it right and never know for sure whether we are. Perhaps it's because the stakes are so high, and it's terrifying to admit a mistake. Our society's need to ignite "mommy wars" is especially odd because anyone can see that there are many ways of producing happy, healthy children — and clearly no one right formula. Yet if someone has a different philosophy of child-rearing, we instantly feel judged and lash back.
That's it at its core -- raising our children is the biggest test of our lives, and we're so very scared of failing, of failing them, ourselves, and society. So all that judgement is just fear in disguise, fear that someone might be doing something different -- and perhaps better -- than we are in this game with no playbook.
She makes a good case for how East and West both offer some good child-rearing techniques, but that it's somewhere in the middle of lax, lenient parenting and stringent and strict rules that's probably most beneficial to our children and our countries.
If in their early years we teach our children a strong work ethic, perseverance and the value of delayed gratification, they will be much better positioned to be self-motivated and self-reliant when they become young adults. This is a way to combine East and West: more structure when our children are little (and will still listen to us), followed by increasing self-direction in their teenage years.
I agree completely. Now if someone could just tell us exactly how to do all that, we'd be golden.
What do you think of this advice from Tiger Mom?
Image via david_shankbone/Flickr