'Panda Dad' Roars Louder Than Tiger Mom But With Softer Message

dad daughterHow you are going to raise your kids is a very personal decision, with lots of variables depending on where you live, what you believe, and your kids. Maybe you're a parent who would never serve your kid french fries, but then along comes baby #2 who won't eat anything but sometimes so french fries it is. Treat your kids right, keep them safe, love, love, love, and that should be that. But that's not how it is. There are stereotypes and judgements and the pressure to be perfect or follow a book or a style of parenting. Enter Amy Chua and the Tiger Mom way. Are Chinese mothers better? The French moms certainly don't think so. Neither does Panda Dad.

Wait, who the heck is Panda Dad?


Alan Paul is a father of three who stayed home to take care of the kids when his wife went back to work. He's a freelance writer who writes about rock and roll and a musician, and he juggles it all to make it work. The family even had to move to Beijing from New Jersey when the kids were 2, 4, and 7 so he got quite the firsthand experience seeing Chinese parenting -- the Tiger Mom way -- at work.

Paul admits he's a laid back kind of dad. The family lives in controlled chaos; and while if his wife stayed home to care for the kids and the house while he worked, this switching of roles would probably also allow the house to see more order. But, as he says "you can’t backseat drive how your children are being raised."

What I really like about what Panda Dad is saying is that he sees how some of the ways that Tiger Mom parents could work, but anything that is terribly strict and unwavering can't be a one-size-fits-all method that can be called superior. Even his way. He parents with cuddliness, but isn't afraid to show some claw. He wants his kids to take pride in what they do for their own benefit, not to satisfy a checklist a parent may have. He thinks kids need more unstructured play and less shuffling from class to class. He wants what we all want for our kids -- for them to turn out to be good people.

What we take from Panda Dad, Tiger Mom, and all the other parenting voices out there is up to us, depending on our own families, what makes sense and works. Chances are so many of us are already Panda/Tiger hybrids with even some French ways thrown in (Panger? Tigeda? Le Tigeda?). We should all do what works for us. Without judgement of others. Or the french fries they may serve.

Do you take bits and pieces of "parenting methods" and incorporate them into your own style of raising your kids? What do you think of Panda Dad?


Image via Peter Werkman/Flickr

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