You might be familiar with the controversial book, Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother, which to some is provocative and to others is inspirational. It’s the unconventional tail of a Chinese-American immigrant who desires to raise her daughters to be great – seemingly at any cost. From academic drills to hours of skill perfection to a harsh scolding for imperfection, Amy Chua, author of the infamous book, is a mother on a mission. And her goal is to guarantee that her children achieve excellence. Chua’s parenting premises come from her Chinese upbringing that she believes instills discipline, virtue and resilience. In her view, it fuels competition and achievement – something she says most lazy American children lack. While her parenting style eventually evolved, to ensure that her children were not dumbed down by a generation of TV watching, video-game playing, Justin Bieber concert goers, she put her foot down, cracked the whip and demanded excellence of her children. Extreme? Maybe. Necessary in her eyes? Of course.
But, where do you stand on the issue? Do you see yourself being that relentless parent who argues with little league referees for a bad call? Would you call yourself a “momager” (i.e. obsessed mom-manager) like Kris Jenner, who has all but sold her soul to ensure that the Kardashian clan soaks up every imaginable ounce of TV coverage possible? Or on the contrary, would you compare yourself to a reserved soccer mom (or dad)? Or a mix of all of the above?
It’s interesting because when I think about people who rose to extreme levels of greatness as young adults, almost always, there was a parent standing behind them, pushing them towards greatness (regardless of the method). Consider Venus & Serena Williams. They didn’t just learn tennis afterschool and suddenly win Wimbledon. No, their dad studied hours and hours of tape and coaching techniques and practiced with them religiously until they rose to international success. Likewise, I would consider Michael Jackson to be one of greatest entertainers of all times. And while I don’t condone Joe Jackson’s techniques, I would definitely recognize him as a huge factor in Michael’s rise to fame. Even Gabrielle Douglas’ triumph of double-gold medals at the Olympic Games was not by happenstance, but rather the result of tremendous personal sacrifice by her mother. And finally, well known neurosurgeon Ben Carson had a single mother behind him, pushing him to academic excellence and disciplined study. So while these parents may not have incorporated the methods of a tiger mom, they indeed share a common goal: a desire to help their kids succeed. And the question becomes, do the means justify the end? That’s a personal value judgment that every parent or future parent will have to make.
I believe that parents are a child’s first teachers and that God’s responsibility to parents is to pour into your kids and train them up in the right path. I’m personally invested in pouring into my daughter by teaching my daughter Spanish, conducting music workshops modeled after creative movement classes and introducing her to ballet and gymnastics. Sometimes my husband jokes, “Honey, she is only two years old” but I don’t think I’m being crazy. Okay, maybe a little crazy, but I just want to her be exposed to a variety of languages and cultures, to be able to express herself through the arts and to have a sound academic foundation. So, every weekend, we do an art project that focuses on a specific letter, shape, color or concept. And because providing a spiritual foundation is equally as important, we have taught her scriptures (she’s memorized three so far) and we work on virtuous character traits, like obedience and patience. Do I believe I’m raising an astronaut, physicist, world-renowned gymnast or the next best classical music composer? Absolutely. But, for me, the end does not justify the means to get there. Quality time and attentive listening are just as important as any other parenting principle. Likewise, hugs, sweet kisses and nurturing go hand in hand with creating a loving bond with your child. So, when my tiger mom instincts kick in, sometimes, I have to take inventory and remind myself that as long as she is healthy and happy, we’ve done a good job as parents. And everything else will come in due time.
What do you think? I’d love to hear from you. What do you think of the tiger mom philosophy? What is the right balance for instructing your kids? If you’ve enjoyed this article, please “like” my page on Facebook by clicking here; follow me on Twitter @thelovejourney7 or sign up below to receive email notifications.
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