Tiger Mom

I’m sure that all parents, to some degree, sympathise with this attitude. What mother doesn’t bask in the glow of a child’s success? But there has to be more to life than this, especially for the child, because sooner or later, he or she can’t be “number one

Here are some opinions about parenting.

creating society of ants
I will publish my thoughts shortly.
Mariette Ulrich | 20 Jan 2011
Tiger Mother parenting ignores dignity and heart of the child.
I’m sure that all parents, to some degree, sympathise with this attitude. What mother doesn’t bask in the glow of a child’s success? But there has to be more to life than this, especially for the child, because sooner or later, he or she can’t be “number one.” Fostering an unyielding (and unrealistic) attitude of “failure is not an option” is no way to prepare a child for setbacks in life. If the adventure of parenting is in any way an ego trip for the parent, it’s often the child who ends up falling under the bus.
“I see (and concur with) Ms. Chua’s point about some Western parents being overly concerned about damaging their children’s fragile psyches, to the point where they offer no guidance or correction whatever. Yet at the same time, children have souls, unique personalities, and human dignity. They are not, and should not be expected to perform as, machines. The goal of education is surely not to produce success-at-any-cost “winners”, but to expand the mind, heart, and soul of a human being.
The bigger consequence is that I find I’m socially awkward and simply do not fit into most people’s perceptions of family. Living in the western world people are used to family dinners and time-outs or groundings not being called names and being on the other end of a belt lashing. My self-esteem is on a constant roller-coaster ride and my confidence is arguably below average.”
Truble wit parenting

I don’t know if Amy’s daughters will eventually rise up against her but it may just happen that one day they get as little freedom and realize the emotional prison their mother had them caged into. Nevertheless, this is how it is for Chinese families and us children of this system find it acceptable when we’re younger because it’s what we’ve come to know as a child. It’s not until we become older and see other things that e realize how flawed the system we grew up really is.

I hope for Amy’s sake that her kids don’t turn out like me and my father but it wouldn’t surprise me if their relationship begins strain at some point.
Are there any parenting lessons to be learned from tiger mother Amy Chua?
There are certainly elements in what she is espousing that have scientific evidence that they constitute good parenting. Kids need limits and structure, and it’s good for parents to have high expectations for them—and if you want your kids to do well in school, you want to do things like getting involved in their schooling, having expectations of success and praising them when they do well.
On the other hand, the downside to what she is advocating, if I understand her correctly, is that if parenting becomes too authoritarian—and by that I mean overly restrictive, overly punitive, squelching any attempt by the child at independence or autonomy—those parenting practices have been shown to be related to elevated anxiety, depression and psychosomatic problems. Kids raised in those circumstances are less self-assured and socially poised, and more compliant.
In other words, on the one hand Amy states that children are fully capable, while on the other hand she controls them to such an extent that one might question whether she truly believes in them. How can we believe a child is “great” on one level, then treat them as if they are incapable of wisdom in practice? The approach screams of parental insecurity, not security.
A parent who is secure in themselves has no fear of their child’s imperfections and mistakes, but trusts that children are innately capable of finding themselves. Indeed, the struggle to identify their authentic voice is far more important than the perfect regurgitation of someone else’s dream of who they are.
Just a child
Just a child

Any extreme is bad. Overly Nice or Overly Strict, You Created the Monster

There exists in the cosmos a great measuring scale that balances out good parents with good children. If the parents stray either way from too light parenting to too strict parenting, the result at the other end of the scale is the same, a rebellious monster the rest of us will eventually have to deal with.
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2 thoughts on “Tiger Mom”

  1. Is Amy Chua right when she explains “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” in an op/ed in the Wall Street Journal?

    Suzan Song, Child/adolescent psychiatrist

    The question asks for anecdotal responses, but I’ll supplement it:
    As a medical director and child/adolescent psychiatrist of an Asian community clinic in California, as well as researcher in Asian adolescent mental health and an Asian-American woman myself, I’ll have to disagree from a clinical, research, and personal perspective.

    Depends on how one defines success – obtaining professional degrees in ivy league schools, high income level, or “status” vs. personal happiness/fulfillment, well-adjustment, good mental/emotional and social health. Not socializing one’s child (play dates, plays, etc) could clinically create anxiety for your child in the future. Through play, children learn how to express themselves, solve problems, manage interpersonal differences, etc. While she’s right in the notion that gaining mastery at something helps build confidence – emotional abuse and name calling do the opposite. Growing up in an emotionally invalidating environment has been linked to personality disorders. I see all Asian teens in my clinic, and many are academically quite successful, but also the ones I worry most about re: suicide. The depression red flags are different for many Asian teens, who are getting good grades, still engaged in extra-curricular activities, but are profoundly struggling with self-identity, self-esteem, and rigidity in thought about potential outcomes (either I have to be a Harvard lawyer, or I’ll be so ashamed that the only outlook is death). And more problematic is the stigma against outsiders (non-family) giving help – many parents do not want their children to see a professional, wanting to keep all issues within the family. She reports that when achievements are accomplished, then the child is celebrated — I have not seen that personally or clinically. The parents may boast to other parents, but that tends to create more stress for the child, feeling more responsibility to pleasing parents.

    There are multiple studies that report that despite high levels of academic achievement, Asian American students report poor psychological adjustment (Choi et al, 2006; Greene et al 2006; Rhee et al 2003; Rumbault, 1994; Yeh, 2003). The high level of parental interest in grades soley can create depression and anxiety for youth (Pang, 1991). And perception of parental dis-interest in emotional well-being is significantly associated with depression (Greenberger 1996; Stuart et al 1999). There are more studies but I’ll stop here, but it’s shown that harsh parental discipline is related to depression of Chinese-Am teens (Kim & Gee, 2000).

    And there are multiple stats around suicide in Asian Americans: These stats are available here:
    – Asian Am women 15-24yrs old had the highest suicide rates among any ethnicity (Dept of Health and Human Services)
    – California Institute of Tech 2009: 3 Asian suicides
    – According to New America Media, from 1996 to 2006, of the 21 students who committed suicide at Cornell, 13 were APA. This 61.9 percentage is significantly higher than the overall percent of APA students, which is 14.
    – From 1964 to 2000, the average number of MIT undergraduate student suicides was nearly three times that of many as the national campus average, with 21.2 students out of every 100,000 committing suicide in comparison to 7.5, with 11.7 as the national overall average.

    Respecting elders, filial piety, valuing education and intellectual growth are all positive attributes that I’m thankful for receiving from my Korean parents. I’m also thankful I did not have the emotional abuse, “helicopter parenting”, undue pressure on academic success that allowed me the flexibility to risk following interests, understand who I am and what drives me, and allow me to make the
    difficult decisions to pursue passions, though non-lucrative. Positive feedback can be low in many of these Asian families, only seen through
    the lens of mothers boasting to other mothers about a child’s accomplishments – furthering the debt and responsibility for that child. The notion that “my child can be the best” is a solid, encouraging one. My issue is the way in which Ms. Chua implements this.

    Ms. Chua’s article has the potential to be harmful – perpetuating the
    model minority myth that isolates some Asian Americans, places harsh
    demands/restrictions and disregards the large number that are struggling. Many believe that Asians are quiet and hard working, but that does not mean one is without psychological distress. It disrespects the large number of young people who are struggling with severe depression and suicidal thoughts, poor self-worth, inability to deal with life stressors or realities, or manage interpersonal relationships directly related to their parents’ love conditional on academic success. Independent of ethnicity, parents who help youth develop a personal sense of who they are and assist in building resiliency and
    interpersonal skills to modulate academic and professional success are
    more likely to develop into personally and professionally successful adults.

    For more info on Asian teen mental health, here’s a more extensive post:

    And here’s an interesting article about Chinese education that’s relevant: http://articles.latimes.com/2011

    Also, for people in the Bay Area, Amy Chua is speaking about this Op-Ed at Booksmith (1644 Haight St SF) at 7:30pm on 1/19, and a fundraiser at the Hillside Club in Berkeley at 7:30pm on 1/20.

    Here’s an interview with her that moderates the Op-Ed. Though she still makes a strange Western vs. Chinese parenting distinction, stating that there’s a “Western ideal of unlimited choice”. ?? She should stick to being a lawyer. I’m not sure how she’s building these stereotypes.

  2. I’d come to come to terms with you one this subject. Which is not something I usually do! I love reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

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