Notes: Tiger Parenting

First, notes from an article, Why Chinese Mothers are Superior: Short and to the point, Mother gets to say what the child can and cannot do. With ruthless efficiency, the child’s life is managed so that they can get top marks in school. They aren’t allowed to attend a sleepover, choose their own extracurricular activities, be in a school play, or complain about being stifled. Strictness is a virtue, and regimentation ensures regular practice on the violin. “What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences.” Western parents let anxiety about a child’s self-esteem handicap their efforts at pushing for success. The story about forcing Lulu to play the piano is good: much thrashing, fighting, insulting, threatening, and gnashing of teeth. As difficult for the mother as for the child.

Now, I agree that repetition and regular, steady, scheduled practice is depressingly underrated in American culture. But, I think the tiger mother style portrayed above corrects too far in the other direction. I mean, what if you child is naturally interested in drama? Should they not be mentored in ballet or acting? I think the discipline can go too far, stressing the love between child and parent to the breaking point. The separation can become a vast chasm of isolation and loneliness. I think the better way is to find new strategies of impassionately attacking a difficult situation. Not, to find clever, devious, conniving, callous methods of motivation.

Notes from another article in reply, ‘Tiger Mothers’ leave lifelong scars: “My father never asked if the abuse was unwarranted, and never questioned whether isolating me from the world was the best way for me to learn how to maneuver in it.” In spite of outward success, “I’m torn to pieces on the inside. I’ve been through countless hours of psychotherapy, and my lack of self-worth beckons me to rely on alcohol to numb the pain.”

It seems the tiger mother approach can get results, but at a pretty severe cost. The lavish praise when all efforts finally result in a success don’t necessarily heal the damage wrought during the struggle.