So I’ve been hearing a lot  about the Tiger Mother lately.  Have you?

It seems there’s a new controversial bestseller on the market wherein a Chinese-American mother tells it like it is:  if you want successful kids, you need to make them work.  Superduper hard.  From the cradle to college.  And not work hard in the American sense.  Work hard in the practice-your-instrument-three-hours-a-day and get pummelled-if-you-get-an-A-minus sense.    I read several articles about this book the other night and drew a few slightly sobering conclusions:

1.  The author is right.  Good results (top grades, musical expertise, the best colleges) come from freaking hard work.  And that work must be imposed by the parents, because children will not choose the hard work themselves.

2.  I would be doing my children a great service by pushing them to excel now.  When they get older, they will be stronger and better equipped for life–including the freedom to make more choices–because of the work ethic and education I have helped them obtain.

3.  A child’s self-esteem comes from accomplishment and self-mastery, not flattery.

4.  It would actually be a good thing for my children to have a Tiger Mother.

5.  But.

6.  I am not, nor will I ever be, a Tiger Mother.

7.  Ain’t happenin.’

Are you a Tiger Mother?  Are you even close?  Forget the Chinese version, are you an American version of a Tiger Mother (which would be about half as strict as this woman is)?  I really want to know.  If you are, I admire you.  I envy you.  Your kids will surely thank you.

It’s just not me. I wish it was.

I do make a mean chocolate-chip cookie, however. Maybe after your kids finish performing at Carnegie Hall, my kids can bring them a plate of cookies.  A brush with greatness is all we’re really shooting for over here.

13 thoughts on “Battle Hymn of the Kitty-Cat Mother

  1. Great comments! I actually just finished reading this book (after posting this) and it’s really quite funny and self-deprecating on the author’s part. Much less controversial than the reviews make it out to be. It’s a quick, enjoyable read if you’re interested (and it did make me want to do better…and not.) She is hard-core, but admirable. In a different world than I am, though!

  2. I second what Jaimy said. I just read the article about this Tiger Mom in my TIME magazine. I went into the article expecting to be disgusted by her strict ways, but it was the exact opposite. I am in awe of this mom’s commitment. She didn’t seem to be hiring coaches, nannies, tutors, etc. It was all her. If parents don’t have high expectations for their kids, then who will? Although her ways were quite extreme (and not my cup of tea), she has a point.

  3. Okay, I know I’m a day late in this conversation but I just wanted to say that what I admire most about this Tiger Mother is her devotion to her children. I will never be able to be that structured or strict, but I like a lot of what she says. Chinese mothers assume greatness in their kids and see it as their job to uncover it. They also believe that making children work so incredibly hard teaches them that hard work is the way to achieve anything. You don’t have to be talented or gifted or special. Just work really, really hard. I love that. But again, I will never be able to be that tough on my kids. I wish I were just a little more like her, though. Agree with her or not, here’s to a mom who is putting in the long hours and hard work for her children. There should be more like her!

  4. I have some very memorable sleep overs, was a track star, and played a lot of Zelda growing up. However my parents made sure I practiced the piano for 1 hour a day and longer when I was preparing for adjudications. Grade wise A’s were expected and B’s allowed in math. I had a gpa of 3.8 so my mom let me skip class now and then. I think my parents did a good job at finding balance. I was given freedom but I also had responsibilities. I am a college graduate, married an honest man, and am really enjoying life. I think going to extremes in either direction (perfection or laziness) is asking for disaster. I strive for balance.

  5. I have been carefully trying to find a balance between pushing my kids to achieve and letting them enjoy a carefree, whimsical childhood.

    I think it has to be a little of both, don’t you?

    p.s. I am currently crippled, so this might be a good time to pull the sympathy card and let you know how much I love a mean chocolate-chip cookie…:)

  6. I don’t know any tiger mothers. Do you? It’s a completely different world, one that I am not comfortable in. Nor ambitious enough to be invited to.

  7. Haven’t read about her myself, but I did see a huge discussion on Segullah. I guess she’s pretty controversial. I am not a tiger mother. I don’t believe in fear as a motivator for everything. My oldest is distracted by fear and loses concentration if she is too worried (this is a long story and I’ll probably post about it sometime). If you run this mom’s philosophy through the “eternal perspective” filter, is there a point in pushing our kids to some kind of uber greatness? That’s not the point of our being here. Balance, order, organization… these words fit what I try to achieve with my girls. Love and encouragement are the best motivators. I am sure you are a GREAT mom Jen, and that your kids are getting just what they need to make it.

  8. I am absolutely NOT a tiger mom and I don’t think I agree either. Why steal their childhood from them? I think there can be a fine balance of working hard without being mean and I just think that Tiger Mom is hard core mean! Did you read about when she ripped her daughter’s picture up because it wasn’t “quality?” Nope. Not a Tiger Mom!

  9. No – I am not a Tiger Mom – sorry to disappoint you!

    I have started trying to convince my kids to drop things so they can stay home and “be kids”.

    Somedays I regret that but most of the time I just want them to be kids!

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