Friday 10 June 2011

Are you a tiger mother?

As a response to my post about competitive mothers, a friend asked me if I knew the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Already too fed up with competitive mothers, she didn't want to read the book but since I'm new to the phenomenon I decided to give it a try.

As the cover suggests it, this book "...was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones. But instead, it's about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory...". I won't write a review except that, for your information, I found the book very entertaining. No, this post is about a few (highly debatable) questions that arose while reading it.

We all want the best for our kids and the way we raise them will impact the rest of their life. However, what is the best strategy? Amy Chua, the author of the book, presents many educational paradoxes between "East" and "West" that made me think about how I was going to raise Alice in the years to come.

Question 1
Should I force Alice to do things because I know that in the long run it will open doors for her or let her choose her own path?

A real tiger mom thinks that kids don't know what is good for them. Therefore, they should never question what they are told to do!

Question 2
Should I tell Alice that it is ok to fail as long as you tried your best or insist that she works even harder because I believe in her intellectual / physical capacities?

A real tiger mom doesn't accept failure. She will have her kid practice over and over again the same piano piece or mathematical problem until it reaches perfection (add tears and many "I hate you mother" in the process)!

Question 3
Should I tell Alice "white lies" in order to spare her self esteem or be honest with her at all time?

A real tiger mother will not tell, for example, her overweight daughter the she is beautiful. She will tell her that she is fat and that she should change her diet and exercise more!

So, are you a tiger mother? If not, do you have a favorite book that reflects your values regarding children education?

note: there is not much tiger blood in me!
note note: my first note is not a Charlie Sheen reference, ah!

* * * * *

courtney: I like your attitude :) (Yes. Bug off!)

verypurpleperson: Wow, this is great! I didn't know that in Southeast Asia women are expected to breastfeed until the child is 2 years old! Very interesting!

lola: I totally agree with you (if my babies were young enough to require milk or formula of some kind, it should be mine) and I also understand the want my body back thing.

lina: Tripp Trapp rocks! I didn't know that pregnancy hormones can effect the quality/quantity/taste of breast milk. There are so many things to learn about breastfeeding.

isa: This is what I would like to do (in the morning and before going to bed at night). Oh, you are from Montreal! Do you have a blog?

kara: Oh, the biting looks so scary! Thank you for the tip (a firm "no biting").

susanna n.: I'm just like you. I used to think that it was bizarre to breastfeeding a baby that can actually ask you for milk! Crazy how opinions can evolve!

ali: Ah! I don't know if Alice will be like your first kid (too busy living life to nurse).

kim u: Sorry, I'm French. What is a MIL? I'm very happy to get good feedback about the Tripp Trapp since it is a bit expensive.

jennifer: I'm pretty sure that you are not a minority. And even if you never breastfed Gaius, he is a cute, smart and healthy kid!

190.arch: Interesting point about cow milk. I will read more on the subject.

lin: OMG,I was so surprised with the 4 years average! I love to learn new cultural things like that!

genevieve: One word : wow :)

uk lass in us: Really? I didn't know that some babies refuse solid food after, I dunno, 6-7 months! Ah, so much stuff to consider.

daniela: Just like you, I hope to reach 6 months, hopefully 1 year and after I will see! Oh, so sad to learn that you have a boobies situation!

sew nancy: I totally know that I will also be sad to stop breastfeeding :(

kine: As long as you have a happy kid! This is what I find the most important. And I'm sure that German strawberries are super good!!!

yvonne: This is so sad when shit like that happens! I would have felt just like you! I will remember your exact words: a great nutritional insurance policy. Perfect explanation!

sid.: Oh, yeah, breastfeeding two kids at the same time must be something extremely intense!

anonymous: You are right dear (!), it is time to toughen up :)

shayna: Oh no! This is awful!!! I wanted to cry when I read your comment. Poor you! xox


Little Gray Pixel said...

Oh my goodness.

"A tiger mother will not tell, for example, her overweight daughter the she is beautiful. She will tell her that she is fat and that she should change her diet and exercise more!"

Please do not do this! I have been overweight more or less my whole life, and I plan to take steps so my daughter will be healthy without goading or criticism, such as eat the same healthful meals as a family and exercise daily as a family. If she is still overweight even after doing these things, I plan to accept her as she is -- she will be BEAUTIFUL no matter her weight -- and never ever tell her to diet. In my experience, this will only lead to sadness and rebellion.

Lola said...

Oh My! I am NOT a tiger mother. And it is never a white lie to tell your daughter she is beautiful at any weight. We are all beautiful.

I don't think there is anything wrong with encouraging kids to master a skill. But I try to base those things on what they naturally love to do.

To me, success, money, and proficiency should hold very little bearing on the choices we make in this life. I value art, literature, and career satisfaction but ultimately this life is only about the relationships we have while we're here. Peace, joy, love, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self control, those are my hopes for my children. And they will fail for certain but that is how I can teach them forgiveness.

and I teach my kids to question everything they are told... in a respectful way. :)

Clairsy said...

hmm, my husband is a teacher, and his school is very academically successful - the result of many of his students having "tiger mums". The parents are often first or second generation migrants, and very ambitious in ensuring their children will be successful (understandably). These kids get amazing grades, can play all manner of instruments at top level, and will most likely go onto lucrative careers. However my husband feels sad that they have so much pressure on them from a very early age, don't seem to have a close relationship with their parents, and don't really get a fun childhood (this is generalizing massively).

Clairsy said...

(PS your comment on my blog about the corn cobs cracked me up - I've started stocking up on them! :)

Ali said...

I LOVED that book - made me determined to be a touch more tiger-ish!!
Of course we have to force our children to do things - not least, brush their teeth. There is no 5 year old on the face of the earth that would have decent dental hygiene left to 'choose their own path'.
It's okay to fail, but not if you could have succeeded with a modicum of effort. It's my job as a mother to take the long view, because they are shorter and cannot see as far into the future as I can.
I don't know about number 3 - my eldest has more self-esteem than anyone I have ever met. So much that he just ignores me if I'm being critical. I don't know where it came from, but it wasn't through me 'sparing his feelings'.

The thing I loved most about the book was the humour she could see in the situation - she knew she was being a monster. But hell, at least she was fully involved in her children's lives and put them first. There are worse sins in parenting.

Isa said...

Hi Claudia, No I don't have a blog, only a Flickr where I put pictures of my sewing and family. :)

Shannah said...

Oh! I'm glad you read it so I don't have to:)

I certainly don't agree with the psycho level of tiger mom in the book but I have to admit that I have had my tiger mom moments! My oldest likes to tease me about these moments now, so hopefully no damage done:)

Let me know if you find any kinder gentler mom books!
I like anything by Amanda Soule and have this book on my list: Simplicity Parenting

Kim U said...

Sorry! MIL = mother in law :)

Re: books, my philosophy has mostly evolved to ignore all of them and go with what feels right to me. The whole "tiger mother" business feels very wrong for me.