Why You DON’T Want to Be a Tiger Mother

By Josie Brown

Why You DON'T Want to Be a Tiger MotherAmy Chau’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, is causing anxiety in mothers everywhere, with good cause:

It exposes the weaknesses in all of us.

Chau has admitted to calling children bad names, to their faces. She  refused one daughter’s handmade birthday card for her, going so far as to toss it into the girl’s face because, as she told her child, “I deserve better than this. So I reject this.”

Coming clean with these parenting tales (sorry I can’t call them skills) has made her the queen of authoritarian parenthood.

For those who see her as a role model, I’ll give you three reasons to de-claw the mother tiger within:

Reason #1. Your children’s success can’t be measured in dollars and cents, only through their emotional health and happiness.

For those parents who use the standard of money to measure success, here’s the reality: not every kid will become a billionaire.

Nor is every child is meant to be a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist. Not all children grow up to be biz whiz geniuses like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg. And guess what? Your daughter may not win an Academy Award, and your son may never wear a Super Bowl ring.

And that should be okay with you.

If you can’t be proud of your children until they’ve accomplished any of the lofty goals you’ve got in mind for them, be ready for a lot of heartache.

If not yours, then theirs.

Oh, yeah: and some whopper shrink bills.

Because their drive–to please you–will in no way, shape or form make them happy.

Why? Because true happiness comes from within. It comes from accomplishing something for yourself, not through proving something to someone else–

Even if that person is your tiger mother.

Instead, your goal as a parent should be helping your children develop skills that play to their natural strengths.

Doing so allows them to strive for attainable accomplishments. More importantly, it gives them the right mindset to be happy and healthy.

And all great things flow from there.

Reason #2. You can’t force your children to live your fantasy life.
Your children may not have the innate skills to follow your career path. They may have no inclination to go to–or do as well as you at–your alma mater. They may not want to marry who you’d prefer for them, or live where and how you wish.

Why? Because no matter how hard you’d wish it for them, they don’t want to be you.

And sorry, you can’t be them, either.

Just like your parents could not be you–no matter how hard they may have tried; and no matter how how obligated you may have to so pleased them, perhaps even forgoing your own happiness.

When your children are mature enough to realize this (they may be twelve, or seventeen, or thirty-seven; rest assured, that day will come), they will let you know this, in no uncertain terms.

If you can’t accept this fact, don’t expect to see a lot of them.

Reason #3. Love can’t be created from guilt, but from appreciation. Respect doesn’t come through obligation, but from inspiration.
Mother tiger tactics of bullying, guilt trips, and punishment aren’t motivational at all. They will drive your children out of the door as soon as they can walk, run, or drive away.

Children are very sensitive to their parents’ emotions. Yes, they may want to please you, but that doesn’t mean that they love or respect you.

Remember this: every move you make as a parent is a lesson to your child. You lead by example. That said, true love comes from trust. We trust those whose words are inspiring, and whose actions are generous.

Chua told Meredith Viera of NBC’s Today Show, “It’s a tough world out there.”

She’s right about that. But what era has that not been the case?

If, truly,  your goal is to do what is right for your children–to right by them–then don’t look at their lives through the prism of your own, or for that matter your parents’. Your children are different people, living in a different time or place.

They are living in a different world.

If the life you’ve led has been exemplary, if you’ve shown them love, respect and appreciation, they will survive.

Better yet, they will thrive.

You have nothing to worry about. The kids are all right.


Josie Brown is SingleMindedWomen.com’s Relationships Channel Editor. Her most recent novel, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, is in bookstores everywhere.

Her next novel, The Baby Planner, will be in bookstores on April 5, 2011.

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