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Why Tiger Mom got a raw deal

3 years ago

Matt Thrower writer
Matt Thrower Parent. Gamer. Coder. Writer. Bath, Bath and North East Somerset, UK
In 2011, Amy Chua became either the instant hero or instant villain of parents worldwide with the publication of her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.
It was a memoir of raising her daughters in an environment of pitiless expectation where only the very best was good enough. In one famous anecdote, she scolded her four-year old for a childishly-scribbled birthday card, discarding it with the words, ‘I deserve better’.
Chua was duly monstered in the press and parenting forums. And if that were the end of the story, it would be nothing less than she deserved.
But what most of her critics missed is that Battle Hymn was not intended as a parenting manual, but a discussion of eastern and western childrearing. Its conclusion was not the presumed insistence on dizzying excellence but an acknowledgement that both have their merits: that children need both hard motivation and gentle love.
So why did we all leap so enthusiastically on this bandwagon? Partly it’s the simple pleasure of outrage, but it seems an insufficient explanation for the amount of heat that Chua got.
I can’t help but wonder if the reason the work was so misinterpreted is because it pushed some fat guilt buttons amongst western parents that we’d prefer to remain hidden.
Because, let’s face it, most of us do mollycoddle our children. Whether we’re motivated by guilt due to long working hours, a lack of time for persuading recalcitrant kids, or a belief that childhood is a time for play, we’ve stopped teaching our kids that there are times when you just have to knuckle under and do important things that you may not fancy doing.
It’s hard. Children will wail and gnash their teeth. There will be sulking and resentment. But without learning the ability to focus when required, we’re in danger of raising a generation of gadflies. Which, if early evidence is to be believed, is exactly what we’re doing.

What do you think of the 'Tiger Mother' approach? Are we raising a bunch of gadflies? 
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