IN HER best-selling ?Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,? United States-based law professor Amy Chua, who has Chinese-Filipino roots, described the very strict and demanding way she raised her two daughters.
The results were impressive. Her eldest daughter played at Carnegie Hall at a young age, while the other daughter earned the respect of renowned violinists.
Chua described herself as a ?tiger mother,? with sky-high expectations from her kids, and doing everything?reward, punish, etc.?to help them succeed.
I did a three-part reflection and review of her book (Feb. 21 and 28, and March 7), and received many reactions from readers, for and against.
Here are samples:
Pids Nogales writes: ?I enjoyed reading your three-part series on Tiger Moms. I think the tiger in moms emerges when they sense that their kids have enormous potential, especially gifted kids. They want their sons or daughters to develop their talents (so) they challenge them to test their limits and goad them to excel.
?In most cases, the most caring nature of moms predominates in the child-rearing process. The mother?s basic instinct is to protect and to shower love on her children, especially if they have difficulties, such as physical, intellectual and other disabilities.
?I think Tiger Moms are rare and precious. Perhaps time will tell if they are right after all.?
Shirley Ozaeta writes: ?I am bothered by Amy Chua?s book. Did she cook up a controversy to be able to sell it? I grew up in the 1940s when moms believed in the saying: ?Spare the rod and spoil the child.? I also have a lot of Chinese friends. I was not aware that punishment was the norm in disciplining Chinese kids.
?Is this the reason the Chinese criminal characters behave the way they do? (Were they like) that because they were not ?successful??...I am glad I am Pinoy. I want my space, my kids want their space, my husband wants his space.?
My reply: Chua?s book continues to generate controversy. I agree with Pids Nogales that tiger parents want their kids to excel because they believe that, with some pushing, their kids can do well. Chua points out that tiger parenting is not just done by some Chinese-American parents, but also by Indian-American, Iraqi-American and, in fact, by determined parents of any race.
Certainly, there is nothing wrong with encouraging kids to excel?unless the pushing becomes tantamount to abuse.
I believe that as long as kids are doing well, even with all the pushing, tiger parenting can be effective. But when kids start rebelling or worse?lying, cheating, and acting improperly?the stress may be too great. As Shirley Ozaeta points out, the price may not be worth it (though we can never tell what makes people go astray).
By the way, the quotation ?Spare the rod and spoil the child? comes from the Bible. Proverbs 13:24 which states: ?He that spareth his rod hateth his son, but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.?
What these lines from the Proverbs mean is, if parents do not punish the child, then he/she will not flourish. In other words, parents should not hesitate to chastise their kids. Whether or not this is correct is exactly the object of controversy in Amy Chua?s book.
Let the last word on tiger moms come from Mary Rice Hasson, who blogs at wordsfromcana.wordpress.com. Thank you reader Vars Sunio for sending me her piece ?Tiger Mom and Her Critics: Both Wrong.?
Hasson says Chua and her critics are both wrong on one important point?something I stressed in the last column, when recounting my own parenting experiences with my child Scott. I said that even if our son was doing very well academically, what was more important to him and to us parents were not grades but character.
My husband and I are proud of his high marks (of course, Scott works hard for them, and deserves them) but we love him more for his humor, his generosity, his kindness.
This is how Hasson puts it: ?Missing from Amy Chua?s work?and the comments of her critics?is any sense of a fuller purpose to human life. The measure of our parenting success is not what our child does or achieves, but what kind of person he or she becomes? So what should successful parents strive to do?
Raise a child who is determined to be a good, moral human being.
Teach the child right from wrong, grounding her in the rules that limit and govern human behavior.
Teach her the virtues (habits of doing good).
Help him forge strong relationships built on love, service, and respect.
Help him orient his talents, decisions, and achievements towards others (?the common good?) rather than selfish goals.
Model love, humility, forgiveness, and respect for all.?
Wilson Go writes: ?I like your three-part column on tiger mothers. Please forward to me the three parts so I can share them with my family and friends. Please keep on writing. Your articles help and motivate us all. More power.
My reply: Thank you for your kind words. The best way to forward all the three parts is to go to the Inquirer web site www.inquirer.net, find the article, and e-mail it to friends. Click on Inquirer Headlines and then Learning, and then the titles of my articles. Or type this URL: newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/learning and search for the articles you need.
E-mail the author at email@example.com.