Are You A Tiger Mom?

Heard about “Tiger Mom” Amy Chua? Mom Ashley Paretta of Lorain, OH certainly has! She’s been following the media frenzy on Chua for some time now, and wanted to chime in on one of the most controversial topics of the year.

Amy Chua has stirred up considerable controversy with her memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and a recent article for the Wall Street Journal entitled Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior. In her book, Chua recounts her own childhood experiences with strict Chinese immigrant parents and her reliance on those parenting skills with her own children. Many commentators have called her parenting far too extreme for this day and age, while others have agreed  her methods do work.

Ashley is not a supporter of Chua’s parenting methods. She shared with us what she feels is the real measure of success when it comes to raising kids…

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Childhood

What do you picture when you think of a “successful person?” Is it a billionaire lounging by the palm trees on his beach home in Waikiki? Is it a stay-at-home mom who finds immeasurable joy in watching her toddler take his first steps?

Success is a relative term, so I’m not quite sure why Amy Chua believes she has a monopoly on the key to raising successful children.

If you haven’t heard of her yet, Chua characterizes herself as a “traditional Chinese mother” who refused to let her daughters participate in what many of us would consider normal childhood activities.

Chua’s latest book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was released earlier this month and immediately came under firestorm from critics who found her rigid parenting style to be detrimental to nurturing a child’s creativity and self-esteem.

Her daughters have never attended a sleepover, had a play date or been allowed to watch television. They were not allowed to ever not succeed (unless it was in drama or gym class). When her youngest daughter Lulu couldn’t properly play a difficult piano piece, Chua forced her to sit at the piano for hours without bathroom breaks until she got it right.

The end result? She has “successful” children—as in, they consistently got straight A’s and have won a series of musical competitions.

But as the old adage goes, “One woman’s success is another woman’s failure,” right?

I don’t want to undermine Chua’s daughters; I assume that they are highly intelligent and lovely young ladies but I just don’t see how compulsively competing and striving to be the best rather than to do your best can possibly be equated with success.

With all this focus on classical music and academia, I wonder where they found the time to develop other skills that I believe are indicative of success?

How can they develop compassion, when they’ve never been allowed to develop a friendship? How can they develop self-sufficiency when they’ve never been able to make their own decisions? How can they be happy, when their happiness has never been a priority?

Most worrisome to me, is Chua’s assertion that her style of parenting is superior. Success may be a relative term, but superiority is not. What works for the Chua family is certainly not universal to all families.

I don’t see how Chua’s parenting style is necessarily good mothering; definitely not superior mothering.

Personally, I believe “success” is defined by confidence and self-sufficiency, and in that context, I believe Chua has failed miserably. How can a child learn to function independently of her parents when she’s never had the opportunity to make mistakes, learn from them and be confident in her own decision making?

~ Ashley Paretta

Moms, give us your definition of success in one sentence or less. (It might not be as easy as you think)!

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