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troubleinharlem's avatar

What's your opinion about "tiger moms"?

Asked by troubleinharlem (7976points) January 24th, 2011

Here’s the article. In it, there is a woman named Amy Chau who is a Yale law professor and self-described “tiger mother,” forces her 7-year-old daughter Lulu to practice for hours on end — “right through dinner into the night,” with no breaks for water or even the bathroom, until at last Lulu learned to play the piece.

Oh, and here’s another article from Newsweek.

What do you think about this? Would you ever do it? Do you know any “tiger moms”?

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39 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

Oh, goodie—another euphemism for child abuse.

LostInParadise's avatar

This book is absurd almost beyond satirization. The Onion did as good a job as is possible.

CuriousLoner's avatar

Because forcing your kids into things and treating them like crap is the best way for them to learn and grow on their own and will surely help with self-esteem and entering adult hood. sarcasm

ragingloli's avatar

Well, at least it prepares them for the bloody arena that is capitalism…

troubleinharlem's avatar

@CuriousLoner, @SavoirFaire : But their country is way ahead of ours in just about everything, though.

See here.

thorninmud's avatar

This is definitely not how we raised our kids, but she makes some good points.

Context is important. To pull this off, it helps if it’s the accepted norm in the surrounding culture. Kids raised this way while all of their schoolmates are enjoying a more permissive and individualistic upbringing would be quite likely to resent it deeply.

One thing I see of value is “assuming strength, not weakness” on the part of the child. Children pick up on subtle signals of expectations from their parents, and I do think that Western parents often send signals of over-concern for whether the child “can handle it”.

I also get what she says about pushing the child to persevere beyond what she thinks are her limits. The episode with the piano lesson is excruciating to think about, but the insight that pushing beyond the initial difficulties leads to a place of easy competence (which one never attains without going beyond one’s initial resistance), is invaluable.

I found it useful less as a child-rearing guide (I could never be that hard-nosed) than as personal inspiration. I think that part of being an adult is learning to find one’s own inner Chinese mother.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’ve been reading a lot around this issue. Apparently, many people think it’s either Tiger Mom (she, in particular, is ridiculous) or Helicopter parents here in U.S. (who watch every move their child makes for fear of failure). Well, that’s a false dichotomy because there are many parenting styles in between which don’t leave your children in therapy after years of ‘do your homework, play the violin, be a lawyer or a doctor’ (I’ve met MANY pre-med Asians and it ain’t pretty) nor are your children incapable of surviving out there. I further believe that Ms. Chau’s idea of success being about ‘competition in the world market’ isn’t my idea of success – why would I possibly want to raise kids who are ruthless enough to become some kind of a CEO in a global company? Please, what a nightmare.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@troubleinharlem Not according to your own second article. But it doesn’t matter. There are a lot of things that might make the economy run more efficiently or that might make scientific breakthroughs possible, but we don’t do them out of a basic sense of humanity.

squirbel's avatar

It’s a cultural thing. Americans allow their children to run their lives. I look down on Americans for this reason.

zenvelo's avatar

it’s insulting to Asians to call this “Asian parenting”. Amy Chau is a self-centered harpie, who prides herself on treating her children like garbage. She even calls them that when they fail her expectations.

And when her children abandon her in later years, she can smugly say she taught them all she knows.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@zenvelo Indeed. Luckily, the second linked article opens with this in the subhead: “All the controversy over Amy Chua’s new book has missed the fact that mothers in China aren’t raising their kids this way anymore—they’re copying the U.S. system.”

El_Cadejo's avatar

I went to school with a few kids who had parents like this. I always felt so bad for them. I mean sure they generally got good grades, but they also had stress and anxiety issues by 7th grade. Ill take B’s and a fulfilling life any day over A’s and a life of shit.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Here is a great article with more info.
She didn’t do this by herself. She had a full time Mandarin speaking nanny who fought he battles and did the heavy lifting. She is wealthy and has the resources to drive her kids. Most people cannot do this whether they want to or not.
She is using her kids as an experiment while benefiting from the book sales.

Carly's avatar

I always wondered if children who grow up with this kind of parenting loved their parents as much as children who didn’t. One time I got an F in a class I was REALLY struggling with. My mom was disappointed, and she said I had to take summer school to make it up, but in the same class, my friend got a C (she normally got As) and her parents grounded her for the whole summer and she had multiple other punishments.

She’s now an adult, and even though she got into a good college (I did as well), she doesn’t have an emotional connection to her parents, especially her mother.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I think it’s awful and abusive and I really hate parents who do this to their children.

flutherother's avatar

Tigers don’t treat their cubs like this. Very selfish behaviour.

stratman37's avatar

Someone ask that kid if she really feels unconditionally loved!

JilltheTooth's avatar

This is one adult child’s response to “tiger” parenting. It’s a remarkably accurate assessment of the fallout, IMO. I was raised by a “tiger mom”

El_Cadejo's avatar

So I just watched some videos with her…. That bitch is crazy…..

SavoirFaire's avatar

As I already said above, I think the issue of performance does not trump the issues of empathy or humanity. That said, I’m unconvinced that parents who abuse their children in the way that “tiger moms” do are actually getting greater results out of their children.

My parents were involved with my life, but never tried to control it. One of my neighbors, however, controlled every decision her daughters made. Not to be immodest, but I was top of my high school class, top of my college graduating class, and made it into a competitive graduate school. My neighbor’s daughters were average students all through their academic lives, neither went to her first choice college, and one tried to commit suicide.

They’re both doing okay these days, but neither is particularly outstanding. Now, perhaps I’m not particularly outstanding either at the end of the day. Past performances aside, perhaps things have evened out as time went by. I’m fine with that judgment, and it’s probably accurate. Still, that would mean that our parents achieved roughly similar results with very different amounts and kinds of effort. And unlike the daughters, I don’t resent my parents.

So really, which outcome was better?

nebule's avatar

just stunned…gosh this really saddens me that this kind of parenting is even legal

KatawaGrey's avatar

In the US, I see a lot of parents who are so far at the opposite end of the spectrum that they are no longer parents. They want to become their children’s best friends and are afraid to discipline them and teach them the proper way to act. This is just as detrimental as what Amy Chua does to her children. Thankfully, I was blessed with a mother who falls quite nicely between these two dichotomies.

It is true that parents should not teach their children that everything they do is right and good and perfect but neither should they treat their children as if everything they do falls short. So many people forget that kids are people too. They are not tiny adults, as tiger parents would believe, but neither are they unformed blobs that miraculously grow up when they turn 18, as helicopter parents would believe.

@Carly gave an interesting example. When I was a sophomore, I had a teacher who would grade based on his whims, gave no notes and expected us to complete assignments for his class during other classes. I got many bad grades in that class. My mother was smart to know that when I complained about the teacher, it was not simply me whining about how much work I had to do. How did she know this? Because she listened to me. She did not assume that because I was a teenager, I was just complaining for the sake of it but neither did she think that I was complaining because I shouldn’t have to do all that hard work. She took the time to get to know me so she would know when to intervene and when to let me do what I needed to do. Tiger parents and helicopter parents have no idea who their children are so they resort to blanket parenting methods without taking into account their children’s individuality. Maybe Chua’s poor daughter could not play that piece because she is not musician, but Chua did not take the time to figure that out.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@KatawaGrey Brilliantly stated.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I know I’ll look pretty silly if I agree with @SavoirFaire , but I’m impressed with how you wrote that.

YoBob's avatar

In the fencing world I have known more than one family headed by the equivalent of “tiger parents”. On the one hand, it does result in enhanced performance in a highly competitive sport. On the other hand, I can’t help but wonder what these kids will do with themselves when they reach the end of their fencing career.

RocketGuy's avatar

All the more reason to see Race to Nowhere:

Our kids have a lot of activities, but we make sure they are interested in them to begin with.

mammal's avatar

i kind of like the idea of a Tiger MILF.

troubleinharlem's avatar

@mammal: Wouldn’t that be a ciger?
You know, a cougar + tiger.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Having only read the articles so far, my favorite part is the part where it says that she makes her 3 year old daughter stand outside in 20 degree weather until she did better at her first piano lesson.

I can see the argument that your success as a parent is measured by how successful your kids are on paper, but I’d much rather have a well-adjusted, happy kid in a mediocre job who doesn’t play music than a musical prodigy or a company executive who commits suicide at the age of 35.

Most of her parenting is abusive, some of it is soft torture. I hope her kids are taken away from her by CPS and placed in a home that can match the love they have for the girls with loving actions.

GingerMinx's avatar

I find it very interesting that instead of charging this abusive parent with child abuse she instead gets huge media attention and sells books about it. Apparently it is alright to abuse your children so long as you write a book bragging about it.

DominicX's avatar

Appalling. And I know my parents would agree. I also find it ridiculous that these people seem to assume that you’re either a quasi-abusive authoritarian dictator parent or you’re a lax parent of two teenage mothers and a heroin addict. There’s a healthy middle in there. My parents were able to find it. This woman has obviously gone way too far on one end of the spectrum. She wants success, yes. But at what cost? Does this so-called “success” cease to be success if it’s only superficial?

Baddreamer27's avatar

I think its great that she is trying to give them a structured upbringing, and push them to excel, but I disagree with her tactics. Forcing her daughter to practice the same piano song for hours on end with no water or bathroom breaks, or how about when he threw down the card her daughter made her and called it “garbage” saying she should have put more effort into it if she was giving it to her-That is extreme. There is a difference in wanting your child to succeed by pushing them to excel and what this woman is doing. After watching several interviews of her she is constantly repeating “this is a memoir of my experience”, “its comedic, not meant to be taken tongue and cheek”, “my parents were strict chinese immigrants” To me sounds like she had a few mommy and daddy issues herself…You can be “strict” and you can be “abusive” but there definately is a line and I think some of what I read, her parenting is walking a fine line. (i do have to say that I agree with some of her points that we dont focus on our childrens future and thier success…more emphasis need to be placed on the schooling, and more time needs to be focused on better extracurricular activities than the TV or Computer)

tranquilsea's avatar

When I had each of my children I looked down at them and wondered aloud, “Just who are you going to be?” I did not wonder, “Just what can I force you to be?”

The lesson of working hard to achieve a goal is a valuable one but only if it is your own goal. I’ve spent my children’s lives watching them and facilitating their success and happiness. I am pretty confident that as they jump off into their own lives they are reaching for careers that they really want and will work for. I cannot nor would I ever dare to assume that I know what path they should take. I know what paths they will take based on their own dreams and desires.

My experience with my children’s piano playing has been simple: if they are allowed to play the music they want to play…they will practice for hours to perfect the piece and I never have to even remind them to practice (sometimes I wish they would give it a break). We are very lucky to have a wonderful piano teacher who will work hard to help the kids play the pieces they want to play…and they frequently pick very hard pieces.

Some of the things Ms. Chau says and does to her kids are abuse, plain and simple. She is fooling herself if she thinks that her kids are fine with it because they will jump into her lap and snuggle with her after. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if her children are terrified of her.

Asker's avatar

Sick woman.

RocketGuy's avatar

She is great at marketing, though. Because of the controversy, her book is selling like hotcakes.

YARNLADY's avatar

Amy Chua has recently said she wrote the book for laughs. She never expected people to take it seriously, and she has recanted her earlier statements that it was true.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@YARNLADY Source? As I recall, the story of Chua’s book came out slowly. First, there were excerpts from the book published in the Wall Street Journal under a sensational title that Chua herself did not choose. Then there were interviews in which she pointed out that her book was a memoir rather than a how-to book, and that the lesson of the book was about the failings of the method she inherited from her mother as well as its successes. I’ve never seen anything in which she claims that the book was fictional, however, nor can I find such a story now.

YARNLADY's avatar

another source
“My book is a bit of a spoof. I don’t write about all the fun we had.’

SavoirFaire's avatar

@YARNLADY Neither of those articles seem to say the book is fictional so much as they say that it is a memoir focused on the most relevant parts of the story. Chua’s recurring message in interviews has been that hers is a story of both success and failure, so I think here she is just saying that she left out the fun parts to focus on the direct consequences of her attempt at mimicking her mother’s parenting style.

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