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January 12, 2011


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Non-tiger mom in Fairfax Co.

Sometimes it seems we are running out of ideas for new books or ways to garner attention. I stopped reading at "Here are some things my daughters...were never allowed to do: attend a sleepover..." Give me a break.

The local planet killer

I sometimes wonder if my attitude towards parenting is driven by having two "disabled" children, or whether I would have been this parent regardless. I see my children as people. They are not a reflection on me, not an accomplishment of mine, and this isn't MY life - it's theirs, and I am a bit player in it. I am trying to raise responsible adults who will go off and do their own thing, not wills broken to my will from an early age.

The important thing, to me, about childhood is developing without the stresses placed on adults. It is about a progressive independence and responsibility as you are able to handle it, and hunger for it as a phase of your development to adulthood. I have definite minimum standards, and many in my snoburban community see me as a very strict parent. But it is about what is developmentally appropriate for my children, and developing for them a security that comes from knowing the rules and having a belief that what the parent says is trustworthy.

The most valuable part of childhood isn't getting a head start on being a piano virtuoso, or a professional ball player, or relentless perfectionist. Perfectionism is toxic and self-destructive. The important part about childhood is developing into the person you are supposed to be and working towards the skills you will need to support that person.

The parents who only love what their child can accomplish dig a dark hole that some therapist will later make a fortune filling in.

Not The Person You Think I Am

I haven't read the book, but I am pretty fascinated by people's responses to it. Apparently Snoburbia, and the rest of America, isn't quite ready for actual diversity. I guess it's a groovy cultural accessory to look Chinese, but heaven forbid you would have actual Chinese values. And what nerve Chua has, to reveal aspects of her culture that aren't even exotic collectibles we can be the first on our block to own!

I loved your take, Snoburbia: no criticism or name-calling, just the casual observation that you are an entirely different kind of Exotic Animal Mom.


Can he juggle, break dance, do a back flip, do the Hammmer Dance, and recite the D of I all at the same time? Sounds like a Harvard shoo-in to me.


There are two Intel winners at my kids' high school alone. It's not even a magnet school! It's pretty much a constant bombardment during awards season around here. I think I'll dive and remain underwater for five minutes.


So I see all this a bit differently. The essence of the tiger parent approach is, like it or not, what you need to do to develop real talent fully. The essence of the tiger parent attitude is: of course my child has real talent. And throughout history you see many, many cases where what you could call "extreme parenting" approaches have yielded real genius. The problem I see a lot is parents who have clearly talented kids but not *extremely* talented kids. In those cases, the results can be really pretty bad. My kid's music teacher has a lot of students who are really musical. They certainly have talent. But what they do not have is the level of talent that really requires 3 hours a day of practice. I know the teacher knows it. In most cases the kids know it. But in most cases the parents have no clue. And that may not end well. You can make an argument for some sizable level of parental intervention in the life of a kid who has an ability level (say) three standard deviations above the mean. But that really has to be scaled back for most kids because the alternative is totally counter-productive.


The Planet Killer said, "The parents who only love what their child can accomplish dig a dark hole that some therapist will later make a fortune filling in."

I have to agree. I push my kids to do their best but they don't always have to be the best. I am lucky that most of my children do well in school. They study hard and they reap the results but I don't want to put pressure on them to be THE best because to me that isn't as important.

My kids have played instruments and well... you all have been to school band concerts... they sound liek the rest of the kids. My kids of done dance and gymnastics and they do well. I have them in these activities for the experience not to train to become gold medalist. If they do excel in any area I encourage them. If not I dont' stress. Most of the mothers I meet USED to be cheerleaders, dancers or gymnist. I dont' think any less of them now when they can't do a back handspring.


Of course it's possible to raise an Andre Agassi or a Tiger Woods by starting a child very young--as their fathers did--if the child has the requisite physical makeup. A mother has to learn where encouragement stops and harassment begins. My kids had a little talent but they didn't have the interest in developing it further. But they're happy adults, and that's what matters.

russian tiger mother

shrug. cant your kids be happy and overachievers at the same time? why the hell not?
i dont settle for mediocity in parenting.


All the semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent search from the MCPS either has a Chinese/Oriental last name or an Indian last name. Do you think these kids are not happy? It is the Asian culture to show tough love to kids and it has always worked for us.

Proud parent of an average child

It has been interesting to watch the fall out from this. I think people are trying to compare two different things - success in terms of achievement and success in terms of happiness. The Tiger mother seems to measure success in terms of achievement. It is worth considering that she focuses on only 1 or 2 things and does not try to create a Renaissance student. Watching the Race to Nowhere last week, I was struck by one student who identified the many ways a child is required to be successful now. The bar keeps getting raised higher and higher in a society where everyone is above average.


interesting perspective from Ray Fisman of Slate

Derrick Lin

I published a book in response to her. Its called "Tiger Mother Son of a Bitch". Lets see what she thinks of that.

Belstaff Chaquetas De Cuero

So cute! I already like you on FB and also get your posts on Google Reader. :)


I do not want to support Tiger Mom, but how many of the great athletes were pushed from infancy by their parents (usually fathers)? Andre Agassi's father hung a tennis ball mobile in his crib so he would learn to swing at them. Tiger Woods began golfing at three. How young did some ice skaters, gymnasts, ballet dancers start? For someone closer to home, google Washington pitcher Tyler Clippard and read some of the articles from when he was named to the All-Star team. His father gave all his time & lots of money (I'm sure) to give Tyler all the opportunity he needed to become an outstanding ball player. Maybe some people do need a Tiger Mom or Tiger Dad. But I think many are overestimating their children's talents and skills.

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