Okay, so I realize that I am completely behind the times here, but I just found out about this whole "Tiger Mom" thing. In case, like me, you are also behind the times, let me enlighten you: Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother is a book that came out in January by some psycho Yale Law Professor named Amy Chua. It is the memoirs of this Asian-American woman about how she raises her 2 daughters to be superior to your kids. She makes them practice the piano and the violin for 6-7 hours a day, do math and spelling drills for 2-3- hours a day, no TV, no phone, no internet, no sleepovers, no birthday parties, no dates, NOTHING because "its all about their happiness," and they can't be happy without being successful. She believes that academic success is equivalent to successful parenting and that a kid's self esteem means nothing because kids "owe everything to their parents" and should spend their lives living up to their expectations and trying to make them proud.
Critics have raised arguments both for and against "Tiger Mom" stating that the fact that China continually outpaces the US in National test scores clearly demonstrates that the hard-line academic standard that Eastern parents impose on their children is working much better than "the laissez-faire indifference and babysitting-by-TV which too often passes for parenting these days." She defends her parenting style in which she calls her daughter "garbage" and throws a handmade Mother's Day card back at her child for not being good enough by saying that she is encouraging them to never settle for less than their very best.
I'm sorry, but I call bulls***.
I am working on my own memoir which I will entitle "Sloth Mom" and it will be all about the free range parenting style where kids learn to fend for themselves at an early age by scavenging for Pop Tarts and get lavished with praise for simple (yet completely practical) things like putting their shoes on the right feet and flushing the toilet. At our house, parents help but don’t hover. Kids are encouraged to take responsibility for themselves, develop their own personalities and interests and succeed on their own merit. [FYI -- I learned a lot about sloths while researching for this post, and I'll do a post in the future about how most normal moms are like sloths....so, yeah, look for that.]
Her kids may be playing piano and violin at Carnegie Hall, but my kids will be inventing new instruments, writing plays, and whatever the hell else they want to do because I fostered imagination and built their self esteem to convince them that they COULD do anything. Her kids will not be allowed to pursue careers that don't require a doctorate degree and it will not matter if that isn't what they want to do because she has raised them to believe that they have to please HER and SHE has decided what will most please her is for them to be miserable. My kids on the other hand, know that I will be pleased with whatever they do as long as they are happily living somewhere other than MY house. She threatens to take her kid's toys to the Salvation Army, to cancel Christmas, and refuses them food, water, and bathroom breaks in order to get results and I promise my kids trips to Sonic and the movies, or candy. We both get results, but the difference is that my kids don't hate me. Her daughters, now 15 and 18, swear by their mother's parenting style and say that they never felt unloved or abused. Really? Not even when she threw that card back in your face saying "I reject this. I do not want anything from you if it is not your absolute best work"? THAT didn't make you feel just a little unloved?!
Now, anyone who knows me (or reads my blog) knows that I do not coddle to my kids -- they get punished when necessary (sloths have some pretty wicked claws, in case you didn't know). I do not sugar coat life for them -- I tell it to them straight, with a hint of sarcasm, in a way they will understand it. If I have to explain math to William in terms of X-Wing Fighters lost, or number of droids produced, then that's what I do. If I need to let Bella do her independent study project on Justin Beiber to encourage her to do research and write well, then I do. If I need to convince Lorelei to eat her vegetables by letting her eat it like a puppy, then I do. And if I need to bribe Jackson with candy to keep him from peeing in his underwear, then that's what I do. Because I AM THE MOM. I am not the drill sergeant, I am the Mom. I do what I have to do to make my kids healthy, happy, functioning members of society. There will be time enough for them to face the harder things in life, (like when they're older than 10) and I hope that by NOT taking life so freakin' seriously when they are kids, they will learn NOT to take it too seriously when they are adults. I don't want them to burn out on life at 22 and come live in my basement. I want them to know their strengths, work on their weaknesses and accept what cannot be changed. If I expect them to be the best at everything all the time, then they will be disappointed and I will too. Oh, and since I'm criticizing, I think it is a little premature for her to be tauting her parenting memoir before her kids are even legal adults. Our job as parents is not to have perfect kids -- it is to raise responsible adults. If I take on all of the responsibility (deciding what they will do, telling them how to do it , and forcing them to do it and re-do it) then they WILL NOT be responsible OR independent.
So here is all I expect: Put God at the center of your life. Love and respect me, your dad and each other. Show others the respect and courtesy you would like to receive from them. And do your best at whatever you do. If they follow those simple instructions, then their lives will be happy and fulfilling. Then they, and I, will be successful. Suck on THAT "Tiger Mom."