It happened to me… I read this tiger mom post on xoJane, and it did nothing but annoy the shit out of me. If you haven’t heard of the tiger mom parenting philosophy, it was popularized by Amy Chua when her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was published in 2011. This was a book that set out to explore the Chinese parenting philosophy of “tiger parenting” and how it compared to us softie Westerners.
xoJane delved deeper in a post written by a child that was proud to be raised by a tiger parent. The anonymous author identified a tiger parent as one who “set enormously high and unreasonable expectations for [their] kids.” Well, that turned me off right away. Technically, my first reaction was not to eat my young—but I feared that a tiger mom on the playground might eat them if they didn’t slide down the slide in perfect formation.
The author went on to say that stereotypical kids of tiger parents aren’t allowed a late curfew, they’re forced to do extra credit even with straight A’s, and they rarely ever hear the words “well done.” This tiger-like behavior is also referred to as authoritarian parenting.
The post author is Jamaican-Chinese and was raised by a second-generation immigrant father that was considered a tiger parent. The author admits to having issues, but she defends her childhood as a “tiger cub” and says she’s the better for it. The author also admits that she wasn’t raised as a full on tiger kid. Maybe if she was, she’d be singing a different tune.
In today’s world, parents are allowed to raise their kids any way they please, but the idea of iron-fisted tiger parenting freaks me out. I was raised somewhat authoritarian in a religious home with strict rules. Maybe I’m riddled with childhood issues, but I always think of how those rules made me feel (shameful, lonely, frustrated, etc.) every time I go to discipline my kids.
I’m not a totally permissive parent because I think that is also harmful to a kid. My toddler loves boundaries and routine, and he freaks out if we give him too much leeway. Though that hardly makes me a tiger parent.
Tiger parenting as I hear it takes all the fun out of having kids. I can speak from personal experience when I say that kids that are forced to meet strict expectations often struggle with self-esteem for the rest of their lives. If a tiger parent can boast that their kid got into an Ivy League college, good for them. I’d rather my kid be so-so and have a good time doing it. Rar.
(photo: Getty Images)