Thursday, March 17, 2011

Inatay "Roars" on Tiger Mom

"Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too."
                                                            Daughters, John Mayer

After watching BBC's feature on the the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and its author Amy Chua, my interest was immediately stirred. The book was released only last January 11 and already it has pushed a lot of people over the edge. As an Ina-Tay, I've become a cult follower of parenting books. I believe I need to have an early start so come the time I have an arsenal of how to parent Leia. So I searched the topic on Google and read's article.

In her book, Yale law professor and self-confessed "Tiger Mom", Amy Chua talked about raising her two daughters Sophia and Lulu the "Chinese way." So why the uproar you may ask. Well, picture this: she forced her then 7-year old daughter Lulu to practice a piece on the piano "right through dinner into the night" with no water or bathroom breaks until she learned to play it right. She also called her other daughter Sophia "garbage" when she acted disrespectfully. And she threw back a birthday card that her daughter drew and said. "I don't want this. I deserve better than this. So I reject this." According to Chua, this was also the way her parents raised her - with love and compassion, plus punishingly high expectations.

Parents all over the world, myself included were outraged with this rather harsh parenting style.  "The tiger mother's cubs are being raised to rule the world, the book clearly implies, while the offspring of "weak-willed," "indulgent" Westerners are growing up ill equipped to compete in a fierce global marketplace," the article explained.

Her stories of never accepting a grade lower than an A, of insisting on hours of math and spelling drills and piano and violin practice each day (weekends and vacations included), of not allowing playdates or sleepovers or television or computer games or even school plays, for goodness' sake, have left many readers outraged but also defensive. American parents particularly reacted about how she explained that the Western parenting styles resulted to the decline of the American culture and economy.

To put it in verbatim, Amy Chua believes that in order to raise strong, successful and competent children, parents should not be soft but instead set very high expectations and show displeasure when these aren't met. According to Chua, this propels children to try their best to please their parents until it gets ingrained into their system. When a child is trained to give her best, eventually it becomes automatic to move heaven and earth just to come up with a perfect result. I'm arithmetically challenged so I will not even try to discuss parenting vis-a-vis the economy for fear of a nose bleed. But I will put my two-cents worth about the fuss.

My brother and I were also disciplined when we were growing up. Dad specifically would get his leather (yes, leather) belt and smack us in punishment. Mum would scold us and would refuse to talk. I think I got that from her. :) When people ask me about the welts on my legs I just tell them my Dad spanked me because I was bad. Forgive my indulgence but my parents too were the first to realize I was "above average". I never had a Barbie doll when I was a kid but I had Nancy Drews and other books to read as gifts. If we want toys, Ton-ton and I had to save up for it. I grew up wanting to please my parents, wanting to be the best but they never called me or my brother "garbage" or any spirit-crushing criticisms. We grew up being confident of our abilities yet we also learned to accept that the world doesn't revolve around us.

I will not judge my parents for the way they disciplined us but looking back I think they lacked the "resolution" and "affirmation" part of discipline. In another book that I read (see I told you I'm a parenting book fan) it sad that after spanking the child, the parent must explain why he/she was punished ad why it should not be done again. Then affirm that you still love your child despite and inspite of.

Like a majority of parents, I'm very generous with my praises for Leia. At 1 and a half, I can see how powerful my affirmations are based on the way she smiles when I clap my hands or say "good girl!" when she obeys. Contrary to Ms Chua's view on parenting, I promised myself never to hurt Leia with my words. I may spank or scold her but I will explain to her what made me do it. She has to understand what discipline is, that every wrong action will not be tolerated. I want her to be successful whatever it is she wants to do for as long as it's legal, I want her to feel loved and appreciated and wanted. Of course any parent would want their kids to be the best, but I will not demand perfection from her because I myself am not perfect. I will never call her "garbage" or inflict harsh punishment on her as it may scar her for life.

I think no parent is alike, we are shaped individually by our own parents and how we were reared. But a universal fact remains - each parent is a "tiger" mom or dad; I am a tiger mom. I am willing to crush anyone who will try to hurt my child, I will not spare my wrath on any being who would take away her away from me. I am her biggest fan and she is the heir to my stilletos.



  2. Dear Anonymous,

    Sure, if the shoe fits. :) hehehe