Tiger Moms vs. Western Moms

by: hawkgrrrl

February 15, 2011

A recent article in Time talks about a new parenting book that has quickly risen to the top of the bestseller lists:  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  The book is controversial but also provides some valuable insights from the East about the way we parent in the West.

Author Amy Chua is revered for instilling her daughters with ambition and self-confidence but reviled for doing it by creating an inflexible, no-holds-barred environment in which lack of effort from children can result in verbal humiliation.  Here are a few of Chua’s observations about parenting:

  • “To be perfectly honest, I know that a lot of Asian parents are secretly shocked and horrified by many aspects of Western parenting,” including “how much time Westerners allow their kids to waste — hours on Facebook and computer games — and in some ways, how poorly they prepare them for the future.  It’s a tough world out there.”
  • When her husband defended one of her daughters for not being skilled at the piano:  “Oh, no, not this,” Chua shot back, adopting a mocking tone: “Everyone is special in their special own way. Even losers are special in their own special way.”
  • “I see my upbringing as a great success story,” she says. “By disciplining me, my parents inculcated self-discipline. And by restricting my choices as a child, they gave me so many choices in my life as an adult. Because of what they did then, I get to do the work I love now.”
  • American parents go too far in insulating their children from discomfort and distress. Chinese parents, by contrast, she writes, “assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.”
Hara Estroff Marano agrees with Chua. “Research demonstrates that children who are protected from grappling with difficult tasks don’t develop what psychologists call ‘mastery experiences,’ ” Marano explains. “Kids who have this well-earned sense of mastery are more optimistic and decisive; they’ve learned that they’re capable of overcoming adversity and achieving goals.” Children who have never had to test their abilities, says Marano, grow into “emotionally brittle” young adults who are more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.
Of course, in Chua’s case, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  This parenting style may seem harsh to us, but it is also the way she was raised.  “When Chua took her father to an awards assembly at which she received second prize, he was furious. “Never, ever disgrace me like that again,” he told her.”  Ouch.  But Chua defends her parents’ style:  “They didn’t think about children’s happiness,” Chua says. “They thought about preparing us for the future.”

Is Chua right that Westerners are too soft and touchy-feeling resulting in underachieving children who are almost universally behind Asian children academically?  Or are Westerners right with our participation awards, “A” for effort attitude, and seven “attaboys” for every criticism?  Is there truth to the notion that American kids can’t handle the truth, that their minimal efforts are simply not good enough to compete in a global market against countries with more at stake and significantly more work ethic?

It has been said that there are two parental philosophies:  the nurturing parent and the critical parent.  Often, parents will “tag team” in a sort of good cop / bad cop relationship.  If one parent is more critical, the other often compensates with a more nurturing style.  If either parent goes too far to the extreme, it can make the other one go far in the other extreme direction, resulting in a very lopsided, mixed-message parenting style.

Within our own minds, we also have an internal nurturing parent and critical parent.  The critical parent tells us when we fall short, when we didn’t do our best work, or when we have done something wrong.  The nurturing parent tells us we’re good enough, we’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like us. Now let’s go get that ice cream because we deserve it!  Often parents who go to an extreme in parenting have an “internal” parent that is extreme as well.

How do you find balance as a parent, with or without your spouse?  If you are not a parent, how do you balance your own inner nurturing and critical parent voices?

Do you think Amy Chua is right, that Americans are falling behind academically because parents are too coddling and don’t expect much from their kids, so their kids only do the bare minimum required?  Are there benefits (the article suggests creativity and innovation) to our lax Western parenting style?  Do you think Tiger Moms are monsters or winners or something in between?  Based on a loose reading of the Old Testament, I suspect God may be a Tiger Mom.  Discuss.

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58 Responses to Tiger Moms vs. Western Moms

  1. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 15, 2011 at 5:30 AM

    Last year my daughter was in a grade school with 20% Caucasian, and the rest tiger moms or Indian. She tested two standard deviations above the norm in math and was running 100% in the class (they run grades on %tiles here).

    She was not allowed in the math enrichment class because it would have displaced a tiger mom’s son.

    The IB program in the school district has had all of the Hispanic and Black children run out of it, regardless of grades. The only White female who qualified to start it and planned to start it next year just dropped out to avoid the harassment.

    I’m not the person to ask about tiger moms. All they do is inspire their kids to wrap up empty boxes, give them to my daughter as a present and then mock her as she opens the boxes in order to try to “compete” with her.

    No surprise that she quit doing homework this year to drive her math grades down.

    You can tell what I think of the tiger mom community. I see them as walking, talking hate crimes.

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  2. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 15, 2011 at 5:34 AM

    On the IB program, I know the girl’s father having served with him at church in callings, having invited his family over to dinner with ours.

    Not to mention when my other daughter was one of two white girls who was invited to the TI Engineering summer camp for girls, it was the children of tiger moms who tried to physically block her from entering the room.

    The down side of the approach is a “win at any cost” and “it is fair to racially harass the outsiders” meme that also seems to be at the core of what they are doing. Amy Chau is a revered cheerleader for that type of behavior (who knew or should have known that is exactly what her words would be taken to embrace and that is what the culture promotes).

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  3. AdamF on February 15, 2011 at 5:40 AM

    It seems to me just one extreme on the other end of the spectrum. I think parents should discipline as needed, scaffold their kids and promote their independence and growth… not keeping them from consequences that could teach a lot, not always giving them immediate relief from discomfort. These “Tiger Moms” (or at least how they’re being portrayed) just take all that TOO far, in contrast to these “Western mom’s” which apparently let their kids do anything.

    Frankly, I think it’s a stereotype played to extremes so Mrs. Tiger Mom can sell books. Stephen’s experience is new to me though.

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  4. brjones on February 15, 2011 at 6:15 AM

    As with anything else, it depends on what your priority is. I think the tiger mom priority seems to be winning and a high degree of temporal success, and it seems to be at any cost. If your priority is to have a good relationship with your children and make sure they know you love them, then the tiger mom parenting style is not going to make much sense to you. I’m not personally acquainted with any tiger moms, but just from my exposure, it appears that having a personal relationship with one’s child and having one’s child know you love him or her is far, far down on the priority list, and may actually be seen as a negative.

    Is the result of this that western children do not succeed in academics and other temporal pursuits at the same rate as eastern children? That seems to be the case. That said, it seems to me you can still strike a reasonable balance between success and having a happy, love-filled childhood, as long as being the best at absolutely everything is not a must. If you believe in moderation in all things, or even in anything, I don’t think you’ll find the tiger mom model to be much of a threat.

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  5. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 15, 2011 at 6:19 AM

    Ok, you are a kid, told you have to be #1. You go to school on the week-ends to prepare in math and related subjects. You are competing with a blond (who you have been taught that blond jokes are the truth, not humor).

    She plays every day. Gets her homework done at school in her free time. Does not study over the week-ends. She blows you out of the water regularly in your “strong” subjects. (a typical report card would be 100 in three subjects, including math and science, 98 and 97 to round out the classes — 5 high As).

    Your parents could excuse you coming in close to another tiger mom child, but to a blond, and a blond girl at that? So the blond girl becomes the focus of tiger mom child hate.

    I remember a parents meeting for the gifted and talented program. One of the other fathers tried to push me a little about how my daughter had been excluded from the math program. When he realized she was still getting 100% in math and I thought it was ok that she had more time to play, he ran away across the room from me.

    It has been an interesting experience. I’ve decided that rather than be angry at the coordinated verbal and occasional physical violence aimed at my child, and the way it has made doing her homework something she has tried to avoid this year, I will only be angry at the Yale law professor who espouses the way publicly.

    The rest are just idiots consumed by the blindness of their culture (the “sins of the fathers” so to speak). And 5th and 6th graders are just kids.


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  6. Frecklefoot on February 15, 2011 at 6:28 AM

    I kind of freaked when I read an article by Chua promoting her new book. I thought we had been raising our children wrong for 18+ years. We DO let our kids watch TV, play video games, play with friends and sometimes loaf. After I read the article, I didn’t think there was any way our kids could compete with kids raised like Chua’s were. I didn’t agree with the verbal abuse, but you can’t deny what her kids have accomplished and all the scholarships they’ve been offered.

    But then a friend told me about Asia Carrera. She was raised by a Tiger Mom like Chua and had accomplishments similar to Chua’s daughters (played at Carnegie Hall when she was 15, excelled academically, etc.). But she felt so pushed to excel at all costs that she ran away from home at 17 and became a pornographic actress. No joke (you can read about her on Wikipedia).

    On the other hand, how was Bill Gates raised? Also he was a college drop-out. It didn’t stop him from sky-rocketing to the top.

    So there are tales of success and failure on both sides of the parenting spectrum. I’ll just live with the consequences of my parenting choices, for good or bad, and hope my kids don’t grow up to resent me.

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  7. Frecklefoot on February 15, 2011 at 6:34 AM

    In response to having a close, personal relationship with your children, Chua swears that she does have close relationships with her daughters, despite her strict parenting style. And her kids have even come out and defended her because of all the criticism she got from her book.

    Of course, we have no idea what the truth really is, but I think it’s possible to drive your kids to excel without pushing down other kids. YMMV, I have never had a personal encounter with a Tiger Mom.

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  8. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 15, 2011 at 6:36 AM

    brjones, I think that study and practice are important. I very much agreed with the book _Talent is Overrated_

    But approach is important. I’ve known a number of Jewish kids whose mothers were similar, without the harshness of the tiger moms. They have been delightful children. In my part of Texas, at least, it is hard to beat Jewish kids as all around positive influences and a joy to have in school or the community.

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  9. rk on February 15, 2011 at 7:10 AM

    There is something very selfish about this “Tiger Mother” type of parenting. This type of parent uses their children to build themselves up so they can brag that their children are “the best.”

    A parent can have high expectations of their children without being harsh. In the end, harsh parenting backfires. There is a high rate of suicide and eating disorders among the children of these “tiger mothers.” I sure wouldn’t have wanted to be raised this way.

    I hope that my children with become good, kind, hard working and self reliant. If they happen to be the best at something fine, but it will have happened primarily through their own efforts and not mine.

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  10. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 15, 2011 at 7:35 AM

    btw, if you are raising brilliant children with real talent, I have a series of essays on the topic at http://www.adrr.com/srm/adjusting.htm

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  11. hawkgrrrl on February 15, 2011 at 7:46 AM

    Tiger Mothering is an extreme on a spectrum. That is no reason to defend our Western methods which often result in complacency and lower self-esteem when kids don’t experience the success that comes from hard work. Can we Westerners honestly say that our cultural extreme isn’t full of the flaws Chua and others like her are mocking? Who hasn’t noticed the tendency of Western parents to rescue their kids at the first sign of discomfort? It’s no wonder we’re falling behind academically and have difficulty competing in a global economy with those who are really willing to work hard to succeed.

    The criticism is worth a listen, even if it is just one extreme talking to another extreme. I imagine most of us are more moderate than either end of the spectrum described in Chua’s book. I cringed at her mocking statements that Westerners like to say that “everyone is special in their own special way.” Kids see right through things like participation awards. In our recent move, the kids had to determine which things would go to storage, which would come along, and which would go to trash. Participation awards and other “thanks for merely showing up” awards went in the trash – they didn’t value them. Kids are smart, and they know the difference between something they had to work for, and something they did not. I’m not advocating Tiger Parenting, but our Western ways are heading toward another extreme, and we should be on guard.

    On the flip side, though, Westerners do tend to be better at creativity and innovation (on the whole) than Easterners. Hard work will get you achievement, but cleverly trying to avoid hard work apparently drives innovation.

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  12. AdamF on February 15, 2011 at 7:50 AM

    “And her kids have even come out and defended her because of all the criticism she got from her book.”

    Of course they have. She’s their mother.

    I have worked with clients like this. They have excelled at everything. Academics, star athlete, musician, etc. etc. and their parents pushed them to the brink and they succeeded.

    They were also battling a nagging sense of depression, felt like they could never be or do enough, and some were prone to suicidal ideation when they couldn’t have control over some outcome in their lives.

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  13. Jeff Spector on February 15, 2011 at 8:00 AM

    “In my part of Texas, at least, it is hard to beat Jewish kids as all around positive influences and a joy to have in school or the community.”

    Here’s the differece. Jewish Guilt.

    If the Tiger mom says, “if you don’t do well, I will punish you. The Jewish Mom says, “If you don’t do well, it will kill ME.”

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  14. AdamF on February 15, 2011 at 8:04 AM

    What I would like to ask these Tiger Moms is, for what? What do they need to go to Yale law school for? What is better about being hypersuccessful than being something less than that? What might happen? Is this supersuccess a value of itself? Why is that? I would really like to know.

    One guess I have is that these Tiger moms have an extreme sense of fear or shame underlying all of this, and driving their kids to be CEOs helps them regulate it.

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  15. hawkgrrrl on February 15, 2011 at 8:42 AM

    Adam – I agree with you about the self-loathing underlying telling your kids something they’ve done is “garbage” or a “humiliation.” Not good parenting. But what do you make of the American permissiveness and tendency to make excuses? As a business person, I do worry about our ability to compete with much more ambitous nations. We are bested by other nations consistently in key industries in which we used to dominate: technologies, finance, and automaking. I’m not sure what amount is us losing footing or others gaining it, but it’s something we should be concerned about as a country.

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  16. AdamF on February 15, 2011 at 8:53 AM

    Permissive/laissez-faire parenting isn’t any good either… and can cause all kinds of problems.

    I think I just get annoyed by people who make all this money or get all this press by pointing out an extreme in society (e.g. Western kids are lazy and their parents are pushovers) and counter it with another extreme. Maybe my real annoyance is jealousy that they’re making money off of this process. :)

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  17. hawkgrrrl on February 15, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    Adam – if you write a book, I’m first in line to buy it!

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  18. Andrew S. on February 15, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    I agree with everyone who has pointed out that this is just one extreme to counter another.

    I think there are several *good* traits from Chua to adopt, and several *good* traits from “Western parenting” to adopt.

    For example, I think that many times, kids are fickle. They don’t want to persevere to success when things get hard. I know that for me, winning is everything. Most things aren’t fun for me unless I’m winning/comprehending/understanding. So, maybe it’s a GOOD thing to demand more…even when it seems that it’s making someone miserable. It’s GOOD for me to be miserable at losing at some game or failing to understand a concept because when I finally begin to improve, the victory/comprehension is far sweeter.

    My problem is that the parent doesn’t also need to decide what that is. The kid doesn’t *have* to be a pianist or violinist! Those aren’t the only instruments. I think that kids will have natural interests that they should be supported in…but then when they decide, “I want to do this,” they should be pushed to be the best they can at it.

    Additionally, I think you can still be really good at stuff, get your practice hours in, and have sleepovers and play dates. I don’t think you have to suck the fun out to schedule in rigorous training all the time.

    I remember in the NYTimes article that her husband said something about her not caring enough about her daughter when she forced her to practice so much. Chua responded, “No, I care so much about my daughter that I believe she can do this — even if she doesn’t.” I like that.

    My brother got her book (so I guess the sales pitch was a great success), so I’ll probably read it one of these days.

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  19. Starfoxy on February 15, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    There is something to be said for Laissez-faire though. I know far too many kids who crashed and burned their first year of college because they had never had to learn how to structure their own time, or how to make themselves do something. They always had their parents hovering around ready to crack the whip, and once they get a little bit of distance from their parents they go all to pieces.
    Though, I suppose one could argue that the tiger mothers are so extreme that their presence and disapproval is felt even when they are not immediately present.

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  20. brjones on February 15, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    I completely agree that we’re talking about extremes and that the ideal, in my opinion, is somewhere in between. That said, if I had to choose one extreme, I’d take the western extreme in a heartbeat.

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  21. Apmex on February 15, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    The whole point of this seems to be about competition. You compete with others. You either beat one person, or you lose. There are places for competition, but life itself isn’t a competition between me and you, or you and me, or me and the next 500 guys the world wants me to compare myself to.

    The same Hebrew terms for “desire” and “rule” that describe the tendency for marriage relationships in a our [fallen] world to deteriorate into a state of competition and rancor reappear in God’s warning to Cain: “Satan desireth to have thee. And thou shalt rule over him” (Moses 5:23).

    I think competition is good in some areas of life, but I neither want my own, nor my kids lives ruled by competition. People have a tendency to turn into self-righteous prigs when their worlds are ruled by competition – thinking everything is about winning, and only winning. We forget that many of life’s greatest achievements came because we either lost or failed miserably at something (I know that’s the case for me).

    And, to be honest, what’s the point of the tiger moms? Is it really to bring out the best in a person – to raise a child who is cooperative, loving, caring and full of the Spirit? Or, is it to raise a kid who fulfills the parents insecurities, who can win at all costs, who will get a 6-figure salary out college, who rise through the ranks of whatever corporation one works for, trampling others along the way all so that they can “win” at something?

    I have my doubts. And, to be fair, I do think western education is woefully lacking, but I don’t think the answer is for people to start pushing “tiger moms” on us.

    Is the gospel about cooperating with each other, or about competing with each other? Honest question.

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  22. AdamF on February 15, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    Starfoxy – I would categorize Laissez-Faire parenting as not only hands off, but no guidance either. Anything goes. Allowing your children to learn how to structure their own time or do stuff on their own is only laissez-faire (imho) if you don’t provide ANY scaffolding, or teaching, or guidance, or problem solving along the way. It borders on neglectful I think.

    For example, a laissez-faire approach to emotion might be, “Ohhhhhh, you’re sad? that’s too bad. It’s okay. You can be sad.”

    Tiger mom approach might be, “stop being sad. You have no reason to be. Now get out there and try again because I care so much about you.”

    I think a more authoritative approach might use a little of both, but in a better way: “You’re sad about this. That is okay” and THEN facilitate them solving the problem, according to their level of development.

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  23. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 15, 2011 at 11:36 AM

    I characterize my approach as benign neglect.

    Will see how it works in the long run.

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  24. AdamF on February 15, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    I should add to my #22 that in the laissez-faire approach to emotions, kids learn that whatever they’re feeling is okay (which is great!) but they are never given ways to regulate the emotions. In the t-mom approach, these kids learn that they can’t trust their feelings. In a more authoritative approach, kids learn that emotions are okay, and they are given ways to manage them.

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  25. Jeff Spector on February 15, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    I find that a majority of kids in this current generation seem to have less drive and ambition than previous generations.Looking at my own kids, they didn’t see much value in school despite how their mom and I pushed them to get decent grades. I used to tell them with good grades they had a lot of options, without they didn’t. And it has turned out to be true. But only a few of them seem to want to do anything about it. We will see. None can support themselves, by themselves at this point.

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  26. Will on February 15, 2011 at 1:04 PM


    We are raising cry-babies. I like the tiger way, but would add;

    1) The mother needs to be at home with the children where she belongs. This is the fundamental break-down of our society.

    2) While the mother needs to be there at the crossroads, kids need to fight their own battles.

    3) Trust, but verify. If we never trust them, they will never be trust worthy,

    4) Teach them correct principles, but we must let them govern their own lives. They should be free to make the choice, but not free of the consequences. This is where discipline should rein.


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  27. AdamF on February 15, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    Will, I agree with a lot of those principles. Just wanted to say that. :)

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  28. Dan on February 15, 2011 at 1:16 PM


    You agree with Will that the mother “belongs” at home an no place else?

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  29. Will on February 15, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    To Admin,

    Please create a rule in your code that automatically marks ‘thumbs down’ on anything I write, but disables Dan from marking ‘thumbs down’. This will save Dan the hassle of checking the thumbs down on my posts.

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  30. Thomas on February 15, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    You don’t need to have a “Tiger Mom” breathing down your neck to excel in the average dumbed-down American public school curriculum. All you need is a basic level of diligence, beyond which, all the psychotic regimentation and pressure has diminishing or negative returns.

    And assuming that basic level of do-your-homework diligence, all the Tiger Momming in the world isn’t going to make up for the difference between someone who has innate abiilty, and one who doesn’t. God has been highly unfair in the distribution of intelligence: He seems to give quick-witted kids to quick-witted parents. Even if only about half of intelligence (however you measure it) is hereditary and half environmental, that innate 50% is going to be decisive, if 90% of the environmental advantages to be gained are low-hanging fruit that a moderately dedicated parent can pluck without resorting to Tiger Momming.

    So Stephen M’s daughter — who, having a smart dad, is probably innately smart herself — schools some Tiger Mommed kids who probably just don’t have her intellectual chops. And their parents’ frantic efforts to squeeze the last 10% of influenceable ability out of their kids, aren’t enough to make up the difference. No wonder they’re mad.

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  31. Will on February 15, 2011 at 2:25 PM


    By the way, I wear your comments and thumbs down as a badge of honor.

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  32. Thomas on February 15, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    Added that the ability to check discrete, assigned tasks off a checklist is not necessarily what equips a person to identify a need and fill it.

    Tiger Momming is basically an outgrowth of the Chinese imperial system, where your job choices were either “peasant” or “official.” And the way you got to be an official, was not necessarily proving you knew effective management from a hole in the ground, but by scoring high on the civil-service exams — which were based on Confucian philosophy, which might or might not have any real bearing on the job being competed for.

    As a method for selecting the proverbial Man in the Gray Flannel Hanfu, to keep an unchanging order chugging along on its calcified course, this may or may not have been as good a method as any. For promoting the kind of civilizational dynamism you were going to need if you wanted to see off those pants-wearing barbarians showing up in steamboats and pushing heroin on your cousin, not so much.

    I don’t want America to be the kind of place where Tiger Momming provides useful advantage. That would mean that we had become the kind of society where that parenting style evolved — a top-down, centralized, stagnant place. Forget that. Give me some old-school New Englanders (or Mormons, which may be the closest thing available anymore.) All of the necessary diligence, less of the psychosis.

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  33. Steve on February 15, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    I understand about indecision, but I don’t care if I get behind. People living in competition. All I want is to have my piece of mind.

    R.I.P. Brad Delp

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  34. Dan on February 15, 2011 at 3:20 PM


    I gave you a thumbs up for your comment #31.

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  35. adamf on February 15, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    Dan – what are you after? Can’t a moderately conservative liberalish luke-warm guy and a pretty conservative guy agree once in a while in general, without immediately jumping to the one big boiling issue that no amount of discussion will change?


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  36. Dan on February 15, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    sorry Adam, I shouldn’t have commented there.

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  37. AdamF on February 15, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    No worries. I should have just pointed out what I agreed with rather than being all wishy-washy. I just have this thing about befriending people I previously haven’t had a chance to hit it off with, and Will was in that category. Not that he necessarily cares either way, lol.

    For the record, I can only speak for MY family, but my wife is home, and I really value that. She feels it’s where she belongs, and I support that. If she was working, I’d try to stay home if we could make it happen. I also agree that kids need to fight their own battles, while being scaffolded (is that a word?) by the parents. I also agree with trust AND verification. And his last point, that was pretty good too. :)

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  38. salt h2o on February 15, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    The TV Show The Middle last week was hilarious. The father (former janitor on Scrubs) had to volunteer to be at his 9 year old son’s valentine’s party. Frustraited with the situation and looking at the chaos he said something along the lines of,

    “Valentine’s Day is a holiday created by greeting card companies to get our money. You think Chinese kids are sitting around today sharing valentine’s?! No. They’re studying hard so that when they grow up they’ll be CEO’s of greeting card companies and sell us crap”

    I laughed hard- because dude, he had a point.

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  39. Will on February 15, 2011 at 5:07 PM


    Friendly. Me. My wife says I can come across sometimes as over-bearing; and, at times I can ne offensive. Of couse, I don’t see it.

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  40. Will on February 15, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    “be”…..big hands and I-phone keyboard are not always compatible.

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  41. hawkgrrrl on February 15, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    salt h20 – QFT!

    One additional point to note, Chua’s methods are not about whether the mother is in the home or working. Chua is raising her daughters to do whatever they are passionate about and to do it well, without dictating what that is. Will’s prescriptive views on the limited roles of womenfolk are well known in these parts, and he is entitled to his wrong opinions. But I too thumbs’d up comment #31.

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  42. Will on February 15, 2011 at 5:26 PM


    Wrong opinions?

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  43. AdamF on February 15, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    #42 is wrong… because HG is never wrong. Nor should HG be questioned. Nor spoken of.

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  44. Will on February 15, 2011 at 5:37 PM


    On a serious note, I resent the term limited role. I think the role a stay at home mom is by far the most important calling or role mortality. The most significant role my a mile.

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  45. hawkgrrrl on February 15, 2011 at 8:23 PM

    Will – valuing a woman’s choice to stay in the home is great. Saying it’s where she belongs or only speaking of women in terms of their benefit to others (men and children) is limiting. You could make the argument that all workers benefit other people, and yet we choose our life’s work for more than just that. We also seek personal development and fulfillment. Your descriptions of women’s work do not speak to me as a woman because you never seem to consider 1) a woman’s right to choose what is right for her, and 2) the impacts to women themselves as a result of their choices. Your portrayals consistently leave me with the impression that women are a highly valued commodity for the benefit of men and children.

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  46. Will on February 15, 2011 at 8:36 PM

    “Your portrayals consistently leave me with the impression that women are a highly valued commodity for the benefit of men and children”

    And? Hopefully, we are a highly valued commodity for women and children.

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  47. NewReader on February 16, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    As a new commenter, I’m appalled and disgusted at the hatred spewed by Stephen M. You sound incredibly fearful and resentful of the high-achieving Indian and Asian families in your daughter’s school. Did it ever occur to you that some parents are competitive and vicious and that it has nothing to do with race? I’m not excusing the seemingly awful behavior your daughters have had to deal with, but to attribute it to their race is just plain wrong. Shame on you for exhibiting the very same racism that you claim to be the victim of. And it’s pitiful that you don’t have the sense to see it. I guess by your (Stephen M’s) standards, I should assume that since the readers gave his comments a thumbs up that most Mormons are racist.

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  48. adamf on February 16, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    Stephen – looks like you triggered someone again.

    NewReader – I didn’t pick up the same thing from Stephen’s comments (i.e. it being about race), but being from a white, middle-class, background, not to mention being a man, I have been dense in the past at not seeing these things. Does it seem like to you that Stephen is saying that based on his experience with these so-called “Tiger moms” blocking his daughter from entering rooms and what not, that he is saying all, or most, Asian and Indian mothers are like this?

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  49. Thomas on February 16, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    “Appalled” is one of those words that instantly tells me I’m in the presence of a weak-minded poser.

    Did it ever occur to you that some parents are competitive and vicious and that it has nothing to do with race? I’m not excusing the seemingly awful behavior your daughters have had to deal with, but to attribute it to their race is just plain wrong.


    Leave that question for another day, provided that it hasn’t already caused your exquisitely sensitive head to explode. Let’s work instead on reading comprehension: Stephen did not attribute anything to anyone’s race. He made observations about a particular cultural mindset, which happens — in his, and the “Tiger Mom” author’s experience — to be particularly prevalent among certain Asian-American populations.

    Is that judgment inaccurate? Do you have some research that indicates that Chinese-American parents (for instance) tend, ON AVERAGE (we have to capitalize that phrase around the people who like to screech “RACIST!!!”, because they have a hard time processing the difference between an “average,” which looks at a whole population, and a “stereotype,” which assumes the individual must conform to the average, which of course is idiotic), are less, or no more, likely to value education, or to pressure their children to excel, than any other group of American parents?

    Gee, if that’s the case, then how on earth do we explain the performance disparities? Even when you control for economic status, the high-achieving East Asian categories absolutely clobber certain other groups, performance-wise. Again, how do you account for that? Hereditary native intelligence? (/sound of new guy’s head exploding again.)

    It’s probably already too late, but to keep new guy from calling me a racist, I will freely state that it is perfectly possible for a Japanese-American parent to be as thorough a slacker parent as my (part-Japanese) brother in law. There, I said it: The performance differences have nothing to do with race.

    But I strongly suspect I am more likely to find a “Tiger Mom” behind a Chinese-American student, than behind a student of another cultural background.

    If it is Wrong!! to believe this, explain to us why.

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  50. Will on February 16, 2011 at 4:57 PM


    You forgot to mention that we are sexist too. We have tried for almost 200 years to preach both racism and sexism. Our goal is to have a white, male dominated faith.

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  51. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on February 16, 2011 at 5:55 PM

    I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said “napalm sticks to tiger moms” just kidding I made that up… The Vietnamese dude that did the interior in my van had some insane work ethic though… I don’t know if his wife is a tiger mom, she did stab him in the arm halfway through putting the shag carpet in… set us back about a week..

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  52. LRC on February 16, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    Stephen M (Ethesis) – I often appreciate your comments around the Bloggernacle – you have experience and insight that is helpful for readers.

    And I am saddened to hear your daughter is the victim of bullies. As I am sure you know, bullies come in all shapes and sizes and they pick targets for lots of reasons. And the only thing worse than having a child be a bully’s target is having the bully’s parents backing up the awful behavior.

    And while this may be true (I don’t know if the non-blonde kids’ parents taught their children that or not): “Your parents could excuse you coming in close to another tiger mom child, but to a blond, and a blond girl at that? So the blond girl becomes the focus of tiger mom child hate.” and while it is certainly racist of them to say, your comments led me to believe that there’s a bit of a racist card in your hand as well (about which I may certainly – hopefully – be incorrect).

    I sincerely hope you’re not painting all high-achieving Asian/South Asian parents as the kind who would condone (or worse, encourage) bullying behavior.

    The least-asian/southasian school in our elementary district has 60% asian/Indian (most have 70-85%), and I’ve seen way more than my share of Tiger Mother types (and could never imagine being that extreme with my kids).

    The kids are competitive, yes, but they’re not bullies any more than any other part of the population are bullies.

    It seems you’ve run into a few particularly rotten apples.

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  53. NewReader on February 16, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    Thomas, If you hadn’t begun your comment by calling me a “weakminded poser,” I might be willing to engage you. Completely inappropriate.

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  54. Matthew Chapman on February 16, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    Hawkgrrrl: “Chua is raising her daughters to do whatever they are passionate about and to do it well, without dictating what that is.”

    I think you are giving Professor Chua too much credit. If one of her daughters were to become a millionaire rock star, or the first woman to play baseball in the American League, it would be as humiliating to her as winning second place.

    I have not read “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”, but my 17-year-old grandson has, and was mightily impressed– that this was not the way he wanted to raise his kids.

    There is a list of “nevers” rules in the book for Tiger Kids: Never Get Less Than An “A” Except in P.E. or Drama; Never Allow A Child to Go On Sleep-Overs; Never Allow The Child To Play Any Sport In Which He/She Cannot Win A Gold Medal; No Musical Instruments Except Piano Or Violin (Playing The Drums Leads To Drugs!) and on and on.

    Remarkably, my grandson has done every single thing on the “Nevers” list.

    He still has managed to maintain a 4.4 gpa (3.8 unadjusted) and people- adults and youth both- LIKE him.

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  55. Thomas on February 16, 2011 at 7:56 PM

    Thomas, If you hadn’t begun your comment by calling me a “weakminded poser,” I might be willing to engage you. Completely inappropriate.

    Dear Ms. Weak-Minded Poser:

    Think about that, next time you come out of the gate with all of your RACIST!!! guns blazing…at a good man who doesn’t remotely deserve being called a far worse thing than aa poser.

    I’ve always thought “inappropriate” is a weaselly weak-minded word, too.

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  56. hawkgrrrl on February 16, 2011 at 8:08 PM

    Matthew Chapman – “I think you are giving Professor Chua too much credit.” Actually, that was just what she said in response to the interviewer who questioned whether she was controlling which fields her daughters entered; I gave her credit in not stating that it was just her own view of her approach.

    However, I would only add that many people, not just Tiger Moms, base support for their child’s chosen profession on earning potential. So I might disagree that Chua would have a problem with a daughter who earned in the top tier of one of those less desirable fields, but she might have a problem with a daughter who was an “aspiring” actress or “aspiring” musician. I don’t think that makes Chua exceptional; that’s something a lot of parents from various cultures would feel.

    As my dad put it when I announced my intention to switch to a Philosophy degree, “That sounds like an incredible waste of time. I’m not sure I’m willing to fund such a venture.” I took that under advisement and decided I was better off with his funding & support than without it.

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  57. Apmex on February 16, 2011 at 9:51 PM


    I’m appalled by your inappropriateness. Don’t bring that weasly weak-mindedness to the ballpark without proper protection.

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  58. Douglas on February 20, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    What precisely about the “Tiger Mom” are we condemning?

    Is it the inflexibility? While one’s child is a unique individual and not a canvas on which to paint one’s unfilled desires, what DOES a child know about what she wants to do?

    Lack of tenderness? Was Dr. Chua dressing down her ten-y.o. the way the fictional GySgt Hartman dressed down Private “Gomer Pyle”, or was she simply telling her child that she IS worthy of only the best (e.g. future eight-cow wife)

    Interest in her child’s future? Would to “Gawd” that most US parents showed that level of interest!

    Strict and exacting? Well, hello, it’s a changing, competitive world,full of opportunities, but it’s not for the complacent (I’m lifting a line used by John D. Lancie’s “Q” from Star Trek, TNG) “If you can’t stand to get your nose bloodied…”

    While there are many things about Dr. Chua’s approach to child rearing that I’m not comfortable with, dedication to excellence and the strong interest in her daughters’ success I can only applaud. Perhaps there’s controversy because we know in many way’s she right and is actually doing us all service. Were Dr. Chua truly a racist, she’d keep her Tiger Mom “secrets” to herself and her Chinese associates. To lift another line from the Capt. Piccard character (same series and episode)..”Q might have done the right thing for the wrong reason, perhaps we need a good kick in our complacency to get us ready for what’s ahead…”

    For what’s ahead for America, I say God bless Dr. Chua and likewise the Good Lord save her children…

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