Ferocious tiger mother scars her own children

February 5, 2011 — by David Eng

B+. The dreaded grade that strikes fear into the hearts of Chinese mothers, right?

In an excerpt from her novel “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” published in the Wall Street Journal titled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” Yale law school professor Amy Chua depicts the so-called “tiger mother,” who dauntlessly precludes her children from attending sleepovers, participating in school plays, earning any grade lower than an A, etc. Since its Jan. 8 publication, Chua’s article has polarized the public, leaving a grocery list of crazy-blogging Western mothers up in arms. This article figures to be particularly pertinent at Saratoga High, given the high Chinese population on campus.

While the tiger mother’s heart seems to be in the right place, her unrelenting motivation tactics are unnecessary and potentially deleterious to the development of her child.

The heart of the problem:

The tiger mother’s intentions are infallible. She does what she does in order to protect her progeny from the pitfalls of “Western” life: her daughters from teenage pregnancies and her sons from drug addictions and just being plain old losers.

What Chua and like-minded parents fail to understand is that setting such rigid regulations demoralize and ultimately discourage a child’s academic progress. Why would a boy learn his multiplication tables when his mother’s ire simply awaits him at long division? And why acquire long division skills when shrieks of “incompetent baffoon” accompany derivatives and integrals?

Such is the tiger mother’s inexorable pursuit of her prey. But here’s the truly intriguing question: What happens when the tiger mother isn’t frantically yanking her child’s ear anymore? Will they continue to prance about the forest of education or will they simply lack the self-motivation necessary to plod forward?

Essentially, the tiger mother believes that the ends justify the means. In other words, she approves of the unrelenting castigation of her son albeit he grows up to be a doctor, lawyer or Indian chief. Such a ideology is not only outrageous, but also ineffective.

What the tiger mother creates:

The tiger mother also fails to realize that given enough time, her prey will retaliate. God forbid a disputatious child. One of Chua’s most egregious displays of disciplinary action is her inventive yet conquerable “no bathroom until you learn this piano piece” policy. Such a transparent method may intimidate the naive child into submission. But given enough beatings, a child well-versed in the art of parental rebellion, would stubbornly throw proper etiquette down the toilet and make a statement right there.

This instance may be hypothetical but is well within the realm of possibilities given the tiger mother’s unrelenting struggle to bend her child to her will. The situation further escalates when the tiger mother grows frustrated with her child’s insolence. And would the mother continue to lambaste her child? Probably.

Saratoga Scope:

Assessing the validity of such a volatile parenting policy is difficult indeed, given the consistent success that the approach seems to engender. The Asian child’s dominance in the classroom is particularly evident at Saratoga High, where the valedictorian has been of Chinese or Indian ethnicity for four consecutive years. In addition, of last year’s 27 National Merit Finalists, over three-quarters were Asian.

Not all of these high performing students have tiger mothers, but that’s not to say they are mutually exclusive either.

Saratoga High most definitely has its fair share of tigresses prowling its campus. These are the parents ensuring their sons and daughters become president of 20 clubs, overwhelming Mrs. Fong with their children’s summer internship packages and stressing out counselors by enrolling their progeny in almost 10 AP classes by junior year.

The fact that the tiger mother goes to such extremes to help her child succeed at least shows she cares. But in the end, the implacable beatings to which she subjects her children are damaging and inexcusable.

That said, my inner-ABC slacker strongly disapproves of the tiger mother’s radical parenting methodology.

By no means do I consider myself a competent Chinese mother (and I’ll never have to be one, thank god), but when it comes to parenting, the ABC slacker knows best.

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