I’m sure you’ve heard about the new bestselling book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua, in which the author describes her parenting style, which includes threats, burning stuffed animals, withholding praise, not allowing play dates or sleepovers and daily multi-hour piano lessons, with the goal of raising smart, successful and disciplined children. The book and the online discussions about the book are fascinating, even for the shock value alone. In fact, although this book has become an instant bestseller, most parents seem horrified by Chua’s drastic techniques. I started to wonder if there was anything redeeming or useful in her book during a recent conversation with my daughter, Isabel.
Perhaps because of cabin fever after two weeks of numerous snow and sick days, Isabel has been going through a period of not listening and being disrespectful to me and my husband, Alec. For example, last night I had to ask Isabel seven times to get her PJs on and brush her teeth before she even moved. This morning, she whined about wanting to keep watching TV instead of going to Hebrew school. When Alec brought her home from Hebrew school, she was on her way to a “time out” in her room for not listening to him in the parking lot.
During lunch, I was telling my husband about the book when Isabel asked: “Who is the Tiger Lady? Is it a human mother or tiger? Is that non-fiction (her new favorite word)?” So I embellished a little and told Isabel all about this mom and how she treats her kids. First, Isabel asked questions about the mom and her kids, like, “Doesn’t she care if the kids don’t have friends?” I asked Isabel if she would like to have a mom like the “Tiger Mom,” and she got really worried. “What if she burned my stuffed animals? What if my piano teacher was mean? If she were my mom, I’d never be able to watch Disney!”
And then my favorite line: “Mom, I’m lucky I have you. I don’t want a mom like that.” Hopefully Isabel will remember this before she chooses not to listen to me again!