Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tiger Mom

"Another woman with strong, sometimes crazed opinions but who definitely does not watch any television – or certainly doesn't let her children watch any – is Tiger Mother. The other night, we came face to clavicle (she is very short). Amy Chua, author, law professor and famously hectoring mummy, was in London for an Intelligence Squared debate where she argued for the motion: "Western parents don't know how to bring up their children."

In the pre-debate count, 100 voted for her, 300 against. By the end, she had completely turned the numbers around: more than 300, including me, voted for the motion. Did she threaten to make us practise the piano for 15 hours or complete 2,000 equations before bedtime unless we voted for her? Disappointingly, no. Instead, she revealed herself to be less Tiger Mother, more pussy cat.

Her views are actually oddly balanced. To her credit, she didn't complain about the hype surrounding her book (more than one million copies sold). She simply revealed the title of the Chinese translation: Parenting by Yale Law Professor: Raising Kids in America. Over there, they are marketing her as Cuddly Mom.

She argues that neither western nor Asian parents have got it right. In the west, she says, we are too keen to be friends with our clidren. We need to give them expectations to live up to. In China, parents are too over-invested in their children's success. In the end, though, the opposition won the case for her. Frank Furedi, speaking against the motion, argued that we should all stop judging other people's parenting. So she's strict and others are liberal, so what? Enough comparing ourselves with others.

At the party afterwards, I had a question for Chua. "Isn't this really a debate about our fear of our children hating us? After all, most people secretly hate their parents – and children need something to kick against." The Tiger Mother's fangs finally emerged. Serenely chic, the picture of the American dream, she looked me up and down pointedly and replied: "People who lead successful lives have nothing but love for their parents."

Thrilled to have provoked the beast, I returned to my failed existence, happy in my British misery."

via The Guardian

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