It’s amazing how many people are commenting on the controversy sparked by the book about eastern parenting styles called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Like most people, I have no experience raising teenagers girls of Chinese decent in America and did not read the book – but read an excerpt called “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”- and some of the reaction are taking on a life of their own.
The theme of the debate is not whether tigers eat their young but instead can be simplified as: eastern (discipline, academics, and obedience) verse western (self-esteem, independent thinking, play) methods of parenting.
In the 1980s, there was a mystique surrounded the principles of “Japanese management,” and today we start to look toward Chinese values (could happen #3) because of the mystique surrounding China’s Asian miracle of growth and lifting their people out of dire povertyis admired. It’s also amazing to watch a sprouting bamboo grow an astonishing 24 inches a day in the spring, but this is unsustained and the plant levels off before summer.
There is not a single method for parenting and most reach a healthy balance between being demanding and being permissive, with an aim not to prepare children for our world, but for the world they will live in. Criticism can be constructive, but it can also stifle creativity and be destructive. Use of creativity is needed by young adults to adapt to a world that will change beyond their parent’s imagination. Asia has not changed for centuries but is rapidly changing now. I wonder what kind of upbringing those leading the change in China had. Continuing with traditional parenting prepares children for a world that is confined to (could happen #1) museums.
Perhaps a controlled upbringing with traditional Chinese values, may have been the best way to prepare a child for an agrarian/manufacturing society where collective rights are valued more than individual rights. Of course academics and discipline matter, but so does developing self-esteem and independent thinking to adapt to an unpredictable future. So do you stake-and-tie your tomatoes or let your chickens run free? What do you think?