Every January, as I prepare myself for another school year, my mind drifts back to 2013, when my oldest son was about to start kindergarten. With three kids under six years old and pregnant with number four, I was deep in the trenches of babies and toddlers. I was also trying to determine what type of parent I wanted to be.
That Christmas, I was gifted the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Written by Yale Law School professor Amy Chua, the book was a memoir of Chua's strict and controlling parenting.
On reflection, I suspect it was given to me as a joke, but I digress.
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In the book, Chua writes, "The Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they're capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits, and inner confidence that no one can ever take away."
The Chinese way of parenting, or tiger parenting as named by Chua, is based on setting high expectations and providing a rigid structure, routine and support to achieve greatness.
To say I inhaled the book is an understatement. I read and re-read it; I probably even took notes. Despite the scathing reviews of Chua's book and parenting style, I loved the idea of raising successful, determined children with a hard work ethic.
Why did it appeal so much? I could imagine the structure and well-defined goals gave the kids a laser-sharp focus. I could see how they would learn to be productive, responsible, and want to succeed.
But was it the panacea of parenting? I had so many questions... did I really want to decide the goals for my children? Would their self-worth only be linked to winning? Was I likely to cause anxiety and depression parenting this way? If I was going to be really honest, I wasn't sure I had the time, energy or tenacity to see it through.