Top Ten Reasons You Must Be a Tiger Mom or Your Kids will Grow up to be Losers
Alright, moms. It’s time to toughen up. In her controversial book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom, Amy Chua explores the difference between American softy parenting versus Chinese strict parenting as her children grow up in the U.S. under her watchful gaze. Her own parents had been pretty rough: no boyfriends, no sleepovers, constant drilling, and a “that’s not good enough” for an A-minus. Since Tiger Mom believes her parents instill hard work and guide her towards success, she supports their methods and inflicts them upon her own two daughters.
I say “inflict” because these methods aren’t all cushy and sweet, and they’re definitely not typically American, despite Chua’s claims that they can be. When her daughter Lulu tries to learn a piano piece, “The Little White Donkey,” Chua tells her it’s got to be perfect by the next day. While Lulu struggles to get it, Chua carries her dollhouse to the car and threatens to give it to Salvation Army piece by piece. She threatens her with no lunch, dinner, or presents for two to four years. Then she calls her “lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic.” But here’s the thing. Afterwards, when her daughter does get it, she’s beaming and proudly playing the piece over and over. She’s earned her self-esteem—it wasn’t just handed to her.
Although Amy Chua has gotten embroiled in some controversy for some of her parenting methods, like the one above, the truth is that Americans have been too easy on their kids. That’s why we’ve got an obesity epidemic and kids moving back into their parents’ houses at a record pace and the most complainy, spoiled children in the entire world. Let’s take a page out of Chua’s book and drill our kids back up to snuff.
10. Tiger Momming Teaches Kids the Power of Work Ethic.
Unless Mommy and Daddy are cool with coddling you your whole life, you’re going to have to learn the value and power of work ethic. American kids these days might not be getting enough of this lesson with parents who praise them for thirty minutes of violin practice rather than 2-3 per day, for instance. Amy Hsin and Yu Xie took the Tiger Mom seriously and studied the academic advantage of Asian-Americans over whites. It wasn’t higher intellect and greater socio-economic status. Even recent immigrants with less financial and social support tended to do better than U.S. born-and-raised students.
Here’s the takeaway:
Asian-American youth are more likely to attribute intellect and academic success to effort rather than innate ability… That’s a natural outgrowth of the belief that success – in school, in work, and in life — is a meritocratic commodity; the more you put in, the more you get out. When quizzed about whether they thought math skills were innate or learned, most of the white students believed it was a skill you were born with while the Asian-Americans were more likely to think it was learned, and acquired with effort.
It’s simple: hard work pays off. Drilling this into our kids isn’t such a bad idea, after all. Elephant Moms, those who coddle their children, could learn something from the Tiger Moms.
9. It Takes 10,000 Hours to Master Anything.
In his book Outliers, creative nonfiction writer Malcolm Gladwell asserts that it takes about ten thousand hours to master any field. He’s not just pulling this number from thin air—research supports it.
For instance, violinists in Berlin were studied for their practice habits throughout their lives. They were asked: “Over the course of your entire career, ever since you picked up the violin, how many hours have you practiced?” All had started around the age of five, but by age twenty, elite players had spent more than 10,000 hours, whereas less-talented players averaged in around 4,000. Tiger Mom wasn’t crazy when she forced her kids to practice their instruments incessantly—her daughter Sophia ended up playing piano at Carnegie Hall by age fourteen.
But maybe you’re thinking, “What about natural talent? Haven’t you seen those kids who just effortless have it?” Studies say nope. There were no violinists who spent less time practicing who rose to the top. It was all about their work ethic and time put into developing true, deserved talent.
What no one talks about when they complain about Tiger Mommery is that kids who practice this hard eventually fall in love with what they’re doing. What was once work becomes pleasure. Think about it: what’s something you do all the time? And how can you do it more often? In a couple of years, you’ll be an expert, too.
8. The Proof is in the Pudding: Studies Support the Tiger Mom.
Although Tiger Moms can be pretty intense and Americans are all about loving on their kids, the proof stands: Tiger Moms are good at what they do, and they get results, too. Alyssa Fu of Stanford recently shared a study with the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.
High school students, when asked to describe their mothers, had uniquely different answers. Whereas Americans described their mothers as individuals, Asian-Americans described their mothers in relation to themselves; they focused on their connection rather than their individual qualities. According to Fu, “For Asian-Americans, they are seeing themselves as connected in some way to their mothers. Not even just connected, but their mother is part of who they are.”
Despite concerns that Tiger Moms are too hard on their kids and put too much pressure on them, their children report that they feel just as supported as American kiddos, and they don’t view pressure their parents put on them as a negative thing. Rather, they feel even more driven to succeed. In fact, Asian-Americans who thought of their mothers before completing difficult puzzles were more successful than Asian-Americans and Americans who only thought of themselves. This shows that their relationship with their mothers is actually a motivating force stronger than simply thinking of themselves.
7. A Coddled Child is an Unsuccessful Child.
Psychology Today makes a simple yet powerful statement: “Research says we should let children do difficult things.” In other words, we should stop coddling them so much. Helicopter Moms, the type of moms who hover over their children excessively and focus on development of positive self-esteem rather than hard work and success, aren’t getting their children anywhere by protecting them from the very real realities of pain, disappointment, and failure. Children who have been coddled grow into adults who expect to be coddled, who expect the world to hand them everything on a silver platter with barely any work or effort at all. As Westerners are coddling their children, Asian-Americans are teaching their children that hard work is necessary for results and that effort is how talent develops. It’s simply not in-born.
Here’s what happens when children are raised to believe they’re special and praised for every little thing they do:
- Their desire to put in effort to succeed is reduced.
- Their ability to self-regulate is reduced, as they don’t get to challenge themselves.
Children who are handed high self-esteem literally aren’t given a chance to develop themselves as individuals, which is pretty funny since Americans are supposedly all about the individuality of their children. Children who work for their self-esteem, on the other hand, develop into strong, self-reliant individuals ready to take on the world once they’ve grown into adults.
6. Do You Want a Fat Child?
There’s this movement called Body Peace. And it’s allowing our kids and teenagers to embrace their bodies even when they’re out of control, overweight, and even obese. This doesn’t happen when Tiger Moms are in charge. It simply doesn’t happen. If you want a fat child, be an Elephant Mom. If you want a child who’s in top shape physically and mentally, opt for Tiger Mom status. Tiger Moms would never let their children eat unhealthily or slack off on exercise. Both of these are important aspects of raising a child that Americans have begun to neglect.
According to the Nevada State Health Division and University of Nevada-Las Vegas, around one in three kindergarteners is overweight or obese. This is “despite an ever-growing, taxpayer-funded Nanny State that intervenes in children’s lives through health care programs, wellness education and school meal subsidies.” Review Journal offers a simple explanation: “Back off, give kids the freedom to play like kids and see where that gets us.” I’ve got a better piece of advice: Put your fist down. Enroll your kids in sports and exercise programs after school. Don’t let them skip out on gym or fail. Tiger Mom it up. Because you don’t want a fat loser on your hands.