Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Watch Your Butt, Tiger Mom

What to think of the famous/infamous Tiger Mom (BATTLE HYMN OF THE TIGER MOTHER, by Amy Chua, Penguin Press)?

My own parents were tigerish, delivering frequent lengthy, impassioned, high-decibeled lectures whenever a grade short of A appeared on my report card. I'd never get into an Ivy League college, they warned me. Point of fact, they were were right - I was turned down by every Ivy League school I applied to. But Rutgers did well for me. I don't feel as if I've been a failure in life.

I think I was easier on my own kids. I hope so. Anything did not go, but a B or the occasional C was not a trigger for tearing of hair or rending of garments. My son majored in Ethnomusicology in college, my daughter in International Affairs, and both took several years to find their way to careers that engaged them. But at all times, they took responsibility for their lives, supporting themselves and seeming to enjoy themselves as they wandered toward goals they couldn't yet get a fix on. Not all those who wander are lost, right. Today, both kids are doing work they enjoy, and earning decent livings.

More important, they both are in successful marriages, and my wife and I maintain close relationships as friends with all four kids. A far cry indeed from my relationship with my own parents, which finally had to be terminated because of their incessant derogations, criticisms, and demands on both my wife and me. Reason can hold emotion at arm's length for only so long, then the walls come tumblin' down. My guess, prejudiced though it may be, is that somewhere down the road, the Tiger Mom's behavior is going to deliver a bite to her butt that she'll never get over.

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