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What do the Children Think of Tiger Mom?

 In Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Tiger Mom (Amy Chua) put aside her interest in her two daughters and replaced it with days filled with music practice and homework hours designed to see that the children avoid the disgrace of getting a “B” in school. Success is all that counts.

Chua’s “Battle hymn” is a no-nonsense approach to child-rearing that leaves no doubt who is in charge, who is setting the goals and the daily agenda for each child. A’s in school and first place in violin and piano are the only acceptable grades or outcomes. Mommy knows best and the little person’s interests or thoughts on the matter are not important and shouldn’t be part of the selected activities which are to be practiced until perfect.

 One disadvantage of the Tiger-Mom approach is that the child’s view is entirely discounted as if the child has no idea of what talents he has or which activities deserve extended practice. What if Chua’s daughters had talents in other areas not of interest to Mom?

Chua does offer some useful observation. For example, she says western parents often give heaps of praise when a child’s accomplishment is close to nothing, This habit reduces self-esteem because real accomplishment is viewed as no better than a casual attempt. With nothing to strive for, the child may have no reason to try harder. Some of us locals could learn from Chua’s suggestion of holding off on undeserved praise. But Chua would hold off on almost all praise because she’s never quite satisfied.

            If Mom’s routine reaction to her child’s interests is negative, and she has no respect for anything outside of the preferences of her adult friends, she may say, “Put that guitar out of your mind and get to work.” If her daughter fails to impress others after hard work, she may not try again. Instead she may wander into bad habits and become a victim of the fanatics that troll the troubled waters of the teenage years.

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