Tiger Moms

        The book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” has been getting  a lot of attention recently.  If there was a television show called “Extreme Parenting” the author, Amy Chua, would be the host.  She really pushed her two daughters.  They couldn’t have sleep-overs, they were expected to get top grades in the glass, and they were forced to play the violin and piano and practice every single day …even on the weekends and on vacation (seriously, her mother would tape the sheet music up on the television sets and make them practice even when they were in Europe.) 

A lot of people in America couldn’t relate to what Chua wrote.  And in fact, some thought the Department of Children and Families should have been called in.  She has even received death threats for the way she raised her daughters.  She does admit to calling one of her daughters “garbage” once in an attempt to motivate her because that’s what her own Father did to her.  That’s something I don’t agree with.

I interviewed a South Florida woman, who is also Chinese American, and says her parents raised her with that some “Tiger Mom” mentality.  She recalls one time getting a 96% on a test, and instead of her Mother praising her, she asked her why she didn’t get 100%. 

Well …Lisa Hu Barquist was salutatorian of her high school class.  Her twin sister was valedictorian.  They both went on to Yale.  Lisa is a very successful attorney.  Her twin sister went on to become a very successful doctor.  They both are classical pianists.  So perhaps this Tiger Mom stuff really works?

Lisa, who is honestly one of the most generous and sweetest women I know, is a mom to 5th grader Clarissa.  And Lisa has extremely high expectations of her daughter.  Just as she does for herself.  She says she looks as children as rubber bands.  What she means is that you have to pull children to pressure them, but you have to know when to stop pulling so the rubber band doesn’t break.  She says that she considers each child as a different size rubber band.  And that she looks at Clarissa as an industrial strength rubber band.  Clarissa does get straight A’s and is a very mature, well-spoken young lady.  And for the record, Clarissa told me she enjoys having strict parents.  She thinks they are making her smarter.

Looking back at my childhood I actually wish that my parents were harder on me.  I did pretty well in school.  But I think if they would have demanded better grades, I could have gotten them.  I know that my Freshman year in college at Indiana University I enjoyed my newfound freedom a little too much and didn’t get the grades that I should have.  But my parents didn’t sit me down and have a discussion with me over this.  They just assumed that I would improve them …which of course I did.  Perhaps they knew that I would beat myself up far more than they ever could.

I’ve been reading Amy Chua’s book and I must admit it has been stressing me out a bit.  In it she says that when her daughter was just 18-months old she knew every letter of the alphabet.  Well, I consider my boys very bright …but they are now 25-months and they can’t do that.  So I have been working on the alphabet a bit more with them.  It is such a fear that we have as parents …that our children will fall behind.

I really like Lisa Hu Barquist’s viewpoint.  That each child should be treated differently and that we should have high expectations for our children because, oftentimes, they will meet them.  She thinks many Westerners are doing a disservice to their kids by not expecting them to get good grades, or excel in an activity.   And when they don’t do well at something, letting them quit. 

A word of caution though that I didn’t include in the story that aired on CBS4.  Lisa says that being raised by a Tiger Mom had turned her into an over achieving adult.  And this isn’t always good.  Lisa works long hours, volunteers for many community activities, and, she admits, can be stressed at times.  For her twin sister, that high stress as a doctor led to a heart attack five years ago that put her in a coma.  Lisa wanted me to share that story too.

  • Patricia Giraldo

    Tiger Mom!! Congratulations to her!! Like me our children aren’t the opening story of the 6pm news.
    Why not have high expectations, my first book was Winston Churchill’s biography so why shouldn’t expect the same? We aren’t all the same correct but you should set standards for your children – that is called parenting or involvement
    My child attends a charter school and as such I’m required to volunteer parental hours – why not?

    • Tammy

      Lisa Marie – Wow I’m so pelased with my pics they look amazing, i love how Ewan can make pics look very sexy and classy all rolled up into one.

  • Clarissa

    This is Clarissa Barquist. I really enjoyed reading Shannon’s blog. It all came out great (even after our noisy dogs). You should probably know, my mom is with me. <3

  • L. George Yap (Miami)

    I like the message that Lisa Barquist is giving. I think that we parents must realize that we have to take more interest in our children’s upbringing and do not presume they will learn by themselves because they “want to.” As parents we need to make sure our children get a good education; in the future, no one can take that from them. Being strict is knowing how to take charge. If we as parents do not do this, our children will suffer. Because some parents fail to supervise their children when they are young/growing up, the children get a false sense of “maturity” (when they are not) and they end up getting into trouble. And I congratulate Lisa Barquist for setting this example. Sometimes we are afraid to voice our opinion because we are afraid of what other people might think. God bless her and Shannon Hori and other mothers who think like them.

    • Clarissa

      Hi George! :)

      • neitil

        Karl, you don’t suck. And you don’t need to look far for an angel bcuseae you are one. Reply:February 3rd, 2009 at 10:08 am@metalmom, An angel with horns.

    • Ajay

      Hi you!! Thanks so much for this! We acaltluy just went into the book’s fourth printing! So there are definitely copies out there can’t wait to meet everyone in Miami!

    • Luciana

      Thank you guys so much again! I cellad my dad shortly after I recieved your phone call and he’s ecstatic that he’s going to a game again! You guys are the best!

  • Bob Fifer

    Unfortunately, children do not come with instruction books when they are born. As a result, many parents set out on the journey to be parents based on what they saw from their parents or what they have seen from others. In my opinion, it would be a mistake to say that there is one right way to parent a child, but I will say that there can be many wrong ways. Based on my professional training, I tend to approach things from a neuroscience (read: brain development) perspective and can attest that the brain will grow and develop only when there is good, consistent, high quality external stimulation. Talking, reading, singing, clapping, dancing, playing, and laughing with your child are all excellent examples of good stimulation – parent / child interaction is the best thing possible to promote physical growth and development of the brain, a foundation of language, and intelligence. “Tiger Mom” used some methods that I did not and would not use with my son. But the one universal lesson that is good to take home is that she was involved with her children. Each mother and father develops his/her own way of nurturing, but giving quality time to each child, time that is spent paying attention to them, is the most precious gift they can receive. I guarantee that child will remember those quality moments (or lack thereof) throughout a lifetime. Successful parenting does not involve the ability to give many gifts, to take vacations to Disney, or live in fancy houses. Successful parenting involves quality time to enjoy one another, to nurture, to teach, to guide, to stimulate, and to challenge. These are the gifts that a child remembers always.

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