The choice to be a tiger mother

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I admire Lance Armstrong; he is an amazing athlete with an iron will. But I wouldn’t want to be like him. I wouldn’t make the sacrifices he was willing to make along the way.

That’s the truth: People like Lance Armstrong choose to go all-in. Most of us choose otherwise.

Amy Chua went all-in. Her book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, has attracted widespread disapproval. And venomous response. And death threats.

She is a Yale law professor and author of (now) three books. Her parenting style can best be described as uncompromisingly tough. It included rejecting her daughters’ homemade birthday cards because they weren’t good enough; demanding straight A’s; refusing to allow her daughters on play dates and sleepovers; making them play a piano piece to perfection before being allowed to go to the bathroom.

I am not the parent that Amy Chua is. I have chosen to be more permissive and indulgent with my children. So far, I’m glad to report, they seem to be turning out just fine – even if I have an uneasy feeling that Chua’s kids are likely to have a higher career trajectory than mine.

Why did I chose not to be more like a Tiger Mother? Let’s be honest: I didn’t want to work that hard. There are other ways to justify it, but why bother?

That’s probably why people are having such a strong reaction to her and her book. It plays into Americans’ anxiety that we are being eclipsed; it seems to affirm our most secret fear that this isn’t happening due to circumstances beyond our control, but because we’re soft and lazy.

I suspect those who wish Chua harm are most upset by the fact that they too could have aspired for their children to be exceptional. But they chose not to.

For them, Chua’s parenting isn’t upsetting as much as it is threatening.


About the Author:

Bob Rosenbaum is founder and principal of The MarketFarm, a content-oriented strategic communications firm.

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