Are you tempted by Tiger Mum?

Why do mums even bother to argue about how to bring up their kids? We’re all just doing our best, and there are a heap of ways to do that. More thoughts from Nicola Baird, partly adapted from her book Homemade Kids.

Amy Chua is the “lucky” lady with an amazing career,  a hunky husband (teaching at Yale like her), two delightful teenagers and the ability to so irritate American mums that her book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, has become a must read and shot up the Amazon and New York Times bestseller lists.

It’s not published in the UK until 7 Feb 2011, but there’s already such an uncomfortable buzz about it, my first taste was this in the Guardian Saturday Family section (which actually I liked for its raw honesty, see here).

And so there should be a buzz – Amy wanted her kids to be straight A achievers and so they had to put in the hours to get there. This meant no TV, no sleepovers and agonies of violin practice.

To most of us this seems like a mix between child abuse and bullying. For anyone with older children it’s hilarious: a child who has been taught to think doesn’t accept a dictator. Even if she goes by the name “mum”.

The irony is that caring for a baby is such a small task, one that ought to link the world’s billions, but within the book buying world of lipstick, breast pads and feminism (and yes you are allowed all three) having a baby in the hallway is the greatest source of sisterhood wars.

I work because I like it, not just because I have to. But raising my children is another very big job, probably the most important job most of us will ever have . And it’s one all of us learn as we go along.

What I’ve found striking about bringing up my two girls – using green not super pushy mum values – is that a baby quickly becomes a highly motivating teacher who wants to turn you into an ideal parent. No wonder so many of us write about it…

For a fantastic summary of Amy’s Tiger Mum book – sympathetic really,despite her extreme regime approach – see here.

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3 Comments on “Are you tempted by Tiger Mum?”

  1. Penny Says:

    As long as you can talk openly about your parenting choices, including with your children, as long as you can reflect, refine and rebalance your approach, you should be fine.

    The moment you use intimidation, humiliation and violent actions to get your way, it doesn’t matter if the result is A grade students or musical genius. Does it?

    • homemadekids Says:

      Wise points Penny. With childcare you have to keep your nerve – just because everyone else seems to be rushing along one route (tutoring or buying little ones phones/Wiis or even, heaven help us, tiger mummying) doesn’t mean you are by default depriving your kids. Generally it’s the opposite. In terms of schooling though I do think it helps to work with your school, say on PTA, volunteering in class or for clubs, or as a governor, which helps every child, rather than singling out your progeny for that “special” attention which can end up depressing the life out of a hothoused tot. Nicola


  2. […] has a good weekly summary) that parents can’t resist talking and tantruming about, such as Tiger Mum techniques, cost of pre-school child care, tax breaks, rights and wrongs of dressing kids in secondhand […]


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