Over the holidays recently I read the book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom”. Now I don’t know if you have ever read this book. If you have please do share your views and comments on the book. Amy Chua’s take no prisoners approach to parenting where she has openly accepted her aggressive methods in her quest to see her children as accomplished musicians and academics was awe inspiring to me. She has earned some praise and at the same time a lot of flak too for this book I understand.
Me myself, I cannot say that I am an authority on the topic of parenting, but I can certainly say that I can relate to a lot of what she has written about. I get where she is coming from and I don’t entirely disagree with her methods either. As a Mother to a little girl myself one of the statements in her book that stuck to me and I feel at this time very aptly describes my own relationship with my daughter was where she describes Lulu. She says of her relationship with her younger girl Lulu…the exact words evade me now….but it was something on the lines of “we are so different in personalities but yet so drawn to each other with our lives inexorably entwined.” The author of course wrote it much more succinctly.
My own relationship with my girl currently runs along in similar vein. Any instruction given to my girl is almost instantly met with resistance. Does she do this because she honestly does not wish to do what I have ‘suggested’ at that point of time or does she merely enjoy the fight I am yet to decipher. Then predictably ensues the battle of the wills. Hers against mine. As of now I can proudly claim that I win majority of the cases. Two contributing factors in this win, A) I pull rank “I’m your Mother and I told you so” etc. B) I do try at times to give in in milder cases and let her have the victory. But since I have given her the victory I don’t think it counts! How much longer this winning streak will continue only time will tell.
Interestingly she rarely if ever tries these guerrilla tactics with her Father. That could have a lot to do with the fact that she worships the ground he walks upon. (sigh).
When I commenced this journey into parenthood I had fanciful notions of being my child’s best friend and confidante. Be the one to guide her boat through life’s waters so to speak. I still have these notions but with a dollop of reality though now.
In one of my efforts to make her bold and forthright I encourage her to always speak her mind freely at least with me. This is a double edged sword if any. Comments ranging from “Mum are you really going to do that?” to “Mum I love you the most” to “Are you seriously going to wear that” or candid culinary comments I have faced them all.
Now let me tell you the way we were brought up was quite a bit different. One never ever spoke rudely or even borderline offensively to ones elders. One never offered or was even asked for any opinion in most circumstances. We did as were told to, we kept to our strict curfews, we ate what we were served and we were never permitted to question back in a whiny tone “but why not???” Having said that we were permitted various freedoms, luxuries and indulgences and it never occurred to us to ever abuse those frills.
This book left me thinking would I ever be able to turn into a successful Tiger Mom? I too so much would like for my child to achieve her potential (believe me she has plenty), I too would so much like to be responsible for introducing her to mind expanding and creative outlets. Have her become an accomplished academic. But I also do want to cherish her growing years, enjoy my time with her before she leaves home to lead her own life. I don’t want to have to spend all my time with her at loggerheads and pushing her into things which she may not necessarily appreciate at this point in her life.
At the end of the day all I should ideally want for her is to grow up to be a good person with God and humanity deep-seated in her essence.
How does one strike the perfect balance, how does one become the fun and much loved and successful Tiger mom? Is that a myth, is it extinct or should I aim for a more universally affable animal?