Parenting – Are Tiger Moms for Real?



Amy Chua (a Chinese Singaporean based in the US, an author and a Yale Professor)‘s rocked the cradle in homes – literally with her parenting memoir, ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’, in year 2011. Two years on, the book and the hyped Asian Tiger Parenting style is still piquing everyone’s curiosity.  Everyone wants to know whether the Tiger Mom does exist in real life? Is it an Asian phenomenon? Can the present –day Asian dominance in the world be attributed to Tiger mothers like Amy Chua who breathe excellence and breed super-achievers!


recent study concluded that Tiger parenting- that stresses on control, does not take ‘no’ for an answer from children, is oppressive and demanding in nature and that literally drives success- actually breeds children who are depressed and feel alienated from their parents. However, it is a well-documented fact that Asian parenting is stricter, more involved and stresses on academic excellence and competitiveness and it is also a fact that globally, Asian kids are out-performing their Western peers.


Do Tiger Moms really exist?

So who is correct and do tiger moms really exist? In the aftermath of the overwhelming sales of the book, Chinese mothers in the US were appalled by the insinuation that all Chinese mothers are Tiger moms – the kind that derides children as ‘garbage’ when they don’t do something right while the mothers of non-Chinese origin were understandably irked by the suggestion that they are inferior to Chinese mothers and that their parenting methodology is suspect.


CNN, reportedly went in search of Tiger-Moms in China and ironically did not find any, as Chinese mothers have long departed from the stereotypical harsh disciplining style of parenting. It is hardly surprising as single child families are the norm in China and most parents, by abject psychology, would be doting on their only child rather than using Amy Chua’s methodology of denying children water, food, toilet breaks in pursuit of perfection in one musical lesson!


It is interesting to note that while Amy Chua’s elder daughter Sophia came out in her support even in public defending her mother’s parenting style, the younger daughter Lulu rebelled ferociously and the Tiger Mother had to concede defeat.  Clearly, no one can be a Tiger Mom always, not even Amy Chua!


Objectively speaking, all mothers irrespective of which hemisphere they live on, are capable of and do become Tiger Mothers when their parenting duties call for it but it is highly unlikely to find mothers who can be certified tiger moms all the time, always!  For one it can be terribly exhausting, for another it will create a permanent aura of unhappiness in the house that can lame any tiger mother or cub!


Tiger Parenting- Does it Work?

From the time Amy Chua’s book brought the issue into fore and it became clear that her children did not wilt under the tremendous pressure but instead flourished; parents and child psychologists have been asking, “What then, should the parent’s goal be- that of preserving the child’s self- esteem or goading him to success in the competitive world?


The Tiger Mom’s method of shaming her child into performing better or denying them any privileges may seem extreme, but her conviction in her children and their ability is worth merit. It is true that children blossom in the confidence which their parents confer in them. This is in turn motivates them to do better, even excel.


Success begets success, as has been exemplified by many successful people the world over. Confidence levels soar and so do competence and self-esteem. Also, underrated, practice does make perfect!


Very often the child needs a nudge, a gentle push to overcome the initial inhibition and believe in his own ability. It’s much like learning how to swim or helping a baby take that first step. If we teach our children to give up easily, they cannot be expected to rise to the challenge and rigors later in life. But the key really, lies in understanding the child’s readiness to take on the challenge. Pushing the child beyond his or her capability may be more damaging than fruitful.


Follow the Middle Path to raise Tiger Cubs!

Undeniably, the importance of academic excellence cannot be repudiated in today’s competitive world. At the same time, soft skills are equally necessary as we do not need robots, but people who are capable and equipped to make better choices in life. We cannot and should not be giving children the right to choose between attending classes and sitting on the fence. But letting them chose one musical instrument over the other is not self-destructive and at worst can give the child a precious moment of triumph.


It is utterly cruel to deny a child food, water or sleep till she has lived up to our expectations but at the same time it is equally damaging to the child if he is not reprimanded for wrong doing, and if he is frequently allowed to give up on things without giving his best shot.


Finally, children do not get to choose between Tiger Moms, Soccer Moms or Helicopter Moms. It is only fair that we allow them to choose an art class over a piano class if they want to!




This article has been adapted from the author’s Review of the book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” published on suite101.com on February 19, 2011.Also read: Of Tiger Mommies and Asian Parenting.



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