‘Tiger Mother’ may work for some, but not for all

What are your thoughts on the Tiger Mom? Her book seems to be getting a lot of attention. I wonder if her ways are healthy or not.

From a business perspective, Amy Chua’s book, “Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother,” is brilliant: It’s controversial, it goes against the grain of popular opinion and it has stirred a national discussion. A publisher’s dream, frankly. I can only hope that my forthcoming book garners similar attention.

As a psychotherapist, I have my concerns about the message. Fortunately, it’s merely a memoir of one wo-man’s account of raising her kids and not a self-help book or parenting guide. I’m confident the American public is smart enough to know there are better ways to raise children to ensure they go on to become happy, healthy, intelligent, well-adjusted adults.

Chua’s book essentially highlights the difference between two parenting approaches; training children versus fostering growth. The latter is more prevalent in Western culture, while the former is generally more rooted in Asian culture. In the book, a parent demands high performance and obedience and shows little affection — anything short of those standards reflects poorly on the family and brings about shame. Love is expressed through pushing and disciplining a child rather than hugs, and unconditional love is almost nonexistent. In some respects, it’s a form of coercion whereby children are made to feel guilty if they don’t conform and special if they succeed.

Ms. Chua’s kids seem to be doing well, so that’s not to say her methods are entirely unhealthy.

Fast forward 20 years though, and many similarly raised kids come to see me for help as adults. Perfectionism and obsessive-compulsive tendencies are common; they’re often dealing with issues of guilt, shame, depression, a poor sense of self, resentment toward their parents and a lack of social skills — nothing a little therapy can’t help.

–Jonathan Alpert is a licensed psychotherapist. E-mail him your questions at jonathan@jonathanalpert.com
Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.


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