Monday, January 24, 2011

Where are the "Tiger Fathers"?

Many of you have probably heard about (or participated in!) the firestorm around the new book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. It is a memoir by author Amy Chua of what she calls the "Chinese way" she is raising her two, now teenage, daughters. Chua came to national attention when The Wall Street Journal published an excerpt from the book earlier this month called "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior." I can't imagine why that title would spark controversy...

Either way, I just read the Time magazine cover story about her book here, and something interesting emerged. You would think that Chua's own mother inspired her Chinese mothering. But all of the examples she cites of how she learned to parent the "Chinese way" come from her father. She remembers her father as her inspiration. Yet, it does not seem that she is suggesting that today's fathers (or her own husband) have anything to do with the parenting approach she has adopted. It seems she has assumed that it is the mother's role to engage in "Chinese parenting."

I wonder why.

Maybe it is because real life Chinese fathers are not expected to be involved in the day-to-day care of their children? Maybe she also assumes that American fathers are even less likely than American mothers to adopt her approach? I would like to do more research to see what she thinks the father's role should be -- her own husband, a non-Chinese American, was the softer parent in their household.

Would she say that there is a fatherhood equivalent to the Chinese mother? She did not expect her husband to be that way even though her father was that way.

As I read the Time article, it did not answer my questions about Chinese mothering. It raised new questions about what Chua would have today's American fathers do.

Are you a "Chinese father"? What do you think of Chua's parenting techniques?

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I have only glanced at the articles regarding "Tiger Mothers" but from what I see I would agree w/ part of her assessment and parenting style. I often categorize myself as an "old school dad". My son (4) has learned the term "Benevolent Dictatorship". In most cases I don't believe in giving my son a mountain of choices on what he can do in a given time. When it is time to eat, there is no negotiation for 5 more minutes or I’m not hungry(s). You sit and you eat. When bed time comes, I say "It's time for bed" and he goes, maybe whining a bit but he goes. He knows without a shadow of a doubt his father loves him with all of his heart. I love him enough to give his life some boundaries and not ask a 4 year old to try to figure it out on his own.


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