Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Tiger Mom" and "Panda Dad"

A few months ago, I blogged about the "Tiger Mother" phenomenon and the lack of discussion about dads in all of the hullabaloo.

Well, two things happened this weekend that answered many of the questions I asked in that blog post.

First, I was at a bookstore and saw the actual cover of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother for the first time, and the text blew me away. It said, "This is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs." This is a married mom whose husband lived in the same home as her and her children, and he does not even get a mention on the cover? - but the dogs do!? Furthermore, she has revealed that it was her own father who "inspired" her parenting techniques. But her husband is less worth mentioning than the family pets? Am I crazy, or is it OK for me to be upset about this?

The second thing that happened is that I found out that a dad actually did write an essay for the Wall Street Journal just last week asking the very question (and providing an answer) that we asked here on The Father Factor - where are the dads?

This dad, Alan Paul, lived in Beijing and wrote a book detailing his experience, Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues, and Becoming a Star in Beijing. In his Wall Street Journal piece, he talks about how his parenting techniques are very different than those of the Tiger Mom, and he attributes these differences largely to the fact that moms and dads are simply different. He sums it up like this: "To make a sweeping generalization, moms tend to be more detail oriented, and order driven. Dads often care less about the mess, can live with a bit more chaos and more easily adopt a big picture view."

I think he is right, and research has actually verified those claims. He calls himself a Panda Dad, due to his propensity to "parent with cuddliness, but not [be] afraid to show some claw."

I like it! What I like best is that Paul is not afraid to talk about how the differing parenting techniques of moms and dads are both real and helpful to kids. And it is great to see a dad step into the fray and provide an important answer to an 'unasked' question. At a time when 24 million children in America - 1 in every 3 - are growing up apart from their fathers, it is critical that discussions about parenting don't ignore fathers.

Hats off to Mr. Paul for his work as a writer, and more importantly, as a Panda Dad!


  1. I do agree...this Dad IS in the mix. I suppose it's better than being a Dad that's emotionally out of the loop....just being there physically is as bad as not being there at all. There must be a better representation of respect least mention the man. This is like that old faithful statement by that athlete....Hey mom! Why hasn't the Dad been waved at?
    It need to be reciprocated.
    Gregory J Daffin

  2. Awesome post!! In Pre-Civil war times, the dads were the main moral guide of children. Then, fathers felt and assumed responsibility for their kids. Now, perhaps with all the James Bond "it's cool to be a fancy free" images widely embraced, parenting is dumped all-too-much entirely to the mother. Excellent for pointing out how the media is perpetuating this, and leaving out the dad's critical voice!

  3. Bonnie Tyler clear back inthe '80s was singing "Where have all the good men gone?" Just as she did in the '80s we also need a hero. These hero's are called dads. I don't know whether I'd be more upset at the mom for not including her husband in the title or more upset at the dad for not doing enough to be considered as a significant contributor to the family. I think the statistics of 'fatherless america' are a lot more if you cound dads who do live at home but are 'checked out' most of the time.


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