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Kathy Buckworth Headshot

Tiger Mom vs. Lager Mom

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HOMEWORK
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A recent book about the phenomenon of "Tiger Moms" caused quite a stir in the parenting community. I'm not going to name it, because then you might buy her book instead of mine, and frankly, I think she's doing okay. And it would just prove that HER mother was right, if she's more successful than me.

Basically the premise of the book is that the ultimate autocratic parenting style works best in terms of producing the most successful child. Successful in terms of progressing to higher education, ultimately leading to a better, well-paying job.

I support this. I support children getting out of the house, away to school, and making some money of their own. What I don't support is the methods which are being recommended in order to achieve this. While Tiger Mom might try to convince you that she rules the roost and what she says goes, the fact of the matter is, if you're spending 99 per cent of your leisure time forcing your children to practice the violin and to do their homework for three hours a night, I'm pretty sure at this point the kids have taken over your entire life.

After all, post-school time and evenings are prime Mommy time that can be spent doing many other things that would in fact enhance the lives of mothers far more than having to sit through boring violin concerts and excruciating valedictorian speeches at high school graduations in the future. (Hey, if it's your kid up there, you really have to look like you're listening, not like us carefree texting Moms in the back row.) I'm not sure she's thinking things through here.

What else could we be doing? Things like, I don't know... here's a thought -- maybe drinking some wine and having a life of our own.

My youngest daughter took up violin a couple of years ago. Ha! I say 'Ha!' because the joke was totally on me. Not only did it not immediately make her more successful at school, (I'm the product of an instant gratification society, or at least the time it takes me to uncork a bottle), I had nightmares about cats being tortured on the rack, with the sound track to this provided to me by her lovely string stylings. The minute she eked out a version of "Happy Birthday" to her dad, I began talking her out of playing it. This particular period of time may have unfortunately dovetailed with the enthusiastic recorder playing by her younger brother. There's only so much a good glass of chardonnay can do, folks.

Should kids do their homework? Absolutely. Should a parent have to monitor it for three hours a night? Absolutely not. Unless said monitoring can be done with glass, bottle, or can in hand, from across the room, or preferably, in a different room. Besides teaching children to learn independently, it just gets downright embarrassing when you can't tell them which of the triangles is hypotenuse. Being a 'Lager Mom' takes the pressure off. If that's what qualifies me for an inferiority complex, so be it. Cheers.

Around the Web

Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior - WSJ.com

Tiger Mom: Amy Chua Parenting Memoir Raises American Fears - TIME

Tiger Mothers: Raising Children The Chinese Way : NPR

Tiger Mom Says

Behind The Wall - 'Tiger Mom' comes to China