Amy Chua’s new book, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom has hit a nerve with American mothers. Some are furious with her parenting style, others are intrigued and some are applauding her discipline. Regardless what we mothers might think about her techniques, I am intrigued that we are so swooned. Sure, she is no-doubt brilliant and highly motivated as a mother, but my concern is for the rest of us mothers who feel that we must compare our job to her’s. Are we worried that perhaps she is onto something that we’ve missed?
Now we can, and should, always be open to better ways of parenting. But I think that the overwhelming intrigue with Dr. Chua stems from our insecurity that we’re not doing it right. After listening to mothers for more than 25 years, here’s what really worries me: we are a fragile lot. We are so afraid that we’re doing it incorrectly that we need to read, double check and compare how we’re parenting against someone like Dr. Chua. After all, her children are successful and we need to size up how we’re parenting in order to get our kids to be equally successful to her’s. Are we really that insecure, mothers?
I think that it’s high time we focus on our strengths as mothers and stop approaching our jobs from a posture of fear. That’s our problem in a nutshell: we are afraid. We are afraid of messing up our kids so we handle them gingerly and apologize all the time (mostly to them.) We are afraid that our friend’s kids will be more successful than ours so we surrender family time in the evenings so that they can play one more sport. We are afraid of being too strict, too dependent, too uninvolved, or too over-involved.
Moms in America- let’s get a grip. If we can endure hours of excruciating labor, Ceasarean sections, the anxieties of the adoption process, kids who bite and slam doors, we can jettison our fears about doing it all wrong. There’s a whole lot we do right- so let’s take inventory of those things and build on them. Let’s stop being afraid of our kids and better yet- ourselves.