Par­ent­ing styles to pon­der

The Washington Post Sunday - - OPINION -

Ruth Mar­cus [“ Tiger vs. the B-mi­nus,” op-ed, Jan. 19] and oth­ers have been crit­i­cal of Amy Chua’s Chi­nese par­ent­ing style, de­scribed in Ms. Chua’s book, “Bat­tle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.” Ms. Chua de­fends her de­mand­ing style of ac­cept­ing noth­ing less than per­fec­tion from her two daugh­ters in school­work, home­work, Chi­nese lan­guage lessons and mu­sic. The book jux­ta­poses the Chi­nese style of par­ent­ing with the Amer­i­can style, claim­ing that Amer­i­can par­ents are too soft, while it re­veals the re­bel­lious­ness of Ms. Chua’s daugh­ters and their re­jec­tion of her ways. While I agree with much of the crit­i­cism, one point is be­ing missed: Ex­tremely de­mand­ing par­ent­ing is self-serv­ing and sends chil­dren the wrong mes­sage.

If Ms. Chua’s chil­dren were ex­hausted at day’s end be­cause they sac­ri­ficed some of their free time to pick up trash at the neigh­bor­hood park, tu­tor less-for­tu­nate chil­dren in math­e­mat­ics or English, col­lect cans for food banks, or write letters to sol­diers over­seas, it might be more char­ac­ter build­ing. Her chil­dren would not only have helped to make a bet­ter world but would have learned that it’s not all about you, or even your mother.

El­iz­a­beth Varela, McLean

Tiger mother Amy Chua and kit­ten mother Wendy Mo­gel both fail. It’s not about them and their pre­ferred par­ent­ing styles. It’s about their chil­dren: What par­ent­ing style best mo­ti­vates the child?

Some chil­dren will wilt un­der a tiger-mother style and through­out their lives never feel “good enough” about them­selves, no mat­ter how suc­cess­ful they be­come. Other chil­dren will rise to the chal­lenge with an “I’ll show you” at­ti­tude that makes them feel ac­com­plished, pro­vid­ing the ba­sis for a life­time of con­fi­dence. But both sets are likely to pos­sess some un­de­sir­able traits as a re­sult of be­ing driven to per­fec­tion by an un­re­lent­ing par­ent.

Un­der a kit­ten mother, a “ have fun and get by” child will do just that, even if ca­pa­ble of greater achieve­ment. Such chil­dren need to ex­pe­ri­ence ac­com­plish­ment be­fore they can seek ex­cel­lence in their own lives. On the other hand, a child with an in­ter­nal drive to excel will prob­a­bly do all right with the kit­ten mother.

So I agree with Ruth Mar­cus that the “sweet spot” of par­ent­ing is in­di­vid­ual and con­stantly chang­ing. But I don’t think it’s “elu­sive” or a “ lucky” find. Suc­cess­ful par­ent­ing is the re­sult of know­ing your­self, know­ing your child and fig­ur­ing out the best mix of par­ent­ing tools.

Mar­i­lyn Stoney, Clifton

Ruth Mar­cus is wise to con­clude that good par­ent­ing lies some­where be­tween “de­mand­ing too much and ac­cept­ing too lit­tle.” While the em­pha­sis on hard work, per­se­ver­ance and achieve­ment are es­sen­tial el­e­ments ofChi­nese par­ent­ing, I, and many Chi­nese par­ents I know, also strive to pro­vide a lov­ing and sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment to nur­ture our chil­dren. Amy Chua, with all her ac­com­plish­ments, could have done bet­ter to pro­mote cross-cul­tural un­der­stand­ing rather than re­in­force the stereo­typ­ing of Asian chil­dren as nerds — good at math and mu­sic but poor in sports. “ Tiger mother” is a deroga­tory term in Chi­nese, mean­ing a dom­i­neer­ing woman with a bad tem­per.

Wanda Tseng, Rockville

The dis­cus­sion re­gard­ing Chi­nese chil­dren and their tiger moth­ers was amus­ing un­til I re­mem­bered what it took to get an un­will­ing boy through his bar mitz­vah. We all have our tiger-mom mo­ments.

Harise Poland-Wright, Sil­ver Spring

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