Two Polar-Opposite Parenting Strategies: Which one is the Right One?


(Photo : Flikcr/edenpictures) Tiger Mom would approve, but the dresses would have to go no doubt

There are two  parenting strategies circling the stratosphere that alternatively promise to make your kid either a smart and successful erudite and/or entrepreneur or a socially well-adjusted and happy adult. The methods are neither synonymous nor can they can be used interchangeably.

The first can be summed up in an excerpt from Amy Chua's book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom:"

"Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

- attend a sleepover
- have a playdate
- be in a school play
- complain about not being in a school play
- watch TV or play computer games
- choose their own extracurricular activities
- get any grade less than an A
- not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
- play any instrument other than the piano or violin
- not play the piano or violin...."

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"Unlike your typical Western over-scheduling soccer mom, the Chinese mother believes that (1) schoolwork always comes first; (2) an A-minus is a bad grade; (3) your children must be two years ahead of their classmates in math; (4) you must never compliment your children in public; (5) if your child ever disagrees with a teacher or coach, you must always take the side of the teacher or coach; (6) the only activities your children should be permitted to do are those in which they can eventually win a medal; and (7) that medal must be gold."

Chua's instruction manual advocates the theory of tough love, teaching readers to never reward their children for minor achievements earned or praise them in public, thereby constantly making them strive to be better.

The crux behind Chua's taboo liturgy is that through punishing hard work, which includes ironclad bans on  Western indulgences, Chua ensures that her daughters ,who are prodigal piano and violinists, the oldest performing in Carnegie Hall at just 14-years-old, gain excellence which in turn, yields satisfaction in what Chua calls a "virtuous circle."

Though advocates for this method would say that children stress over how to constantly improve their academic and professional performance for their own gains, the real motive behind their endeavors is seeking parental validation and acceptance: In other words the child will always strive, without success, for their parent's approval.

The second method, defined by Chua as the "western style" is ensuring that your child is happy and socially well-adjusted. While Chua's theory stresses that not only does she care about the excellence achieved by her children, but that is all she cares about; western parenting styles stress health, happiness and love.

 A study published by the University of Iowa shows that infants who have a close, intimate relationship with a parent are less likely to be troubled, aggressive or experience other emotional and behavioral problems when they reach school age. The idea is to make sure your kid is good, honest, loving and lovable. Both methods of parenting focus on the 'outward performance' of a child but while the first undermines emotional and psychological wellness in favor of 'winning' in all it's forms, the second upholds truisms likethe of getting and receiving of emotional support and taking second best as a medal in itself for good sportsmanship.

Chua's method is seen as child abuse to most critics while, her advocates see western-style parenting as prolonged babying, rearing ultimately, weak, soft and unsuccessful children.

While both methods seem to work just fine (though neither method takes into account the genetic make-up and nature of the children involved) and can, (again depending on the kid) yield the results you want,choosing which one to implement all depends on what kind of person you are. Someone who is by nature sweet and sensitive has not the stomach nor heart to call their 4-year-old 'garbage' when (s)he strikes a sour note on the piano; The hard -to-please parent will find it just as disturbing and utterly distasteful to congratulate a A- on a test.

It is the parent's nature and their own nurturing experience that instructs how and in what ways will their children be raised. It is what you are comfortable with and, in most cases what you know. The 'Tiger Mom' did not grow up in the western-style, and therefore could not possibly see its benefits. An adult who found solace in the praising words of their parents for their excellent performance as a tree in a3rd grade school play cannot imagine not doing the same to their own kid.

These methods are polar opposites and involve parents who are just as different. One cannot just pick-up Chua's book and decide that they will raise their children to be gold medalist winning, rocket scientists--- because, let's face it, the tear stained face of your two-year-old whom you have just brow-beat into playing a perfect piece by Beethoven or else their doll-house may be ripped apart and donated peice by peice to the salvation army may make you change your mind.

As mother's are meant to love, nurture and protect, it is unfathomable to some how the Tiger Mom is able to keep strong and emotionally abuse her children into perfection---or maybe it is just natural for her. It's what she knows, is comfortable with and she could not imagine doing it any other way, just like most of use. 

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