Ultimate Cage Fight: Panda Dad Alan Paul Faces off Against Tiger Mom Amy Chua
It’s sheer narcissism to believe that your child’s every success and failure is a reflection of your worth. Get over yourself.
What is the alternate to the Tiger Mom? Panda Dad offers his perspective. Amen to Panda Dad; you are preaching to the choir!!
“During our first weeks in Beijing, we attended a talent show at our children’s British school and watched Chinese students ascend the stage and play Chopin etudes and Beethoven symphonies, while their Western counterparts ambled up and proudly played the ABCs under their flapping arms. It was enough to make anyone pause and ponder the way we are raising our kids.
But time in China also taught me that while some here view a Chinese education as the gold standard, many there are questioning the system, noting that it stifles creativity and innovation, two things the nation sorely needs. Further, having seen it in action, I have a strong aversion to hard-driving “Tiger” parenting, certain that is not a superior method if your goals are my goals: to raise independent, competent, confident adults.
Living in a Beijing housing compound, I watched Western and African kids running through the streets in roving packs of fun-seekers while their Chinese friends looked dolefully out the window in the midst of long hours spent practicing violin, piano or character-writing. When they were done, they unwound by picking up video game consoles. It looked like a sad, lonesome way to grow up and nothing I would ever prescribe to my children. And of course it’s not the only style of Chinese parenting. I saw plenty of kids smashing these same stereotypes.
It also seems insane to cast an eye around the upper-middle-class American milieu Ms. Chua is discussing and conclude that the problem is that our child-rearing is too laid back. The shallowness of this concept will be obvious to anyone who has ever stalked a suburban soccer sideline or listened to New York parents prep their 18-month-old for nursery school interviews. God help us all if Ms. Chua’s books convinces these same people that they simply have not been trying hard enough.”
Alan Paul is the author of “Big in China, My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues and Becoming a Star in Beijing” (Harper). It is based on his award-winning WSJ.com column The Expat Life. Read an excerpt, here.
p.s. He gets a strong reaction to his perspective and rebuts here.
p.p.s. Here’s my post on Tiger Mom.
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