“It’s great.” Josh replied. “You know, my wife is a Tiger Mom so she’s all over it.”
Naturally, I flipped out. My husband’s friend now thinks that I have our toddlers sitting at the piano 13 hours a day, refusing to let them use the bathroom until they can play Tchaikovsky with no mistakes. That’s so not the case. They WISH I would let them bang on the piano (or “plee-nanno” as Sarah calls it) every day. On the other hand, I am teaching my three year old Latin. And maybe former Harvard president Larry Summers had a point when he observed of Ivy League alums that the A students are now academics, the C students are sitting on fund-raising committees, and the B students are busy trying to tiger mom their kids into their alma mater.
In my review of Amy Chua’s book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I admitted to having some tiger mother tendencies, but pointed out that what was missing in the book was grace. Letting kids skate by with mediocre educations and trifling effort is not doing the kids any favors, but parenting without grace is not a good way to build lasting relationships and reach a child’s heart. One of my goals for this decade is to “teach my children to have tender hearts and love to read,” which is my attempt to aim for balance between grace and achievement. I don’t think the two need to be mutually exclusive.
My husband assures me that when he told his friend I was a Tiger Mom he meant that I take education very seriously. And I do. In fact, I recently found myself using the phrase in my small group Biblestudy to describe how I handled something. No one contradicted me with a heartfelt, “Oh no, Catherine! You’re not a Tiger Mom! You’re so laid back!” I know, you’re shocked.
Still, I hope that I can grow in balance between encouraging excellence in my children and giving them grace. Constantly on my prayer list: patience, understanding, wisdom, that I would be less critical, and that I would see opportunities to be a fun mom.
I don’t know if I want to “own” the Tiger Mom descriptor, but I’m learning that it’s OK for us to parent differently, to have varied family goals and cultures, and there are a lot of different ways to live life in grace. Hopefully my cubs will survive one way or another!
Image Credit: One Inch Punch