Local mom Hsiao-Ching Chou Sounds off on the Tiger Mom debate

Hsiao-Ching Chou

You may have seen my response in Red Tricycle to the excerpt of Amy Chua’s “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” that appeared in the Jan. 8 Wall Street Journal. Maybe you saw my sound bite on the news the night Chua was in Seattle. And this morning I’m going to join a mommy panel on New Day Northwest to discuss this hot topic.

What’s the big deal? A TIME Magazine cover story deftly analyzes why there’s been such “ferocious buzz” surrounding Chua’s book, which has shot up the best sellers list:

Speaking on education in December, a sober President Obama noted that the U.S. has arrived at a "Sputnik moment": the humbling realization that another country is pulling ahead in a contest we'd become used to winning.

Such anxious ruminations seem to haunt much of our national commentary these days, even in the unlikeliest of contexts. When the National Football League postponed a Philadelphia Eagles game in advance of the late-December blizzard on the East Coast, outgoing Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell was left fuming: "We've become a nation of wusses," he declared on a radio program. "The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything. If this was in China, do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium. They would have walked, and they would have been doing calculus on the way down."

Truth be told, it’s all a bit overwhelming. Every day, I see a headline or tweet that reminds me of the sleepovers I wasn’t allowed to attend, the extracurricular activities I wasn’t allowed to “waste” my time pursuing, the childhood socialization and fun that I missed. Much like Chua, who cops to not knowing how to enjoy life, I often have to tell myself to lighten up and not take everything so seriously. Thank goodness my husband is irreverent and helps our family strike a balance.

The longer that this collective discussion about Eastern versus Western parenting continues, the more I call to question whether I’m tiger mom enough. I drill my 4-year-old daughter, but hardly enough to be considered a true tiger mom. I haven’t started her on an instrument yet. And, because digital media are a big part of my life as well as my TV producer husband, our kids know how to operate the iPhone and watch more TV than is acceptable.

My thoughts about tiger-mom parenting continue to evolve, but what I know is this: I want my children to be the best they can be and to reach their potential. I want to help them understand that they need to work hard in order to do so. I will guide them along the way and push them to challenge themselves. The rest, we’ll figure out as we go.

What are your thoughts about Amy Chua’s tiger-mom way?

Update: Watch the New Day Northwest segment here.

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