Confessions of a Tiger Mom in training

“Did He who made the lamb make thee?” William Blake
I didn’t want to be a Tiger Mom.  But I’m beginning to wonder if it’s too late. 
Tiger Mom refers to a style of parenting which was the focus of Amy Chua’s memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother(which I have not read) and its controversial Wall Street Journal excerpt, “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior”(which I have), and its many resulting responses. This style of parenting is typified by strict rules and high expectations.  As controversial as Chua’s recollections and reflections have been, they struck a chord with millions—including me. But unlike those who dismissed Chua as a monster, I saw her as just a mom—and one not unlike my own.
I could not wear makeup until I was fifteen and even then, foundation and eye shadow were out of the question. I was never allowed to host or attend sleepovers. I was told there would be no dating before I received a high school diploma.  (Despite my rebel streak, I never defied this rule.)  I was expected to earn A’s, was questioned for Bs(my mom recalls a parent meeting where she questioned one of my high school teachers about a B-; alas I have blocked it from my memory), and practically carried a cross for earning a C in Physical Education and Algebra II/Trig.  I was told that designer jeans (ahh the 80s) were out of the question and that I would need to work and pay for them myself if I really wanted them.  At the time, I thought my mother was a tyrant. In retrospect, these rules were reasonable and will likely be implemented in my household.
Still, there were challenges. I often wondered if I was good enough. I worried about cleaning my room to perfection. I worried about my penmanship. I worried about my weight.  I became a perfectionist and it made piano and dance recitals and creative writing less enjoyable at times.  I learned to fear a certain tone of voice. Those lectures hurt more than any physical punishment would have. My mom stopped spanking when I began to go to school but she wielded words like a samurai wields a sword. 
My daughter has begun to refer to that voice. She calls it “yucky and nasty and scary.” It is a voice that tells her to clean up or to not do this or not do that.  I can hear myself using it but it sometimes takes a while for me to take a breath and stop.  A few nights ago, I asked Blues to explicitly intervene and take over discipline if I can’t check myself in these moments of verbal aggression.  I’m grateful to say that last night he did step in and help make a situation which could have resulted in a teary toddler into a constructive moment for all of us.
I don’t want my daughter to fear me. I don’t want my daughter to change. I want her to be the feisty, willful rebel who dares. 
And I want to be a good mother.    


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