Cousin Carla: The Tiger Mom

Guest post by Cousin Carla….

I have to begin by saying that I have made some . . . not some but several . . . actually MANY mistakes in raising my kids.

– I dropped my 6 month old.

– I locked my daughter in the car . . . twice . . . in one week.

– I threw my sons new shoes (an Easter present) at him and hit him in the face . . . on purpose.

– When I got pulled over by a cop I told my kid to jump in the back, lay down and act like he was going to throw up.  He was 7 at the time.

My point is the perfect parent is a myth.  However, many other people want to tell us how to perfectly parent our kids.  I can not count the times I was told what I ought to do differently.  I should give them space to discover themselves.  I should make them do all the extra credit homework even if they already have an A.  I should not let them ___________ (fill in the blank with either dye their hair, pierce themselves, or get tattoos).  Everyone wants to tell you what you’re doing wrong.

I recently read “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” expecting to hate everything about it.  I originally heard about the book by reading the reviews in the back of my intellectual magazines (People and Entertainment Weekly) and it sounded like something a crazy person wrote.  It is a book by a first generation Chinese-American and her Jewish husband who decided to raise their daughters “the Chinese way”.  This included no playdates, no sleepovers and practicing their instruments for 5 hours a day!  Wow!  I couldn’t wait to see all the things this crazy mother did wrong!

Thinking I could mock and make fun of this book was the only reason I picked it up to look at it. I started it one day when I had an extra half an hour at Barnes and Noble before meeting the hubs for dinner.  When he finished tutoring his student and came to tell me it was time to go it was too late.  I was enthralled with the book and completely IN LOVE with the tiger mom.

I know this will upset my dearest cousin, who has had tremendous success with her parenting style. Her kid, my cousin, is a wonderful, interesting, resilient, funny, respectful, bright, talented individual (despite his insistence that I must be called Aunt Carla). As unsettling as this is for her, in this book I had found a kindred spirit.

When my son was young I would sometimes let him have a “no rules day”. This meant that for several hours I would let him do whatever he felt like doing. He immediately would strip to the skin, run naked to the kitchen, grab a box of cereal and sit on the couch and watch TV. I am convinced her would still be there if “no rules day” ever lasted more than just a few hours. He is now 22.

The Tiger Mom understood my desire to push my son to do his best always. She would have totally understood why I threatened to chase him around the baseball field if he didn’t start running his fastest in the race around the bases at the end of practice.  However, she would not have understood that when he won the race, causing his teammate who he had always let win to burst into tears, and came over to me and said, “I will never do that again.  I just don’t care that much.”

She would have cheered when I coached him so much from the stands during his Little League games. “Stay in the batter’s box! Wait for your pitch! Don’t just swing at anything!” She would have been completely confused when he stepped out of the batter’s box and told the umpire he wouldn’t bat until I left the field. I had to watch the rest of the game from my car. However, I did take notes, so I coach him about the game the entire trip home.

I’m sure I was voted the WORST mom on the team when I told my kid he would have to drink his spit because he had left the water bottle I prepared for him at home.  Four other Moms snuck him bottles of Gatorade into the dug out. One even gave him candy too.

I’m not saying that the Tiger mom and I were right, but it would have been nice to be understood.  It would have been nice to have some support when I made my ten year old take everything out of her room except for her bed and clothes when I caught her lying.  She lived like a monk for a month.  All of the other Mom’s thought this was the most unreasonable, horrible punishment EVER.  It was bad enough that I only let my kids watch anything with a screen for an hour a day, now the poor baby had no TV in her room.  It was cruel and unusual punishment.  They actual had a sort of PTO intervention to talk to me about it.  It seems I was scaring their children.

The Tiger Mom would have understood.



Carla is right: I’m not a fan of the Tiger Mom, but I’m also not a fan of the holier-than-tho parents or  parenting for an audience. Joe often called these types of parents “Shushers”  because they are always “Shushing” someone about something.

I can remember one soccer game where I became a little over invested and a mom looked at me and said, “Shhhhh….” I shot back, ” Shhhh yourself”  (I know so witty and mature-right?).  My comment did not win me a front-road seat with the twin sweater set, but it felt so good, and I was the only mom who got a big hug after the game; maybe that was because I wasn’t racing around making sure everyone had the right water bottle.

What are your thoughts?
Odd Loves Company!


Other posts by Carla:

Giving and Receiving is Hard Work

My Baby is Graduating

Volunteering or Giving my Life to Project graduation

9 thoughts on “Cousin Carla: The Tiger Mom

  1. The tiger mom had Liz in a tiz until I started to learn more about her..she obviously loves her children a great deal-she is strict but not abusive. Culturally how the Chinese look at rearing Children and Americans look at rearing children are worlds apart. After reading more, I think we could both learn from each other. Does my kids baseball team really need a trophy for coming in 4th place? on the other hand working hard and coming in 4th place is not the end of the world.
    Great post Carla. Kb I am proud to say I have never shushed another adult.

  2. I am a bit sick of the “total happiness for the child” world we live in and I have kids. The one thing both the Chinese parent and the American Parent seem to have in common is the need to be a part of and direct every single moment of their child’s life. I heard a mom not reminding but arguing with her 17 year son about a coat the other day. We will always worry, we will always be the parent but our kids don’t need to consume every minute of our lives and we need to get out of their lives and let them breath once in awhile. Sorry my comment turned into a rant. 😀

    Loved the story about your son and the police Carla! Did he do it?

    • Yes! Without question, he jumped in the back held his stomach and when the officer walked up to the car he moaned loudly and yelled, “Mom! I’m gonna throw up.” No ticket, no vomit, no issues, just wonderful family memories. Haha

  3. If kids know there is always support and consequences at home they are set for life. can’t say i read the book but my impression is that support is a little skewed in her eyes.

    • The tiger mom is very skewed in my opinion–I also think it has a lot to do with cultural. Her book and excerpts of her book are “attention grabbing” while the women herself seems to much more mild mannered at least in the interviews she gives.

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