Tiger Mom Amy Chua A Good Mom? A Past Tiger Dad Reflects

January 21, 2011 Updated: January 22, 2011

[xtypo_dropcap]W[/xtypo_dropcap]ith her newly released memoir titled Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom, Amy Chua and her strict Chinese parenting method has caused a stir among parents in North America. Even other tiger moms and dads were shocked to know that Chua’s daughters were forced to practice instruments for hours without breaks—that is, until Chua's youngest daughter Lulu rebelled as a budding teenager.

Amy Chua’s memoir, not only tells a story of a mother who seeks to educate her child the traditional way, but also expounds upon herself as a daughter of newly arrived Chinese immigrants from the Philippines, who once struggled to make a living in the United States. As Chua put it in an interview with Time Magazine, her parents’ method of education, which later gave birth to hers, was based on goals of preparing her for the future rather than on guaranteeing her immediate happiness.

Zhongning Zhang, a Chinese immigrant whose daughter was born in China before immigrating to Canada at age 5, shared his story of being a tiger dad in the western world.

The Chinese people have many sayings regarding education: “the strict father will have filial sons,” “filial children come from hitting sticks,” and within these traditional sayings lie similarities to Chua’s parenting strategy.

Zhang and his wife took the ancient advice and thought it was best to discipline their daughter with strictness. As he recalled, his daughter was a rather timid child in kindergarten, who shed tears easily and did not actively participate in activities.

There’s yet another ancient Chinese expression that gives wisdom to the parents who want to teach their children properly: “a good teacher is a good friend.” Soon after the family moved to Canada, Zhang found out that his daughter found motivation in learning with her western teachers’ friendliness and encouragement.

“She would rather stay in school for hours than being at home,” said Zhang.

As newly arrived immigrants, Zhang said difficulties in adjusting to a new environment and improving language skills added up to the intense atmosphere at home, and his daughter was able to sense it even when he did not express things openly.

“She often says to me that she senses stress, or even threat, from my way of speaking.”

A survey by the American Psychological Association showed that children often feel anxious when they see signs of stress from their parents, and parents’ stress has an impact on the family.

According to the survey, 43 percent of teens feel worried, while 38 percent said that they are frustrated when their parents are stressed.

Language and cultural barriers were also the cause for miscommunications for Zhang. “The way I explain things to her is different from how they did it at school. Once I was a bit pushy, and she cried.”

Sometimes the first generation immigrant’s lifestyle kept Zhang busy. He regretted having other things on his mind, and not wanting enough to put in the time to help his daughter.

“I think this type of attitude is not right. Gradually, I noticed that she stopped asking me for help with her homework.”

Years later, the timid girl became a member of the student council in her high school and is now a junior with top grades at a university.

“I personally don’t know how she was able to achieve it. Looks like our teaching method wasn’t well accepted,” observed Zhang.

With reporting by Angela Wang.

Material was taken from the original Chinese article, which can be read here .

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.