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Moms Talk Q&A: Tiger parenting and student burnout

Are you a strict parent? Do you believe students are becoming burnt out?

A phrase everyone has been hearing in parenting circles lately is “Tiger Mom.”

It seems to be everywhere from the local news to CNN to talk show programs to magazines and newspapers. Amy Chua’s strict, Chinese-parenting style with little time left for play has been controversial.

Moms Council member Sylvia Headen said it’s a topic of great interest even though a lot of people may not agree with the parenting style. Council member Nancy Loughin agrees. “I like the ‘Tiger Mom’ discussion thread. I agree this is a hot topic right now among moms. It touches a lot of nerves.”

A Time Magazine article said Chua’s book on tiger mothering implies that children raised with Western parenting styles are “ill-equipped to compete in a fierce global marketplace,” while children of tiger mothers are raised to “rule the world.”

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Herndon High School Parent Teacher Student Association, along with St. Thomas A Becket Church in Reston, will be showing .

The movie is a documentary on how students are being pushed to the brink with advanced classes, activities, sports and more and are becoming stressed out, burnt out and uninspired by the time they reach the workplace.

So, what are your thoughts on parenting styles? Are you strict or do you give your children a lot of freedom? Are you somewhere in between? How do you feel about the workload being given to students? How do you know when it’s too much? Join our as they discuss it in the comments.

Elizabeth Jones February 16, 2011 at 07:53 PM
As a parent and a girl scout leader, I have seen my children learn more during free-time and play than anywhere else. We reinforce what they are learning at school here at home -- but often wonder if I should do more. Not that they aren't bright children, but I hear about some parents who already have their children in language, math and music lessons, as well as employing tutors (in 1st grade!). Is the bar being raised artificially by a very small percentage of parents?
Nancy Loughin February 16, 2011 at 08:18 PM
I am all for parents being involved in their children's schooling and after-school pursuits (volunteering at baseball games and getting kids to flute lessons and listening to their practice during the week). I knew one family who moved to upper New York state so their kid could join an elite hockey team and travel nationwide full-time with tutors (he was in middle school at the time). They were pushing him all the time, and one parent traveled with him nonstop, leaving the rest of the family behind. I read in a Christmas letter one year that he abandoned hockey his junior year, completely, cold turkey. He was burned out. The parents divorced.
Barb Welsh February 17, 2011 at 03:57 PM
I'm more the anti-tiger mom. I feel that teaching kids to try and be self sufficient and happy are goals that will better serve them. Focusing on skills that disregard basic human life skills like compassion and empathy as you barrel your way to the top leave a shallow and material focused human being. Although I certainly do my best to encourage my child to be the best that they can be, trying to help them be well adjusted, compassionate and loving individuals is equally as important, if not more so that rising to the top as your number one goal, no matter what you have to do to get there.
Leslie Perales Loges (Editor) February 17, 2011 at 04:15 PM
Barb you're reminding me of how my mother raised us. We basically had to know how to run a household by the time we were in our early teens and we always had things like chores to do, but my mom wanted us to be independent, responsible people. She didn't want us to move out not knowing how to do our own laundry or cook a simple meal or go grocery shopping with a budget so she was very hands off to let us learn those types of things. My parents were also very hands off when it came to what sorts of music we listened to or movies we watched or what we did in our free time. Basically it was the sort of thing where we had free reign of those choices until/unless a problem was caused by them (though I don't remember there ever being any major ones). Even though we had a lot of freedom we also knew what NOT to do, because while my mom could be really laid back, we knew things would not be pretty if she got mad. She's a bit scary when she's mad. I hope I'm that way when I'm a parent. :)
Nancy Loughin February 17, 2011 at 08:01 PM
I agree with Barb's comment. I remember when my son was in high school that a friend of his came over to our house in tears. She got her SAT scores and she was afraid to show them to her parents, she was terrified of their reaction because they were not nearly perfect scores. I tried to console her, but eventually she told her parents, and they immediately cancelled her from homecoming (a big deal with a date), grounded her, enrolled her in an after-school SAT-enrichment program, and demanded she retake it (for the third time). She was so afraid of her parents, and under so much pressure to produce good grades, that she was a nervous wreck. That was my first encounter with truly "tiger" parents. I did not like how they were treating their only daughter.
Penny Halpern February 17, 2011 at 08:40 PM
When my girls were in school, I told them that school was their work and they needed to do it on their own. They could ask for help but only after trying. They also had chores to do and learned how to start dinner so we could sit down as a family every night and talk about our day. Once they got tall enough to figure out how to use the washer/dryer, they did that as well. Extra curricular activities were based on THEIR interests, not on what we felt they needed to know. Although neither went out for sports, they did excell at debate, forensics, drama and creative writing which appears to be what they wanted to do since one is a lawyer and the other works for the government in the Energy Department. Allowing them to find their passion and interest is the best thing we could do for them. I hope to never be called a tiger mom or Nana. My girls are grown and have little ones of their own so I'm sitting back and enjoying the experience.
Barb Welsh February 18, 2011 at 01:28 AM
Penny I am so with you. Although my kids are still a little young, they each have the chore to take out recycles/trash and return, bring their plates to the sink. I'm working on my oldest putting laundry on and putting in the dryer. They also help out with cleaning up and picking up after themselves as needed. I hope to add more responsibilities with time, which can be oh so hard, as you know you'd do it faster, and more efficiently than they can--but how else do they learn I guess?
Sylvia Headen February 20, 2011 at 04:55 AM
I think that Tiger Mom Amy Chua hit a politically incorrect nerve among parents. From the reactions the author received it would seem that authoritarian parenting is no longer popular and a more permissive style is what most parents prefer. However, I feel that Ms. Chua made some points that may be valid. What’s wrong with holding our children to high standards? Whether it’s about making their bed, keeping their room clean, or doing their homework neatly basic standards of excellence have been replaced with more lax standards. Does this relaxed attitude then make its way into other areas of our children’s lives? Holding children to a certain standard and keeping them accountable for reaching that standard is what teachers strive for everyday and when there is no or little home support it makes their teacher’s job harder. Do we as parents go too far in insulating our children from discomfort and distress by making things too easy for them? I feel like I was somewhere in between with my parenting style as a mother. I set the standards high but I tried to be aware of when to back off. As I look back now I wish that I would have been tougher in some areas and helped my children believe that they could have accomplished more than even they felt that they could. Challenging someone’s parenting skills will always be touchy and controversial, but I say let’s always be open to examine our current practices and make changes to become the best parents possible.

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