Tiger Mom offers parenting advice to Houstonians

November 16, 2011 5:13:37 PM PST
She's been called a monster for her parenting style, criticizing western moms for overindulging their children and says we need to embrace hardcore Chinese parenting philosophies. Amy Chua, the author of the most talked-about book in the so-called mommy wars, came to Houston recently and offers tips on how to embrace your inner Tiger Mom.

The Few kids -- 13-year-old Bradlee, and 11-year-old Jason -- are expected to be excellent and bring home A's. And strict mom Arvia Few makes no apologies for her high standards.

"They have not failed me yet. I'm so proud of my kids," she said. "She really made me feel really good about myself because my friends tell me I'm strict and I actually feel good about being strict."

Arvia was one of dozens of Houston moms to hear the author of "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" defend the headlines surrounding her bestseller -- first the Wall Street Journal headline "Why Chinese mothers are superior," then the ugly excerpts from the book, which include the hand drawn holiday card she rejected from her then-elementary aged kids, making one daughter practice piano into the night without food and bathroom breaks and in anger calling one daughter "garbage."

Is she the most controversial mom in America?

"Sadly maybe, I can't believe it," Chua said. "And also people who know me kind of can't believe it."

Chua says the headlines are incomplete. She wrote the book as a memoir of her transformation parenting her first daughter with strict rules like no sleepovers, or play dates but then loosening the reins when her second daughter refused to submit. Both girls, 15 and 19, defend their mom in newspapers and say they'll parent like her.

So what about you? Do you want to be a Tiger Mom? Chua offers tips.

First, children shouldn't be praised for mediocre efforts.

"You can tell your kids you're the best, you're perfect all you want -- but think that true self esteem has to be earned the old-fashioned way by overcoming a challenge, kind of proving to yourself that you can do something you thought you couldn't," she said.

Second, don't overindulge your kids.

"I really feel strongly about not wanting to raise spoiled, entitled kids who don't feel a sense of responsibility and gratitude," she said.

And third, your children are capable of more than you and they think.

"I think we should assume strength rather than weakness in our children because if even your own mom assumes that you can't do it, what message is that sending to the child?" she said.

These tips not for you? They aren't for Suzie Dennis either and yet her daughter is now a doctor and her son is in finance.

"I didn't want to impose my views too much on him; he needed to find his own way," Dennis said.

In the end, Tiger Mom concedes parents have to find their own way based on their child's needs -- that's the real lesson she says her story teaches.

Tiger Mom was here to speak to the Society for the Performing Arts Houston.


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