Tiger mom, helicopter mom or free-range parent?
A new novel by a strict Asian mom shines the spotlight on the "undisciplined West". So which are you: tiger mom or free-range mom?
Her 2 daughters have no downtime, no play dates, no fun. She decides what activities they may participate in (violin and piano, which are difficult to master and brings prestige), and locks her 3-year-old out on the coldest day of the year when she refuses to practise.
Chinese author Amy Chua's book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" has caused an uproar. How dare she treat her kids like that? Doesn't she realise they have a free will? Just how cruel can a mom be?
Amy retorts that Westerners allow their children to waste time and don't equip them for the future. The traditional Chinese way of the strict Tiger Mom is to know your child is strong and to support and push him to realise his full potential. She admits that she's made mistakes but points out that her girls (now teenagers) have huge personalities, they laugh a lot as a family, and they keep her on her toes.
Then there's the anxious Chopper Mom, aka the helicopter parent. She's the one who storms into the principal's office when her child didn't get good grades, who's involved in all school activities, hires party planners for her toddler's 3rd birthday party, protects them from all dangers, and hovers 24/7. There's tutors, counselling, therapy, and pills for everything.
And finally, the casual free-range parent. The one who lets her children breathe, explore life at their own pace, make things instead of buying the best... you get the picture. Some free-range moms are a bit too laid-back, others may argue.
Read Annie Murphy Paul's article and book review of "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" (Time Magazine, 20 January 2011): Tiger Moms: Is Tough Parenting Really the Answer? by Annie Murphy Paul
And Nancy Gibb's fabulously funny article on Helicopter vs Free-range parents (Time Magazine, 20 November 2009): Helicopter Parents: The Growing Backlash Against Overparenting by Nancy Gibbs
Then tell us: which kind of parent are you?