Controversial Book Has North Texas Parents Split On Raising Kids

By Karen Borta, CBS 11 News

HIGHLAND PARK (CBSDFW.COM) – Coined by controversial author and Yale Law School professor Amy Chua, the phrase ‘tiger mom’ has some North Texas parents divided on how children should be raised.

The term comes from Chua’s 2011 book “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” a best-selling memoir about her strict parenting methods while raising her two precocious daughters.

“This is not a parenting book,” Chua said. “One of the reasons I went this way with my kids is because the model applied to me was so successful.”

In Highland Park, the top priority at the Lu household is education. That means perfect grades, and striving to reach the top of the class no matter what the cost. As such, fifth grader Lily Wu said her mother sets all the rules.

“They don’t let me go to sleepovers,” the 11-year-old said. “I’ve never been to one, and don’t know what it’s like.”

“I think sleepover is really a bad habit for the kids,” her mother, Jinny Pan, responded.

For Pan, who grew up in China, education means opportunity, and being the best means having the best chance for success.

“If she gets the same education as other people, she probably don’t have the same opportunity,” she said. “So, she has to be better in order to get the same opportunity.”

Pan jokes that she’s a tiger mom, which Chua said is used by many Chinese-American parents.

“They always try to get me to do more homework each day,” Lily said.

“I feel like I don’t push her enough,” her mother added. “Sometimes you push your kids, and your kids will say ‘Why are you so mean to me?’”

Not all parents are sold on the virtues of being a tiger mom, however.

“I have to say I was horrified,” said Liz Lazear, a new mother in Irving. “It seemed like her love for her daughters was very conditional.”

Lazear said her parents raised her with a lot of freedom, and it still led to success. Today, she’s an attorney.

“It was really a nice, organic, natural way to learn,” she said. “I definitely wanted to replicate that with my own children.”

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, a psychologist in Plano, says she sees a lot of issues with the parenting style of the “Tiger Mom”.

“When kids are over controlled and micromanaged, they don’t learn how to define themselves independently,” Dr. Gearing said. “They just constantly orient to the parent.”

She said some parents push for an unhealthy level of perfection, and don’t allow their children to explore what might interest them.

“They don’t emotionally develop into the independent, resilient people we want them to become,” she said. “Growing up is about taking risks, making friends, making mistakes, and bouncing back.”

Even Amy Chua, who spoke at a recent book signing, admitted she had a few regrets about the way she raised her daughters.

“I wish that I had paid more attention to the individual personalities of my two daughters,” she said. “And, I do wish that I had given my kids more choices.”

However, she was quick to defend her parenting style because she said it worked so well on her.

“My parents having very high expectations for me and sometimes using harsh words coupled with this deep love was the greatest gift that anybody has ever given me,” Chua said. “That’s why I wanted to give it to my kids.”

Aside from the rule about no sleepovers, Lily says her mom does allow her to have fun with her friends, and pursue her own interests, but schoolwork always comes first. And, she believes her mother’s rules will pay off.

“It’s worth it when I grow up,” she said.

We’d like to know your thoughts on this.  Comment below, and tell us what you think about this style of parenting.  Your comments may be used in a future story on CBS 11 News.


One Comment

  1. JoAnn May says:

    My daughter had a fun childhood. She learned to read in 1st grade and reads constantly, but we were not pushy parents. She chose to work hard and do well in school. And because of that she and not us earned her recent acceptance into Columbia Law School this fall!

    1. Kevin says:

      And if she hadn’t been accepted, what would you have done?

      1. Leslie Johnson says:

        She probably would have consoled her and told her and told her that she loved her like any other parent would do and then follow up with “Honey, it’s ok to go to your second choice that accepted you. Harvard isn’t all that bad for a second choice.”

        Surprise, surprise … Asian parents love their children too. They just have higher expectations for their kids.

  2. jonathan chang says:

    I too grew up in a Chinese family that had high expectations and it worked out very well not only for me but for the family at large. What you don’t see is the LOVE these parents show their children by their actions which include being involved in their schoolwork and spending a lot of quality time with the kids. You only hear of the horror stories and yes, there are some bad Asian parents too.

    Asian families instill the concept of being responsible to the family and to yourself whereas most Caucasian and Black families stress the independence of the Child. Frankly, I think the me, me, me society is not good for the individual, the community or this country in the long run. We must work harder to help one another while prospering ourselves.

  3. Peg says:

    I did not attend sleepovers as a child and resented it at the time. He did not approve of sleepovers because the activities of someone else’s house was always questionable but he knew what would happen in his own home. My friends were allowed to come and have a wholesome environement of fun. Education was important because my parents graduated from high school but were unable to attend college. They believe education to be the key to a good life. Now I am a retired adult and appreciate the house rules set by my parents.

  4. Claudia M. Hahn says:

    I agree with this form of parenting when it comes to education. I was a Tiger Mom with my daughter. I divorced my husband when my daughter was 18 months old and so we were labeled with the stigma of a single parent household. If educators want to change something, their attitude toward single parent households is one of them. My daughter graduated from high school in the top 10% of her graduating class of 660 and scored a 1240 on her SAT. That got her a nearly full funded education at SMU. My concentration was on hellping her understand how important her education was and that came with my own sacrifices. You can’t just expect your child to sacrifice things growing up, you also must be willing to place your own wants on the backburner and make your child, their education and their future the primary focus. And believe me, when you’re raising a child alone and working full time to put a roof over their heads, food in their stomachs and clothes on their backs, there are sacrifices that must be made.

  5. Kellly Nguyen says:

    Most Asian kids will never grow up to be in the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB due to the way those sports cater to specific physical skills. Therefore, the Superbowl and World Series for Asians is in our ability to perform at school and in the professional world. You may spend three nights a week taking your child to select baseball practices with the hope he makes the major leagues. I take my kids to Piano, Math Tutoring and Tennis with the hopes they will get into a great college and have a proper foundation for their lives post college. No offense, but I think my odds are a little better.

    1. I Am Me says:

      RE: “Most Asian kids will never grow up to be in the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB due to…”

      Got news for you, neither will most of the Caucasians or Afro-Americans, or Hispanic kids. All you need to do is go to any high school game(s) and most of those kids will never get into the [profession(s).

      1. Kelly Nguyen says:

        Asian kids typically don’t make the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB or even college teams in the same proportions as do Caucasians, African Americans or Hispanics. Therefore, the parents recognize this and focus them where they can be extremely successful.

        Just like training for the Olympics is a lot of work, so is school and sacrifices have to be made by both the parents and the children.

        Love your children but be a parent.

  6. Claudia M. Hahn says:

    One more thing. I told my daughter I loved her everyday. I told her I loved her when she acted out, I told her I loved her when she succeeded and when she fell short. If there was one thing she always knew growing up and still knows today, that I love her more than anything on this earth. When we talk to one another we never end our visit without saying I love you. She is my greatest success story and I am extremely fortunate to have her as my daughter. I love you Courtney.

  7. Kevin says:

    A social life for children is important too, not soley academics and solely sports or other extra curricular activities.

  8. pat says:

    There is no controversy this is a simple choice, high expectations and academics for your child. Children today are allowed to waste to much time watching TV and playing video games or some electronic game. Shame on parents for making this book controversial. Children don’t have a social life today nor do they know manners or etiqutte because parents today allow them do what they want and not teaching them.

  9. Ted says:

    Congratulations! Even in the 21st century your racist remarks demonstrate your ignorance. With their education standards and expectations, you’ll find yourself sleeping on the floor when you grow up and aren’t living with your parents.

    Here’s a few words of advice … Get an EDUCATION and WORK HARD. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    What’s amazing to me is that these “ASIANS” portrayed here are AMERICANS TOO so don’t be so ignorant.

  10. RCSteve says:

    Funny the perseption you get is that little Asian kids have no life other than school. Think of it this way, school is your job just like Dad has his and Mom hers. Not Mcdonalds or the mall store. They play little league, go on vacation and hang out with friends just the same. it is just that some Asian parents drive their kids harder than others. My Mom was never like this women in the book. She never let me slack off at school and she put the fear of God in me, but she is was not a lot different than any other American mom. Don’t feel for us Asian kids, we’re all right.

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