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Leave the Tiger Mother behind

For a level-headed take on the Amy "Tiger Mother" Chua business that puts the discussion into perspective, I recommend you read Nancy McDermott's post.

She argues that this is another case of "seeing social and cultural issues through the prism of parenting":

It seems to me that we have displaced classical philosophical questions about the nature of our humanity, about character and purpose on to the relationship between parents and children. Just as we now expect schools to fulfill functions that are not remotely related to education – things like teaching children conflict resolution techniques or how to control their weight - we expect parents to single handedly prepare their children to become happy, productive members of society.  Of course there’s nothing wrong with aspiring for children to be happy and  successful but the idea that this is mainly accomplished through the efforts of parents is very new.

Traditionally it has been understood that it’s through engaging with the world (not as filtered by our parents) that we find our place in it. That’s  why so many stories we tell ourselves about ourselves in literature, fairy tale and legend begin when we leave our parents behind. For instance, the three little pigs’ mother doesn’t come into the story at all except insofar as she sends her children out to seek their fortunes. She did not insist they should first study structural engineering or make them watch episodes of “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” just in case (I confess, I am guilty of this).

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