Many of the articles about the “Tiger mom” have been rather pointed in questioning Western culture’s parenting techniques versus Asian culture, quoting Amy Chua’s comments about how much better Chinese culture is with respect to parenting than Western culture. These articles raise doubt in Westerners’ minds, but also create questions in Chinese and other Asian parents’ minds about their parenting. Chua learned that her Asian parenting rules did not work on both her children, and no matter how hard she tried to match the “success” that she experienced with her older, more compliant daughter, the second daughter Lulu would not follow suit to achieve the same results using those same parenting techniques. This forced them to a showdown at Red Square where Amy had to admit defeat and learned to change her parenting techniques. As one blogger shared, this is a “coming of age” story where the mother becomes an “adult.”
Parenting styles go all the way back to the first couple on earth, Adam and Eve. The fact that Cain killed his brother Abel may lead to questions about what happened to create such jealousy whether for one of his parent’s love or for our Heavenly Father’s approval (when God accepted Abel’s animal offerings but not the produce that Cain offered). In any case, showing favoritism doesn’t work well, as exhibited in the life of Joseph, who was given a coat of many colors as the favorite son of Jacob. However, Joseph paid the price when his brothers plotted to kill him, and he was saved by one brother’s mercy to be sold into slavery instead of murdered. The story goes on to show Joseph reunited with his family at the end, forgiving his brothers, and admitting “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”(Genesis 37 – 45) By being sold into slavery, Joseph used his circumstances as overseer to Pharaoh to save up food for the coming famine years, thus saving the lives of his family members and many other people. God is completely sovereign in all the affairs of the world, including parenting.
It’s no wonder that I choose to seek God’s wisdom from the Good Book, The Holy Bible, to influence my parenting. Of course, Chinese culture does affect some of my parenting, but the Bible influences my heart to be the best parent I can be – meaning I want my children to be able to listen to God and hear His voice, follow His leading. This may result in high academics and a great career (or it may not).
Amy learned in her failure, to re-evaluate her parenting techniques. Recently, she allowed a “mom-sanctioned” sleepover for her daughter and friends in her freshman year of high school. Lulu was allowed to give up the violin and play tennis, something she enjoyed doing. Even though this was something not planned out for her at age five (as violin) so she could reach stellar performance, sometimes enjoyment and God-given gifts are to be given a higher priority than just what the parents want for their children.
One area where many Asian parents and I fall short not allowing our children to experience failure, and overprotecting them from life’s hardships. Perhaps we Asians don’t want to “lose face” and admit failure, so we try to shelter our children from mistakes as well as difficult circumstances. In the Bible and in life, learning to admit mistakes and lessons from our mistakes produce further growth and maturity. We need to be able to share our mistakes and laugh at ourselves in hopes of helping others. I believe this is one of the motivations behind Amy’s parenting memoirs – she had her self-described “come-uppance” when she realized she needed to change how she parented her younger daughter Lulu. She discovered the cultural battle she (and many immigrant and second generation) parents experience as she learned from her mistakes. Sadly, many parents fail to make the same realizations. They end up with rebellious children (or worse, compliant children) who hate us in their hearts whether they follow our leading or not. What a horrific outcome of parenting and legacy.
I read The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, excited that Amy had the revelation she did. It also made me question how I parent. Yes, I can be passionate, a positive tiger parent. But, you and I shouldn’t hover, and be so overprotective over our children, especially teenagers and young adults. If we believe in our own parenting and in God’s protection and watch care, we can rest in the fact that we have parented the best we know how, and God’s grace and love will help provide the rest that we lacked. Our godly legacy will continue beyond us as our children become parents and we provide godly influences for generations to come.
Article: Evelyn Eng
Evelyn blogs and welcomes your opinions about cultural and biblical parenting at christianasianmom.wordpress.com.