I remember as a young child, my mother who is the disciplinarian, nurturer and provider all rolled into one, would cane me with a clothes hanger when I did not write my alphabets and numbers properly. I hated those beatings and resented her then. But as I looked back now, I have no doubt she did it out of love. She instilled discipline in me from young and as a result, I’ve grown up to be self-disciplined in my studies without her having to worry about my academic results. I was an above average student and had never failed a single subject in school tests and exams. But my mother is far from a tiger mum. She gave me freedom to choose my own schools and subjects I wanted to study.
The recent controversy stirred up by Yale law professor Amy Chua’s book ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’ set me thinking about my own parenting style. I admit I’m a strict disciplinarian. I do not condone unreasonable temper tantrums and rude behaviour from my child. And I have no qualms letting my child know that I am displeased with her through time-outs, stern warnings, reprimands and the occasional smacks on the backside.
Of course, I have not and would never insult my daughter with esteem-bashing names like "garbage" which Amy Chua called her elder daughter in a fit of anger. I think that would be detrimental to her self-esteem and may have adverse effects on her self worth as a human being. And I don’t think I would force my child to take up enrichment courses that she doesn’t like or has an aptitude for. Neither would I demand that she gets straight A’s in her academic results, nor force her to practise on her piano from morning till dusk.
I say I wouldn’t be a tiger mum to my daughter because I don’t have the "fire" to impose such restrictions and rules on my only child. I think it is both mentally and emotionally draining to be a tiger mum, to be constantly lashing out at your child for not doing well or enough. I also do not want my child to fear me instead of love and respect me. I want her to grow up knowing that she has a choice, and that she has to be responsible for her own choices, good or bad.
My parenting styles would combine strict disciplining with generous doses of love and affection thrown in. I would always make sure she knows she is deeply loved, but I would also dish out punishments when she misbehaves or is unreasonable beyond control. And I would expect the best out of her, even if her best is not the world’s measure of success.
I don’t need my child to become a top scholar or world-renowned pianist, but I would be overjoyed if she is. As long as she has given her best and is happy, I would be contented.