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The Tiger Mom Fallacy

Much has been made about Amy Chua's “Tiger Mom” method of child-rearing and education, along with her claim that Chinese mothers are superior to moms in the west.

Chua has spearheaded a movement known as the "Tiger Mom" - an anecdote to the selfish and often apathetic methods of mothering in the West. The Tiger Mom basically expects nothing but perfection out of her children. She expects her children to be number one at everything they do.

However, Chua's method of Tiger mothering has recently come under attack for some serious flaws.

For example, what happens when you have two Tiger Moms competing in the same classroom? There can only be one number one. But the Tiger Mom's philosophy is that nothing but number one will suffice.

While there is nothing wrong with encouraging excellence and hard work, the core of the Tiger Mom's philosophy, expecting your child to be number one can have some severe drawbacks. For example, truly successful people are often the ones who aren't afraid to fail. But the Tiger Mom philosophy inculcates a fear of failure, and thus children will not be willing to take creative risks, the sort that lead to innovation.

The success of the West is often attributed to it's freedom and willingness to take smart, calculated risks. Some of the greatest minds in history were average students who were given the freedom to take risks and think big thoughts without a fear of failure.

The West is surely not without its problems. And it can be safely argued that in the modern West, there has been a drive towards mediocrity due in large part to a lowering of expectations. Perhaps a better method than Amy Chua's “Tiger Mom” philosophy is the one that simply asks children to do their best and then holds them accountable to giving their best.

The ideal solution might be a middle ground between East and West: to have high expectations, demand best efforts, but provide plenty of room for creative risk and failure. Giving your child the freedom to fail, while expecting that they do their best, can be one of the greatest gifts you give to them.

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