But as Peter Gray so brilliantly writes in this article, Amy Chua is more like a circus trainer than an actual tiger mother. She is ultimately concerned with performance, with impressing others. Her children are just actors (like it or not) in her big life show. It makes me sick to see anyone in the media congratulating her for her daughter's recent college acceptances, as if it somehow justifies her method.
As a parent, I have a choice. I can choose to focus on trying to craft a "designer child," as Chua and many other parents do. If so, then everything I do now is with an eye on the future: Punishments/Rewards, Requirements, Expectations, Manipulation, Forced Lessons. It's all just in case. It's all with the hopes that my child will be some certain way. If I do all of that stuff now I can control the future.
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees. There is no guarantee that my child will even live through the day. There is certainly no guarantee that even if I make my child do everything "right," his future will turn according to my plan. And even if it does go exactly as planned, there is no guarantee my child will be happy with it or thank me for it.
But there is another option. I can instead choose to focus on developing the best possible relationship with my child. I can do everything with my eyes on my child as he is right now, instead of always worrying about who he will become. I can choose Acceptance, Encouragement, Understanding, Trust, FUN. There still won't be a guarantee of any specific outcomes when choosing this way. But if I choose more happiness and more fun right now, I get more happiness and more fun.
Instead of the futile attempts to try to control the future, I can successfully take control of my actions right now. I can choose to be my child's ally, his partner, his friend, rather than his adversary, his warden, or his circus trainer. I can look at the way I treat my child, and ask whether the things I am doing and saying are supporting the goal of building some kind of fancy superhero child or, rather, the goal of building a relationship with another human.
After all, I'm a human mother. And my children are human children. And I want to have the best possible relationships with my children, two of my favorite humans on the planet.