22 Feb

‘Tiger Mother’? How About ‘Surly House Cat Mother’?

Chloe - the surliest cat I know.

 

I can’t help but wonder if a night during which I sent my kids to bed early in exasperation is the best night to start my very first ‘Mothers of Melondipity’ blog contribution.  It’s not the kind of night that makes one feel like a rousing success as a mother, but I know we’ve all had nights like these.  Whatever the reason (for us, very cold temperatures over the weekend) all moms, even those with one child, have experienced being cooped up with the kiddos a little too long.  I actually felt guilty when they first started acting nutso, running around the house whooping and hollering until one of them inevitably fell or bumped their head, because I hadn’t paid much attention to them today.  But after the fourth or fifth time someone came to me crying or tattling I thought,”Nah.” and sent them on their way.  You see, around that time I was reading some more buzz about the book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, a book that touts the Eastern (or Chinese) method of parenting as opposed to our Western style.  As I scrolled through the article, complete with excerpts, the kids groused about having to turn in.  I could only chuckle to myself and think, “Oh, but it could be so much worse for you, my pretties.”

I realize I’m probably the last person to publicly write about or comment on this book and the least qualified.  I’ve scanned the articles and listened to the talk shows for weeks now, but will probably never actually read the book.  That is not to say I disagree with everything the author has to say, but personally I don’t do non-fiction well.  Because I am, primarily, a stay-at-home mom and my present life is not what you would call action-packed, everything I read must have nothing to do with present day reality.  That being said, I do think a lot of moms are reading this book and many of them aren’t doing it for the advice, but rather so they can gasp in horror (and maybe feel a little superior?)  From what I gather, the author (a Yale Law School professor)  is very honest about her methods and her children have grown into incredibly accomplished young women anyone would be proud to have parented.   So what would a Western mother have to feel superior about?  Well, some of the author’s methods and philosophies seem harsh, at least to some critics, and concerns over a child’s self-esteem take a back seat.  Messing with a kid’s self-esteem is considered almost felonious by many Western moms and so we cluck, shake our heads and call our friends to discuss Tiger Mom’s more dastardly deeds.

Extremes go over with me about as well as non-fiction does, but I do think Tiger Mother has something to offer us Western moms, and not just as an example of what not to do.   After some thought, I too believe we’ve become overly concerned with our children’s self-esteem and that our kids could use a dose of ‘tiger’ now and then.  Since I am a huge believer in the happy medium, I’ve come up with a compromise – somewhere between ‘Tiger Mom’ and ‘Pussycat Mom’ lies ‘Surly House Cat Mom’ (I include ‘Surly’ because we need to be off-putting, if not a little threatening, at times).   The SHCM still has her claws and is adept, but not careless, with them.  She can be soft, cuddly and pleasantly purring when she needs to be, but also knows how to assert herself as supreme ruler of the house any time such assertions are necessary.  She’s not out to incite the level of fear that a tiger might, but she sure knows how to make your life difficult if you don’t walk the line (our cat pees on the bathroom rug if we forget to scoop her litter).  So what say you, Moms?  Where do you fall on the feline spectrum?  Or do you identify with any other moms of the animal kingdom?

– Josie