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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Tiger Moms: A Whole New Way of Parenting (Part II)

Yep. You read it right. “Tiger Moms” is the term for a whole new brand of parenting in America. Or should I say, a brand that hasn’t been seen in a long time. Yesterday, I blogged about this style and posed the question: Is there something to this?

In a day, where we worship self-esteem in our kids, where we give them prizes and trophies for almost everything, where we post bumper stickers that remind them of how awesome they are — Tiger Moms believe that preparing kids for the future and not protecting kids from unhappiness is the key to successful parenting. This style actually improves the child’s self-esteem as a by-product.

This form of parenting is actually more popular in China. And while I don’t fully embrace it myself — the proof is in the pudding. China is now the second largest economy in the world, and is gaining on the U.S. We are steadily falling behind. Our beleaguered education system, if not revamped, will not prepare our kids for the global economy they’ll be entering as adults. I wonder if they’ll still believe they are really awesome.

The answer is probably in the middle. We have gone too far affirming our kids for the sake of self-esteem. They are not stupid and they see through our hollow flattery. By ten-years-old, our kids know better — and they long for clear leadership (in the home and at school) where parents, teachers, coaches, and youth pastors display a balance of two elements. We must become leaders who are:

1. Responsive
We display love, acceptance, support, and belief in our kids.

2. Demanding
We raise the standard for our kids and expect them to reach it.

This generation of students are capable of so much more than we demand from them. If they don’t reach their potential, it will be because we wimped out on leading them well. They need both “grace and truth.”

I dare you to demonstrate this balance… to be both responsive and demanding.



  1. Stephanierowland11 on February 4, 2011 at 8:57 am

    I was born in the Chinese Year of the Tiger, but the Tiger did not rub off on me. The Tiger Mom teaching style may work for a certain % of kids and their personality/learning styles, but it would absolutely destroy the spirit in others. Parents can’t be cookie cuttered, and kids can’t be cookie cuttered. Tim is so right in saying we need balance — we do! As parents we need to educate ourselves in learning styles and love languages and crossover our personal styles oftentimes to meet our kids where they are appropriately. Theydo have to learn that they aren’t the center of the universe early, so they can have that awareness that others have valid needs and wants that God has created us to meet as He enables. Each child should feel they have a special spot in their loved ones’ hearts, but they need that slice of Tiger parents pushing them apprpriately to always do their best. Doing our best Honors and Glorifies our Lord and Savior.

    • Tim Elmore on February 8, 2011 at 4:30 pm

      I like the balance you share, and I obviously agree. Where we often fall short is the application of that balance. I feel so often we, parents, are so afraid we’ll harm our kids if we challenge them to a greater effort — we shrink from doing it. Like you, I don’t like Amy Chua’s style — but I love the fact that she is determined to prepare her daughter for the future. Everyone loses if we are too weak to do that.

  2. Timothy Wilson on February 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Liked the post! I am now in a class that is discussing the parenting book “Love & Logic.” I agree with some principles of it but am struggling with others. I think that giving a child to many choices does not raise the standards. How do you feel about that?

    • Alex Tang on February 5, 2011 at 1:55 am

      Much depends on the age and maturity of the child. Givings too many choices to a toddler is ridiculous but we see it being done often.

  3. Jayna on February 4, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    I think the balance is praise is reserved for God. Encouragement is used to affirm their character and good decision making. Our goal is not raise insecure people pleasers. Our goal is to teach them to know themselves; to know what gives them self esteem and satisfaction. We must set the example of putting God’s opinion over our own.

  4. Alex Tang on February 5, 2011 at 1:53 am

    I believe we can both be responsive and demanding parents. It is not a either/or as we have been taught but both/and. Children need to know what, how and why we feel about them. They also need to know boundaries within which they are safe to grow and become. “Passive” parenting removes boundaries believing boundaries may handicap a child’s development. It is a fallacy and have destroyed many children.

    We in Asia may have a different approach. We exhibit “tough” love, imposing our will on a young child until he or she is old enough to make responsible and reasonable decisions. Then we relax the rules. This is the Confucian way. Itis not perfect but then there is no such thing as perfect parenting. There is only “human” parenting.

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Tiger Moms: A Whole New Way of Parenting (Part II)