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‘Tiger Mom Jumps the Shark; Meet ‘Panda Dad

Panda Dad

Raise your hand if you'd rather cuddle with a panda than sleep with a tiger

Is anyone else over the Tiger Mom? Like, so over her? And now her kid got into Harvard. Hooray for her kid and also for what will inevitably be a surge in Amy Chua’s book sales with all of the nonstop press she’s been getting for months (you’re welcome from all of us here at Babble, Amy). But frankly, when did attending Harvard mark the ultimate in success for every kid in every family?

If you’re as sick as the Tiger Mom as I am, then you’ll be happy to know that another animal parent, Panda Dad, is now getting his 15 minutes.

Alan Paul, a freelance writer and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, lives in China with his wife and three kids. Instead of being a super-strict parent, Paul, the Panda Dad, thinks cuddly with just a little bit of claw is the way to go.

He writes:
Time in China…taught me that while some here view a Chinese education as the gold standard, many there are questioning the system, noting that it stifles creativity and innovation, two things the nation sorely needs. Further, having seen it in action, I have a strong aversion to hard-driving “Tiger” parenting, certain that is not a superior method if your goals are my goals: to raise independent, competent, confident adults.

Call me the Panda Dad; I am happy to parent with cuddliness, but not afraid to show some claw. Though I have had primary child care duties since our eldest son was born 13 years ago, I too have always worked, sometimes juggling a variety of demanding deadlines with an increasingly complex family schedule. As a result, controlled chaos reigns in our house and it works for us, even if this has befuddled some friends and family members and sent weak-kneed babysitters scurrying for the door.

He argues that depriving kids of the chance to learn and practice social skills (like banning sleepovers and playdates, as Chua advocates), deprives them of the chance to develop “true interests and self-motivated passions.”

I agree with him, and it makes me wonder: Is Harvard a dream for Chua’s kid, or it is a dream that was learned?

Regardless, it’s nice to read that another parent also believes that kids should succeed for their own benefit, not for their parents or to prove that their parents are successful.

“It’s sheer narcissism to believe that your child’s every success and failure is a reflection of your worth. Get over yourself,” he writes.

Panda Dad also issues a reminder that raising children is not a science, and neither Tiger Mom (may she now slink back quietly into the jungle from whence she came) nor anyone else has the answer.

How do you feel about Panda Dad? Is he more in line with your parenting philosophy than the Tiger Mom?

Image: Wikipedia

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