• Tiger Mom

    by Jesse Loren

    Imagine the majority of American students reading long texts about complex issues and raising deep, rhetorical questions while also connecting new learning to recent understanding. Imagine the ecstasy of heated conversations about the interpretation of Foucault or Goethe by the intrigued sophomore who already wrestles with philosophy, history, and politics. Imagine this nubile population later poised to take on leadership roles across America as college freshmen, comparing philosophy with behavioral psychology, and then comparing it to Persian poetry, literature, and art. YES.

    Does it sound like rapture, or is it just me?

    I will tell you, this utopia is impossible, unless our school’s rosters are populated by the children of Tiger Moms.

    Amy Chua is the author of the memoir, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. An excerpt from the memoir recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal under the inflammatory headline, “Why Chinese mothers are superior.” The WSJ article definitely piqued my interest in parenting styles!

    Imagine a million Amy Chua-like parents prodding their children to master poetry, literature, piano and violin. Imagine every American child aiming for the top spot in the class. If you build it, I will come.

    Aside from the many hats I wear, including parent, I also teach high school English. After 15 years of teaching – 10 at the same high school, including many years of teaching freshmen and seniors – I have a bit of experience with parents.

    My most recent negative experiences with parents have been with parents who lied on behalf of their kids. Not little lies, either. Big, assisted-their-children-with-cheating-on-their-final-projects lies. These parents lied to protect their kids from the consequences of cheating. When confronted, they aimed at the teacher. Ouch.

    Surely little Johnny would never falsify letters of recommendation… at least not all of them…

    Apparently, for some, it is easier to attack and threaten a teacher than it is to teach morals or accountability. I can’t imagine the Amy Chuas of the world covering for their children’s cheating. No, those kids know what hard work is and they also reap the benefits.

    Instead of teaching right from wrong, many American parents are chomping at the bit to lie, deceive, and cover up for their children’s inadequacies. Many are indulgent in purchasing gaming, phones, and dance-dance technology that does absolutely nothing for their growth, but temporarily shuts-up the teenage boogers’ incessant whining for new stuff.

    “But Bobby’s mom bought him the new “i-whatchamagigee”, why can’t I have one?!”

    These parents confuse love with commerce.

    And there you have the fate of a nation: The spoiled, over-indulged, bloated-capitalist children versus the Stepford children of Chua. Personally, I’ll take the Chua parent over the indulgent parent any day of the week, especially during finals!

    While I am throwing parents under the bus, I would like to mention that one very concerned dad called my cell phone to apologize for his son’s cheating as well as his wife’s lies to cover up the cheating. He was so embarrassed that he called me from his garage. He said he couldn’t even look at them.

    He asked that his son face the consequences of his actions and supported making his son recreate the correct assignment, even if he didn’t get credit. That one father calling from his garage, so embarrassed by his wife’s knee jerk reaction to protect her son rather than to teach him responsibility, renewed my faith in parents. Thanks dad. I can go to work another day!

    Maybe all parents don’t have to be Amy Chua, but instilling the values of honesty, integrity, perseverance, and respect would go a long, long way.

    • I totally agree with you Jesse. I also want to get rid of helicoptering parents who are right there all the time to settle all things related to their kids. I say let the kids fend for themselves-they do so much better and learn that real life is about responsibility and acceptance. They learn to accept their faults and well as their virtues. They learn about consequences and making choices. Thanks for this article-it needs to be talked about today.

      • Jesse

      • February 14, 2011 at 5:40 pm
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      I am with you Madge. Helicopter parents make for a childhood that stretches into adulthood. JL

      • Scott

      • February 14, 2011 at 9:52 pm
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      I don’t have this problem anymore, but I sympathize from my days at the private school. I sometimes wish that the parents of my students cared enough about them to intervene, lie or cheat. Or feed them.

      • Rex

      • February 14, 2011 at 10:42 pm
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      I find it astounding that others think the same way I do. I commend you on your statements regarding holding the parents accountable for the actions they take that allow a child to discover that cheating is ok. I found it difficult to hold my children accountable for their assignments when so many around them did not. Perhaps it is a new awakening…. I am too jaundiced to think so, but perhaps…..

      • Jesse

      • February 15, 2011 at 7:02 am
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      The situation here is cheating across a the board on a class assignment with parents more willing to cover for their kids than seek the truth. Aside from this one Hidden Dragon of a dad who called me, virtually all of the mom’s lied for their students. It is astounding… but what is more astounding is the ease at which the parents moral fiber wafts like willow to any wind. At least the one dad had some moral fiber- Moral bamboo!

      • Jesse

      • February 15, 2011 at 7:03 am
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      • Jennifer

      • February 15, 2011 at 8:50 am
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      I think that one reason that parents might lie for their children is that they are so afraid for their future and don’t know the right way to help them. It’s hard to let your kids sink or swim on their own efforts. I recently saw my oldest enter and lose a speech contest mostly because he didn’t tailor his political message appropriately for his audience. But if I had stepped in and told him exactly how to do it, he wouldn’t have had the passion for it or said what he wanted to.

      That being said, our kids do need our energy and help, especially with schools as stretched as they are. We can’t put everything on the teachers and need to really step in and make sure they learn. The idea of the Tiger Mom is a little offensive to non-Asians, but they are at least putting forth the energy into assuring their kids learn. We should do the same in our own way.

      Good article, Jesse!

      • Sara

      • February 16, 2011 at 3:38 am
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      Jesse, I’ve been in education just slightly shorter than you have, but I’ve noticed this trend becoming more and more pervasive just in the last few years. Not only do helicopter parents infuriate me, especially at the high school level when students should be learning to handle things like a mature adult, but it saddens me to see just how much people rely upon the schools to raise their children. Yet, when the schools/teachers try to discipline those same children, we are suddenly told that we aren’t that child’s parent. You can’t have your cake and eat it to people!

      I wish I could recall the exact numbers from the recent study that examined cheating amongst top ranked students. The numbers were alarming. Anything to get ahead, as long as you get the desired outcome. It’s a damn shame, and only getting worse.

      • Melinda

      • February 16, 2011 at 6:33 pm
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      Parents do so many weird things in the name of “helping” their children. I know I have stepped in when I shouldn’t have on more than one occasion. That being said, I would never cover up for my children in the way you describe. I don’t understand people who think that dishonesty is an acceptable way to get ahead. I also think, though, that sometimes “tiger moms” can get in the way of their children’s success by pushing a bit TOO hard. I’ve seen more than one student crash and burn because they were so overwhelmed by their parents’ demands.
      I guess it all boils down to balance and integrity. Know what is important, teach it to your children, and trust them to make good decisions based on what you have taught them.
      Simple, right? Hmmmm…..

      • Scott

      • February 16, 2011 at 6:38 pm
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      Fabulous! I have been teaching now for almost thirty years, and parents have gone from being partners and support for the moral education schools are trying to provide to being absent, indifferent, unengaged or hostile. It is disheartening, especially when we can see their child’s potential and visualize the critical role they will play in the evolution of humanity when they come of age. Thanks, Ms. Loren!

      • Jesse

      • February 16, 2011 at 6:41 pm
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      Jennifer, I think you are generally right about parents being afraid for the future of their children, but mainly because they lack direction on how to be leaders. Parents are leaders who lead by example. Parents instill values and provide moral, intellectual, spiritual, physical and environmental direction for kids. This process begins with birth and continues on into adulthood. By the time kids are 17,18, the age of my students, they have likely had a lot of guidance toward honestly, responsibility and knowing whether or not to falsify documents. Writing fake letters of recommendation about merit, conduct or accomplishment and falsifying a signature is straight forgery.

      The irony for this is that the assignment was given to help them collect the items they will need as they prepare to graduate high school and go on to adulthood.
      I think for young kids, one needs to protect and guide, but for the teens, one needs to protect them from themselves. JL

    • I wish I had parents to lie for me. If I did I wouldn’t have gotten thrown out of English Comp. for writing stupid stories. Now Debra lies for me.

      • Robin Burton

      • February 16, 2011 at 11:18 pm
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      Thank Jesse. This needed to be said. I told my sons that their job was to do their absolute best in school and our job was to do our best to provide opportunities for them to make the most of their talents and abilities. We had very few rules, but my sons knew that any infringement of the basic rules meant absolute restriction of their liberties. The rules were to never cheat, never lie, and never hurt anyone intentionally. I have absolute confidence that neither of my sons (now adults) would ever compromise their principles or ethics for self-aggrandizement. Sadly, I suspect that honor and principles are now vastly underrated these days. I have had numerous conversations with people who think I am strange for thinking integrity is more important than getting something for nothing. It makes me afraid for the future of the human race. But your passion for dedicating yourself to “instilling the values of honesty, integrity, perseverance, and respect” gives me great hope. Thanks for not giving up on our kids.

      • Dora L.Arias

      • February 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm
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      I agree with Robin. I commend you for your dedication in teaching. It’s interesting that a father would step up to the plate to tell his son to face the consequences of his own actions. It’s sad his wife wasn’t in agreement. Don’t give up the faith, sister. There are still people out there with moral fiber!

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