There are a lot of theories running rampant in the parenting world these days. One term coined by author and Yale law professor, Amy Chua, is now known as “tiger mom”. What is a tiger mom, exactly? Wikipedia states it as “a term which refers to a strict or demanding mother who pushes her children to be successful academically by attaining high levels of scholastic and academic achievement, using methods regarded as typical of childrearing in East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia to the detriment of the child’s social, physical, psychological and emotional well-being.”
This term has been running through my brain as my 9-year-old daughter mentions to me that she’d like to take a break from Irish dance. I was honestly surprised to hear this, as she seemed to love it. But when we had a discussion to get to the root of the problem, I realized it wasn’t the school, the other kids, the performances or the program… it was the practicing that was bothering her.
I said, “I’ve got tough news for you, kid. You’re going to have that problem in anything you try. At some point, you’re going to have to start working at it if you want to get better.”
My own parents pushed me to study classical piano for twelve years, which I loathed. Every single Tuesday I had to endure going to my lessons, when I would have given anything to be taking dancing classes or basically anything else. And yet here I am, a professional musician, writer and composer—mainly in part due to those piano lessons.
The rule in our house is to complete activities. You can’t just stop in the middle of something. Finish out the year or the season. But I’m at a crossroads: if practicing is the problem, do we address better practice strategies? Do we leave the dance she loves altogether and try something else? Will she hit this wall every time?
So I’m not sure whether it’s better to take the “tiger mom” or the “sloth mom” approach; the former being to push the kid past the struggle point, and the latter just drink excessive amounts of wine and let them figure it out. Saves me a lot of money on dancing shoes and wigs, right?
I often wondered if parenting gets easier as they get older. It doesn’t. Parenting doesn’t get cheaper, either. And neither does the wine.