The Tiger Mother Controversy: A False Alternative

The Tiger Mother controversy sets up a false alternative between "Western" and "Eastern" parenting.  Western parenting is the liberal parenting method of coddling children and shielding them from the natural consequences of their failures in order to protect their self-esteem.  Eastern parenting is the tyrannical method of destroying a child's individuality through psychological and even physical abuse in order to shoehorn the child into a one-size-fits-all mold of perfection.  Both methods ignore basic facts of human nature and historical facts about what actually leads to success.

Liberal (Western) parenting starts with the false premise that self-esteem is something a child is born with and which must be protected.  The truth is that self-esteem must be earned through self-achievement and that in an environment where failure is not possible, neither is achievement.  By attempting to shield their children from the supposedly damaging effects of failure, liberal parents have made it impossible for their children to mature into independent adults.  The evidence is all around us today, where we have millions of Americans who are deathly afraid of being responsible for their own lives and who clamor ever louder for a paternal government that will replace their mommies in making all the tough decisions in their lives and taking care of them from cradle to grave in an Orwellian welfare state.

Eastern parenting seeks to destroy the most basic value for success: independence.  From the bird that pushes its young out of the nest to the lion that teaches its cub how to hunt, every species on this planet has figured out the most basic function of a parent:  teach your offspring not to need you.  Every species, that is, except for the Tiger Mother. 

Human beings are not interchangeable parts or clones to be programmed according to the wishes of some central bureaucracy of the Communist Party or by the Borg Collective.  We are all unique individuals whose very nature demands that we choose our own values and achieve them through our own effort.  What happens when you attempt to ignore this fact of reality?  You get highly educated, psychologically scarred piano players who have disproportionately high suicide rates and none of the success in life that was supposed to be the payment for all the abuse and suffering they had to endure.

If Eastern parenting delivers on its promises, then why does it take an Andrew Carnegie to create the wealth that makes Carnegie Hall possible for Tiger children to show off their piano skills?  Where is the Chinese version of Henry Ford, whose mother died when he was 13 and who left the family farm at 16 to make his own way in life?  Why does it take Bill Gates and Michael Dell, two American college dropouts, to create the companies that employ tens of thousands of these Tiger children?  Why does the U.S., even while saddled with the disease of liberalism still produce almost three times the GDP of China with less than one quarter of China's population and a far shorter history?  Why is so much Chinese progress the result of shameless copying and stealing of U.S. achievements?

The answer to the questions I pose is that there is a superior style of parenting: the American style.  The American style of parenting is that which embraces the values and virtues required by human nature: independence, rationality, productiveness, pride, honesty, justice, integrity, honor, and happiness.  These are the values and virtues upon which this great country was founded and which unleashed the torrent of productivity that is keeping the world alive today.  It is the only style of parenting and of living that is compatible with man's nature and which can allow each individual to develop his full potential and to achieve success and happiness in whatever field of endeavor he chooses to pursue.
The Tiger Mother controversy sets up a false alternative between "Western" and "Eastern" parenting.  Western parenting is the liberal parenting method of coddling children and shielding them from the natural consequences of their failures in order to protect their self-esteem.  Eastern parenting is the tyrannical method of destroying a child's individuality through psychological and even physical abuse in order to shoehorn the child into a one-size-fits-all mold of perfection.  Both methods ignore basic facts of human nature and historical facts about what actually leads to success.

Liberal (Western) parenting starts with the false premise that self-esteem is something a child is born with and which must be protected.  The truth is that self-esteem must be earned through self-achievement and that in an environment where failure is not possible, neither is achievement.  By attempting to shield their children from the supposedly damaging effects of failure, liberal parents have made it impossible for their children to mature into independent adults.  The evidence is all around us today, where we have millions of Americans who are deathly afraid of being responsible for their own lives and who clamor ever louder for a paternal government that will replace their mommies in making all the tough decisions in their lives and taking care of them from cradle to grave in an Orwellian welfare state.

Eastern parenting seeks to destroy the most basic value for success: independence.  From the bird that pushes its young out of the nest to the lion that teaches its cub how to hunt, every species on this planet has figured out the most basic function of a parent:  teach your offspring not to need you.  Every species, that is, except for the Tiger Mother. 

Human beings are not interchangeable parts or clones to be programmed according to the wishes of some central bureaucracy of the Communist Party or by the Borg Collective.  We are all unique individuals whose very nature demands that we choose our own values and achieve them through our own effort.  What happens when you attempt to ignore this fact of reality?  You get highly educated, psychologically scarred piano players who have disproportionately high suicide rates and none of the success in life that was supposed to be the payment for all the abuse and suffering they had to endure.

If Eastern parenting delivers on its promises, then why does it take an Andrew Carnegie to create the wealth that makes Carnegie Hall possible for Tiger children to show off their piano skills?  Where is the Chinese version of Henry Ford, whose mother died when he was 13 and who left the family farm at 16 to make his own way in life?  Why does it take Bill Gates and Michael Dell, two American college dropouts, to create the companies that employ tens of thousands of these Tiger children?  Why does the U.S., even while saddled with the disease of liberalism still produce almost three times the GDP of China with less than one quarter of China's population and a far shorter history?  Why is so much Chinese progress the result of shameless copying and stealing of U.S. achievements?

The answer to the questions I pose is that there is a superior style of parenting: the American style.  The American style of parenting is that which embraces the values and virtues required by human nature: independence, rationality, productiveness, pride, honesty, justice, integrity, honor, and happiness.  These are the values and virtues upon which this great country was founded and which unleashed the torrent of productivity that is keeping the world alive today.  It is the only style of parenting and of living that is compatible with man's nature and which can allow each individual to develop his full potential and to achieve success and happiness in whatever field of endeavor he chooses to pursue.