This week I finished reading Amy Chua's book, Battle Hymn of A Tiger Mom. If any of you remember, Chua's book gained notoriety due to her "strict" and sometimes seemly "authoritarian" parenting-style. Chua however, described herself as a typical Chinese mother...a "Tiger Mom". None of us are strangers to the stereotyping about people of Asian descent (mostly Chinese and Indian), being brainiacs and wiz kids. I began reading this book because I wanted to look into the stereotype for myself and (to be truthful) pick up some tips to help my children get amazing grades for this school year. What I found was that besides traditional family beliefs, there was also the idea of training the child as opposed to raising the child (which according to Chua is a Western ideology). Many of the Asian familial and child rearing beliefs are founded on the ideas of Confucius' Chiao Shun (training) and Guan (govern and love). These concepts have been described as strict by a lot of parents, while others have viewed them as just a difference in culture.
This got me to thinking about what the bible had to say regarding a mother's attitude toward academic success for her children. Should I, as a Christian, be a "Tiger Mom"?
According to a study conducted by Ruth K. Chao of the University of California (1), there are 13 training items to this concept; with the exception of 2 (which involve parent/child co-sleeping) we will discuss 11 and how they correlate with the Bible.
1. Children by nature are born good. - While some may say that no one is born good because we are all born sinners, this statement is referencing a child's way of thinking and seeing life.
Biblical support: "But Jesus said, Suffer little children and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven."- Matthew 19:14
2. Parents must begin training a child as soon as their ready- This one maybe a bit tricky because who's to say what is ready for anything. But I think its safe to say us parents kind of get a discernment for when our children are capable of learning new things and we should support that ability as soon as we see it.
Biblical support: If you remember correctly David was a young boy shepherding his father's sheep, he stood up to Goliath with great faith (1 Samuel 17). Jesus himself was a young boy of 12 years old when he stayed behind in Jerusalem to hear the teachers and then soon left to be about his father's business (Luke 2:41-52).
3. Children can improve in almost anything if they work hard- We are constantly called to practice righteousness throughout the bible, this just goes with the adage that "practice makes perfect" no matter what it is your practicing.
Biblical Support: "Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." -Phillipians 4:9
4. Mothers must train children to work very hard and be disciplined- Of course we all want well-behaved and responsible hard working children.
Biblical Support: "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men" - Colossians 3:23
5. Mothers teach children by pointing out good behaviors in other people- I don't know about you but I do this all the time. Most of the time I use biblical figures as examples.
Biblical Support: Aside from the fact that Jesus referenced people from the Old Testament all the time. There are so many examples: need bravery (David), a lustful son (Samson), unconditional love (Jesus), Jealousy (Cain and Abel) and the list goes on and on.
6. The best way children learn how to behave is to be around adults- Let alone the fact that we all read about Never Never Land and the lost boys. Parental presence is all too necessary in the proper raising of a child, even Jesus needed a mother and teachers while he was here on earth.
Biblical Support: see again Luke 2:41-52
Who knew right?!? It's look like according to our list so far, those Tiger Moms maybe on to something...check back next week for the second half our list and your finally decision on whether you should be a Christian Tiger Mom!
Jump into Are You A Christian Tiger Mom?- Pt. 2
1 Chao, Ruth K. Beyond Parental Control and Authoritarian Parenting Style: Understanding Chinese Parenting through the Cultural Notion of Training. Child Development, 1994, 65, 1111-1119