A group of my closest girlfriends and I are interested in the controversial concept of the "Tiger Mom". Our interest was therefore peaked by an article published by Stanford University this past week that described work being done by researchers Alyssa Fu and Hazel Markus. Fu and Markus looked at the differences between "Asian and Western parenting styles" and they came to some interesting conclusions based upon data that included 342 interviews with students asked to give open-ended descriptions of their mothers. While Fu and Markus's findings about cultural differences they characterize, as 'interdependence' and 'independence' are quite interesting, they left my dear friend Amelia pondering a question that really intrigued me:
What about the fathers? Where is all the discussion about the "Tiger Dads"?
In case you are unfamiliar, the term "Tiger Mom" sprang into the spotlight in 2011 with Amy Chua's book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. While Ms. Chua used the term in her book to reference strict parenting techniques that she believed were typically encountered in Chinese parenting styles, the term has become controversial. Some people use it as a pejorative while others wear it as a badge of honor. Some people think of the term as a verb rather than a noun; to them, the term "Tiger Mom" represents the never-ending dance between trying to be supportive of their children while teaching them self-reliance. Regardless of the definition being used, I find the "Tiger" part of the term loaded and the "Mom" part somewhat troublesome.
Looking around at the families that I have a close enough relationship to be able to observe with some degree of depth, most have parents who seem, to me at least, to have jointly achieved their parenting equilibrium. As always, there are differences of opinion on individual issues (one parent feels the other is being overly strict or too lenient on a given issue), but in general, it seems that there is a mutually agreed upon family culture. Using "strict parenting" as a barometer, I can think of many fathers who fit that definition as much or more than their spouse. Yet the focus seems to be on the moms.
I'm certain Tiger Dads are out there. Are we shortchanging their importance by focusing on moms?