I Don’t Want to be a Tiger Mom

I teach my children to read, I teach them Math, I teach them music, I teach them Science, and I’m trying to teach them a second language even though I myself cannot speak another language proficiently other than English. In many respects, I may appear to look and sound like a Tiger Mom and yet, I’m not – at least I hope I am not. But there are some days when I have to wonder if I am a tiger in sheep skin and I have to keep reminding myself what my goals for my children are as far as their early childhood development is concerned.

What is the purpose of doing all this so early? Well, I believe, as Montessori, Doman, Shichida and many other early childhood educators do, that this is the period of life when learning is easiest. Build a solid foundation and you will have given your child the best start to success possible – or so I believe. One there is a foundation, it is easier for your children to build upon that foundation.

What sort of success do I hope for my children? I hope that they will be great at whatever career path they choose and that they will have a passion for what they do. In short, I hope that they will be happy. I don’t care if they are the top of their class in school or if they are mediocre. What matters is that they do well enough to choose what they want to do in life.

What do I want for them in school? I want them to be able to do well enough at school without having to spend extra hours in tuition classes after school, or spend hours upon hours on homework. I want them to live life fully and that means being able to do other things that they enjoy besides attending school and doing homework. Of course, I also hope that they will enjoy school, that they will love to learn and that they will find school interesting.

When I look over what I want for my children, I don’t think that it is too much to ask for. But when I examine the schools and talk to fellow mothers with children, I cannot help but fear what is in store for my children. When I was checking out potential schools for Gavin, I remember the feeling of dread descending upon me as I walked into the grounds of a school I had never even attended when I was young. Considering that I was raised largely in Australia where school was relatively easy-going compared to what it is here, I cannot help but feel discouraged because I can’t imagine my children enjoying school and relishing the learning experience.

Why do we look at school as some sort of rite of passage that all children must go through in order to become responsible adults contributing to society? If I could do away with school and replace it with another means to help my children find a career based on their passions, I would gladly do it. Unfortunately, the only way forward I know is the route that I took – school.

So now, everything I look at is intended to help my children get through their 12 years of school as painlessly as possible. I look at what are the things I can do to help ensure that they get through school without having to attend extra classes after school to make it. Although my fear gets the better of me at times, I take heart in reading articles like “Finland’s Educational Success – The Anti-Tiger Mother Approach” where the school days are shorter than average, the children only have an hour of homework, and all the children are doing well. The Finns have proven with their relatively laid back educational program that it is possible to rank among the top three in math, reading and science without having to employ the heavy-handed approach to education that the Tiger Mother was known for.

If there was a way for children to excel at school without having to crack the whip and spend hours upon hours studying everyday, wouldn’t you want it for your child? Because then your child can spend more time discovering what he is truly passionate about and work towards a career that fuels that passion.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

2 thoughts on “I Don’t Want to be a Tiger Mom

  1. Perhaps the most important question for you to ask yourself is : Am I still passionate in my career path I chose before till now or am I not”, if affirmative, then the education system is to certain degree an ideal one, if otherwise and still lament on it, then I believe the problem lies within individual, irrespective of place of study, languange used and etc. I always think right brain education is all talking about life skills, a skill that either acquire since young, or lose it since young, I strongly believe right brain education is not to ONLY teach the child to just to be able to read words, to do maths and to write later, that are all too shallow, I believe it is to be something more profound, and its ultimate should be to help the child to acquire life skills for instance photographic memory, speed read, mental calculation and so on, and it is rather easy to acquire these skills since birth, but somewhat difficult if not impossible to pick up after 6. Who would believe a child at age 2 could pick up 12timetables through listening by just letting the Cds on ? Or a young at 5 could do double digit timetables by just listening by an adult doing fast reading to her several rounds ? or a young at 4/5 could do speed read for 70 pages book less than 30 mins, so painless, so effortless. So perhaps it is suffice to say that if a parent were to follow strictly right brain method would have deeply understood that long study hours is totally unnecessary. That also plainly explain why acquisition of such life skills are so vital. “Because then our child can spend more time discovering what (s)he is truly passionate about and work towards a career that fuels that passion” as stated in your post here. Since we can’t escape from universal schooling system, even with home-schooling, still there is a system to follow to justify the level eventually. So perhaps the most ideal is to help them now to acquire life skills in to provide them with solid foundation and to relieve stress later is all what we want to help our child. Right brain education is the best start in life.


    1. Fz, I think that is the problem. Education for me went very wrong. I was among the top in my school and ended up in Dentistry just because I was “good enough” and because my parents wanted me to. I was not “smart” even though a lot of people thought I was. I was good because I worked hard. But despite all the efforts I put into academia, I found no passion in dentistry and I wasted many years trying to find my true passion. I do not want this for my children.

      I think a lot of people misunderstand right brain education, but you have an excellent grasp of it. That is exactly why I want my children to do right brain education – not just for those minor skills but for the lifestyle it will afford them. The ability to choose what they want to do in life and to excel at it without having to spend hours and hours studying, or to struggle through school because they find it difficult to grasp the concepts being taught.

      I apologise for always writing “he” when I speak of the children. I do so only because I have two sons. It is a force of habit. If I had been blessed with two girls, I’m sure my blog would always be referring to “she”.


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