The Reluctant Tiger Mom

Let me get this straight, I don’t think I will ever nor would I want to have the same level of “tigerness” as Battle Hymn Of A Tiger Mom author Amy Chua. When I read her book I waffled between being horrified at the extent of her strict discipline and extravagance when it came to her parenting her daughters but at the same time admired her commitment in following through her daughter’s studies and piano lessons despite having full work schedule herself. But definitely am a hands-on mom especially when it comes to my son’s school and activities.

However, I never really thought I would start this early…in Kindergarten. Truth be told, if given the choice I would rather have him play and read the whole day in this young age. No tvs or video games though, but no writing, reading and math drills either. Except for reading and piano, I have put off and avoided having classroom-type instruction in the house for as long as I could because I wanted him to enjoy as much of his childhood as possible.

The thing is however once in the school setting it becomes a problem if you have a son who doesn’t want to do stuff because he thinks he’s not good at it. Case in point, when he was in pre-school he didn’t want to do craft projects. I found out through my interaction with him it was because he had a hard time handling scissors and pencils. Problem solved when we practiced in the house for a few days. Another example, he didn’t want to do writing and coloring in Kindergarten. After I showed him a technique on how to color with crayons AND do writing exercises at home, I now get a feedback from the teacher of a marked improvement in his involvement in these activities.

I still struggle with it though. I feel bad letting him spend a couple hours a day, everyday doing these study sessions (including piano and school homework) when he is already in school for 6 hours. Sometimes I would think how nice it would be to homeschool my son so he’ll get more time to play. I never remember studying this hard when I was his age. My parents were relaxed about our studies. And I was still an honor student. Until I got into second grade. My math performance slid when we got to doing division. What did my father do? Took away the tv (I was a Flor De Luna soap opera addict) for a couple of weeks. Looking back I wish they could have done something more. Like sitting down with me and help figure out what makes math my waterloo? Because since then I grew up thinking math was hard and was intimidated by it. Because of math I thought I would never be an honor student again. So I never really put an effort in my studies.

Which I would later regret later in college and when I was looking for a job. I felt that if I had better grades there would be more opportunities for me (scholarships maybe, grants?). I guess this is why I want to be involved in Evan’s studies because, particularly with his attitude of not wanting to do things at what he is not good at, I want it ingrained in his psyche that with practice and hard work he can be good at anything he wants. And if like me he runs into problems which makes it difficult to do or solve some stuff, I want to guide him in learning techniques that would make it easier for him to understand. I also want to start with him being disciplined in his studies as early as now because I suspect it’ll only get harder as he grows older.

Still it is not easy to do. Some days there are struggles and battles, on other days I have full cooperation. But we are getting rewards so that keeps us going. I make sure that when he does something well in school or in piano, it was because he worked hard on it. I try to make it as fun as possible though. Just like in the video below, this was for our writing/spelling exercise in one. Instead of letting him do drills (which I hated as a child) I let him write an adventure story instead. I promised him that I was going to make it into a real book and movie. It also gave me the chance for him to practice his drawing and Photoshop.

Viewing the end product gave us both a thrill (he wrote this last January, he is writing his third “book” now), but now Evan wants his movie to have real action and dialog in it. That my son, we have to use Adobe Flash. That’s another thing we can study in the future. See? Who needs video games and the iPad? There are so many fun things to learn. You can even create your own video games and apps – then sell it, earn money and buy all the toys you want. Having a Tiger Mom, albeit reluctant, might have its advantages. Maybe you’ll thank me for it later. =)

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7 Responses to The Reluctant Tiger Mom

  1. Ed says:

    I find myself struggling too on this subject. I want my daughter to be good at what she does and realize she can do anything but I try to refrain from teaching her school stuff at home. My reason is that because as an advanced grade school student myself, I was always very bored in school because I already knew 90% of the stuff. This caused me to relax and miss the 10% of the stuff or at least not learn it to my full potential. My parents tried to get the school to skip me a grade but with a small rural school, that just wasn’t an option. So despite graduating Valedictorian of my class, I had to play catch up in college on the stuff that I should have learned in high school had I not been so bored. I have always regretted my ‘missed’ opportunity of what I could have done had I not been bored. I don’t want my daughter to have that regret.

    Excellent post!

  2. Loraine says:

    Wow, that’s a great story Evan!

    Sometimes I think I will be a tiger mom but I think Benji is more like Lulu, the rebel daughter.

  3. emilie says:

    Love the story and reading Evan! You have the makings of a great writer (just like your dad). You inspire me.

  4. geri says:

    Ed, did you have good study habits at home is that why you were an advanced student? My family didn’t have good study habits that’s why I am kind of paranoid about this. I probably wouldn’t be teaching Evan school stuff at home (except for piano lessons) this early if the teacher didn’t express concern about his lack of participation during writing and coloring activities. Luckily it was quickly remedied and I just try to think that might as well starting his study habits early before it becomes a problem when he is bigger.

    Loraine, Evan is easy going pretty much of the time but he has his moments too. Do you know that Sophia has a blog? I am a fan of hers =) http://tigersophia.blogspot.com/

    Em, Evan had this big smile when he read your comment and Loraine’s. He told me last night that he wants to learn Flash when he is still 5. Haguy unsaon na lang hahaha

  5. Ed says:

    I rarely studied at anything until I was in high school which is one of those things that I regret. I am fairly certain that had I applied myself more, I wouldn’t have gotten myself into the predicament that I did when I arrived at college. In grade school through high school I was bored because I learned things much quicker than my peers. In college though, we took classes with our mental peers and weren’t so slowed down by those who couldn’t or didn’t want to learn the subject at hand like we were in high school. The result? I just about sank myself in college and at one point was on academic probation. I spent many a long night in college catching up on those 10% of things I missed in high school and learning good study habits. In the end, I graduated with academic honors but I most definitely didn’t have the highest GPA among my peer group. Had I not dug myself such a huge hole with my poor study habits those first few years, who knows.

    I hope to encourage my daughter to have good study habits regardless of whether or not she needs to in school so hopefully she doesn’t repeat my mistake.

  6. Ed says:

    That first sentence should have read:

    I rarely studied at anything until I was in college

  7. geri says:

    Ed, that’s still very impressive about not having to really study until you were in college. I wouldn’t have gotten away with it, I would be getting failing marks all over if I didn’t at least do some cramming before mid-terms and finals. Having academic honors in college is still an achievement! I would have loved to have that (although in Fine Arts, at least in our school, it was generally hard to get really good grades from the majors because a teacher liking a student’s art is dependent on the teacher’s taste though my grades in minors weren’t that great though).

    What I get from some of the parents here though is that the teacher’s are more involved and quick to communicate with the parent if there is a concern so that it’s helpful, although at preschool and kindergarten I wonder if it’s over-reacting sometimes. Still I appreciate the feedback partly because of my paranoia.

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