FLIP SIDE: School of thought on the tiger mom

By Daphne Drohobyczer
The Scene staff

What is a tiger mom? It’s a parent who has some of these characteristics: pushing her child to excel, perhaps sending him or her to a Montessori school; enrolling the child in a gifted program, testing his or her IQ at an early age; trying out different private schools; even starting college preparatory testing by the fourth grade.

Controversial books on the subject raise the question, “is being a tiger mom the right thing to do?”

I would say “yes.” Again, we are talking about parents whose kids are being prepped for the SAT much earlier than normal, kids who play several musical instruments, are star athletes and expect to be on track toward a high-income occupation.

A tiger mom is a one who cares sincerely about advancing her child academically ever since, well, when he or she was a baby. We are talking about parents who send young children to Suzuki method music lessons; put them in highly ranked Montessori schools so that they can skip grades; and may bargain with administrators to ensure their child has the top academic ranking in their senior class.

I think all of these are great qualities for a parent; of course, there are also “tiger dads” – men who cooperate with their spouses.

I know a number of tiger moms (and dads) whose kids attend prestigious schools and universities. A woman at Barnes and Noble whom I have known for about five years asks for ideas about how she can advance her child’s studies. One piece of advice I offered: have him join the debate team. She’s also ask for my input on her son’s school essays.

He just completed his first year at MICDS (Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School), my alma mater. He also is preparing to attend debate camp. Without a doubt, I also suggested he join school newspaper staff. Personally, I enjoyed being in the newspaper-debate crowd and enjoy reliving aspects of this experience in my daily life.

Tiger moms bring their kids’ awareness and consciousness to a higher level. When  children learn how to play the violin, they are exercising skills that bring them a passion for the arts; when they practice SATs in the fourth grade, their intellect could be matched with that of a much older student; when they attend a summer debate institute, they are interacting with peers who are all not only intelligent, but also fun and intellectual. This interaction is in itself both edifying and enlightening.

Tiger moms (and dads) are in charge of leading their child to these destinations; searching for such academic pursuits is their responsibility – and once they embrace that, the sky is the limit.

Being a tiger mom does not necessarily mean her child will be headed to Harvard, Yale or Princeton – though it can. Being a tiger mom means that you give your all to your child; it makes no difference where he or she ends up.

I know another tiger parent couple who is watching as their child skips grades while participating in Pattonville’s Program for Exceptionally Gifted Students, or PEGS. Sending him to kindergarten at a private school failed to meet expectations, and they found that the Pattonville school system was particularly helpful in providing them with high standards for child prodigies to advance quickly.

To conclude, a tiger mom dominantly holds the characteristics of who I described in this article: A mother who encourages advanced intelligence, pushing the child to excel in studies, giving motivation to excel, giving the tools to excel and succeed, supporting the child through to adulthood, allowing the child to focus on studies, promoting an honor code to abide and live by, and even serve academia with insight to spread among the greater humanity. Tiger moms encourage, support and inspire their children. For the most part, tiger moms succeed, so do not be afraid to be a tiger mom.