Saturday, February 4, 2012

Are you a tiger or an ostrich parent?

“Are you a Tiger or an Ostrich Parent?”
Sun.Star Davao, Feb. 4, 2012

I’m sure many of you have heard of or read the controversial memoir by Yale law professor Amy Chua, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”. I was able to buy a copy last summer and found it amusing and yet thought-provoking. After reading the bestseller, it made me wonder if I had been a tiger mother on some occasion, although, on a much lesser scale.

To give you an insight of her life, Chua was raised by equally high-achieving Filipino-Chinese parents who immigrated to the U.S. in the early ‘60s. She grew up in a household that used the more traditional and strict Asian parenting method.

Years later, when she had her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, the magna cum laude graduate did not hesitate to utilize that same parenting approach.

For instance, her kids were forbidden to watch TV, play computer games, attend sleepovers, go on play dates and choose their own extracurricular activities. They were “not allowed to get any grade less than an A” and were expected to be “the number 1 student in every subject except gym and drama”.

As a result, her children admirably excelled in academics and music (particularly violin and piano). However, the tiger mom’s rigid parenting style sometimes caused unavoidable tension and conflict between her and her daughters.

If you feel that Chua’s parenting style is bordering on the extreme and you may wonder, “Is she for real?!”, well, think again. Tiger parents like Chua are very much in our midst.

Making the parenting social circle extra interesting is the presence of ostrich parents who are the exact opposite of tiger parents.

What’s your parenting style?

During a recent parenting seminar at the Davao Christian High School entitled “Striking a Balance between Being a Tiger Parent and an Ostrich Parent” by guest speaker Dr. Queena Lee-Chua, she cites the contrasting qualities of these two kinds of parents. Dr. Queena is a multi-awarded author, psychologist, Phil. Daily Inquirer columnist and Ateneo de Manila Ph.D. professor.

“Ostrich parents love their kids but run away from the responsibilities of parenting”, Dr. Queena describes. Sometimes, they are absent in their children’s lives due to work (e.g., OFWs, overworked executives and “lazy” parents).

She adds that ostrich parents “relinquish parenting to others such as relatives, teachers, tutors, yayas, etc.” They have low or no expectations of their children and have few or no boundaries which result in the kids getting into trouble and not doing well in school.

Like the ostrich parents, tiger parents also love their kids. But, the problem is they are “extremely involved in every aspect of their children’s lives, even minor ones”.

Their competitive nature dictates their kids to outperform everyone else, which Dr. Queena emphasizes is “impossible to do”. “Nobody can be number one all the time”, she points out.
For the tiger parents, getting high grades becomes more important than the learning process itself. They practice hyper-parenting and over schedule their kids with activities inside and outside school (e.g., math enrichment activities, music lessons, sports, art classes, etc.).

Another term for tiger parents are the “helicopter parents”, which Dr. Queena refers to as parents who seem to “hover” over their children during their activities to the point of intervening for them. They include those we usually see complaining to the teacher and the school.

Striking a balance

Is there ever a glimmer of hope for the overly tiger or the laid-back and unmindful ostrich parent? Thankfully, there is.

“Ostrich parents should be more present in their children’s lives. They must be clear on the expectations and boundaries with their kids and work for and come up with ways to meet them”, Dr. Queena suggests.

Since most kids of ostrich parents have poor academic performance, Dr. Queena advises that they “guide their child in developing effective and independent study habits”. And, for sure, better grades will soon follow.

“Stop portraying yourself as the “cool” parent who wants to be more of a barkada than a parent”, she declares.

And, what about the more aggressive tiger parents?

Dr. Queena has two words: “Step back”. Give your child space and time to grow. Learn how to alternate between work and rest; between active and quiet periods.

She says that tiger parents must refrain from being too focused on grades. Oftentimes, those who vie for the highest honors end up being enemies with their competitors. Forget about the drive to beat everyone and instead be friends with everyone during the race.

The mother of one reminds tiger parents that “inner values are more important in the long run than the externals”.

Let our children fight their own battles

Face it; we cannot fight the battles of our children. Yes, we should guide our young ones but only up to a certain point. It is imperative that they are guided to solve their own problems and be more resilient and determined in preparation for the future.

Dr. Queena finds it healthy to let children make their own mistakes and even fail sometimes in small things. She opens up during the parenting talk that she has brilliant college students who break under pressure on their first quiz or exam failure. After years of being protected by tiger parents, this initial shock leaves a bitter taste in their mouths.

When it comes to parenting, Dr. Queena clarifies that “there is no one right way”. Although, personally, if she were asked to choose, she prefers some of the qualities of tiger parents than ostrich parents.

She stresses that “parents know their child better than anyone else; therefore, they know what works for them and their child”.

At the end of the seminar, the emcee Jigs Gacal, asked Dr. Queena, “So, what do you call a parent who is able to strike a balance between being a tiger parent and an ostrich parent?”.

Dr. Queena quickly replied with a smile, “A great parent!”.

And, I hope this is something that every parent aims to be!

It was indeed a privilege to serve as the project coordinator of Dr. Queena Lee-Chua’s parenting seminar at the Davao Christian High School for the second time.

The “Striking a Balance between Being a Tiger Parent and an Ostrich Parent” event could not have been a major success if not for the support of Anvil Publishing represented by Gwenn Galvez; Dr. Queena’s Davao-based best friend Julie Tiu; DCHS school director Arthur Brian Yap; DCHS’ very efficient administration team Maycelle Billanes, Shem Labor, Jimjim Carreon and Kuya Edgar; DCHS Parents-Teachers Fellowship president Yvonne Cabada and secretary Sharon Mangaoil and the rest of the PTF Board; Ma’am Jigs Gacal; Teachers Jay Rivera and Loida Lanaban; Annavi Salvador, Ian So, Naome Basilio, DCHS parents and teachers, and guests!

My sincerest thanks to all of you. To God be all the glory!

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