What Tiger Mom's "Triple Package" Parenting Style Means to Me
According to Amy Chua, self-proclaimed “Tiger Mom” and co-author of the upcoming book, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America, many of us have something to learn when it comes to raising successful kids. Chua, who argues that American parents aren’t strict enough or hold sufficiently high expectations for our kids, is at it again with studies that reveal eight cultural groups that are more successful than others.
The woman who once reprimanded American moms for being lazy and hosting too many play dates and sleepovers now wants us to take note of specific cultural and religious groups for their stark ability to succeed: Mormons, Cuban exiles, Nigerian Americans, Chinese Americans, American Jews, Iranian Americans and Lebanese Americans. The three characteristics that Chua refers to as “the triple package” are: a superiority complex, insecurity and impulse control. While the book is not scheduled to be released until February, Chua has already been blasted, both online and off, for her seemingly racist and self-serving approach to parenting. Peter King, director of the Asian American Studies Program at University of Massachusetts Boston tells Yahoo! Shine, “I don’t see any credible cultural superiority argument that can be made in this… and assume that the authors’ intentions primarily meant to enhance marketing and publicity for their book.”
While I have not read the book yet, I am underwhelmed with Chua’s generalized approach to culture and lack of acknowledgment of the real barriers that impact people of color in this country. Even still, I have to admit, I’m intrigued and interested to learn how these characteristics can impact my parenting.
As the daughter of Cuban exiles, I can appreciate and relate to some of the ideology that Chua describes. I recall reading her previous book, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom, nodding my head in agreement. I do think some parents hold sub-par standards for their children. I hope (and expect) my small babies to one day invest their skills in a passion, commit to hard work, to one day experience the joys of accomplishment that attaining a sought after goal provides. And, I’m sorry, I’m not crazy about sleepovers either. I was raised under strict observation and a demand for performance. My brother and I were constantly reminded of the sacrifice my grandparents and parents endured to give the younger generation a better life. We grew up watching my grandfather build an empire in a country he was not born in but grew to love with a fierce passion. He was exiled to the United States with nothing and passed away in 2010 a financial powerhouse. From that perspective, I can absolutely attest to Chua’s message—my grandparents exude an incredible sense of superiority, while also wrought with humility, insecurity and deliberate financial planning. After my parents divorced, the expectations on my youth lessened, but the cultural inference of those noted characteristics stuck—for better or worse. And I raise my children, from the youngest age, with variations of those values in mind.
On the flip side, being an in interracial marriage and raising biracial children, I am shocked by the brazenly oversimplified references to culture and race in this book: the rise and fall of cultural groups? Seems harsh. And certainly not a perspective I plan to raise my children with when celebrating their mixed heritage. My husband and his family’s African American legacy is indeed also weaved with the triple package: financial successes, wholesome values and steadfast work ethics. And while my exiled Cuban grandparents had challenges, I wonder if Chua acknowledges the systemic and historical obstacles that other cultural groups endure in this country to succeed.
I will read Chua’s The Triple Package when it comes out next month, but not because I admire her parenting style. I understand that generalizations for sake of studies are made, but I won’t allow it to breed in my parenting philosophy. Yes, I wish for my kids to succeed in our society, to pursue ambitions that will catapult them to success, but I’m also equally focused on raising them to be whole and happy in their mixed identities.
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