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Open letter from a "tiger dad" to a "tiger mom"

Active Parenting founder and president Dr. Michael Popkin offers the Active Parenting response to the "Tiger Mother" controversy. Share your opinion on our Facebook page!

Dear Amy Chua,

I think you meant well in raising your two daughters with the strictness and discipline of a tiger on steroids, and I know you must have been shocked by the controversy that your book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, has generated. You wanted to maximize their natural gifts by instilling a strong work ethic, sense of purpose, and achievement. Your older daughter, Sophia, complied with your will. The younger, Lulu, a temperamentally more spirited child, rebelled. So it goes with dictators, even well-meaning ones.

I, too, was born in the Chinese year of the tiger, albeit a dozen years before your own glorious birth. So, as one tiger parent to another, let me first say that I appreciate the strength and purpose with which you approach your parenting role. You clearly care. I also appreciate your bringing parenting back into the news spotlight where it belongs. We can all benefit from a discussion of how strict is strict enough and when does hard work morph into an unhealthy striving for superiority.

Active Parenting teaches that parenting styles can err in two directions: by being too hard on kids (dictators, autocratic style) or by being too soft (doormats, permissive style). We also teach that both styles bring something positive to the table, and that the best style is a synthesis of the two (active, authoritative style). Some parents need to tighten up, while others need to lighten up. I think that your contribution to parenting is in getting parents to take a look at both ends of this continuum, and reevaluate their position. Thank you for this.

I'd like to further this discussion by inviting you and the parents and educators that read this article to join me on Facebook where we can share our opinions and learn from each other. After all, isn't that a big part of what democracy is all about?


Michael Popkin
President, Active Parenting Publishers

PS. Your daughters sound like great kids. We'd love to hear from them, too.

To join the Tiger Parent discussion go to: facebook.com/ActiveParentingPublishers
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