I was stung when a dear friend of mine whom I respect said I was a tiger mother. Then within the same week a 14 year old friend and successful student, read a paper Sally, age 16, had written. At that moment I was giving Sally my feedback on her paper, Sally’s peer also aired his view that it was good and didn’t need any changing. I thought am I too tough, what should my expectations be for Sally. What is the right amount of feedback to have her think about things she hears, reads and assignments more deeply? I have never thought of myself as a tiger mother; Sally doesn’t practice an instrument, language, sport or anything 2 – 4 hours a day and if she decides to stop something (i.e. both clarinet and piano she was able to at the end of the year). I pondered this quite a while over the course of a few nights. I was troubled.
Just like most people today I have had and still have many roles; daughter, camper, student, wife, speech pathologist and mother. But mother is the one I’ve felt good about my choices, priorities and by the grace of something larger than me my daughter’s growth of skills, abilities and goals. I am immensely proud of my daughter Sally. She self-initiates completing her homework, learns languages on her own and reads for pleasure. She has always taken feedback regarding academics well and tried to address any questions posed to her regarding her work. She prioritizes by importance most of the time and has good time management. All the aforementioned skills I feel will help her toward successful independent living. Even though I am happy with how Sally keeps maturing and her academic successes, I was still troubled. I didn’t want to be in denial. I didn’t want to be a tiger mom. I didn’t want to miss if Sally was becoming anxious or stressed. After a few more nights with this on my mind – I decided it was time. Time for the talk, not with a psychologist but with Sally.
The vindication. Sometimes we think that we will have to wait for our children to become adults to know that they understood and appreciated our guidance. However, this is not true. Sally told me she has not felt stressed with my questions or suggestions related to academics. She is glad we worked hard for her to become a reader, that we pushed her auditory skills beyond reading so that learning a second language would be a possibility for her and that we went back and laid the cognitive foundation skills for math. Sally still has to work hard to understand and achieve in math however she is doing it! More recently she was okay with direct feedback on her presentations, class choices and outside activities that were suggested for her. She made the comment “how would I know some of the things I know if others didn’t bring them up.” Sally made a valid and true comment. We all need feedback from others to do our best. We cannot always calibrate our abilities or plan for the future without candid feedback.
The ability to wear so many hats and be involved in their kids lives positively and actively without being a tiger mom or dad is one of the things I admire about so many of the parents I work with. They are the true superhero’s that make success happen for their kids. Here are the traits I see in these amazing parents. I honor your skills, follow through and dedication.
These are my parents:
v They lead their kids by strong examples.
v They are not in denial. They recognize the problem.
v They know there is a way to solve the problem.
v They set realistic expectation. Their kids want to meet those expectations.
v They let their kids know what they value and what their priorities are.
v They reinforce and celebrate the positive.
v They set limits and give feedback regarding behavior that requires shaping and where extra effort needs to be exerted.
v They stay the course.
v They are the parent. Their kids know they are in charge.
v They have hope and humor.
v They take suggestions.
v They don’t reinforce negative behaviors whether that is tantrums, whininess or manipulations.
v They are their child’s biggest advocate.
v They time spend with their child(ren).
v They are generous and forgiving with their child(ren).
I am truly in awe of many of the hats the parents of my clients wear. How daily you show valor in accomplishing your family goals and dreams for your kids. How gracefully you execute the plan you have set forth. Thank you so much for making me a part of your family’s plan to move your child forward. It is truly a privilege to be working on your team.
And I leave you with an inspirational quote from Elizabeth Gilbert for this Mother’s and Father’s Day and all year long:
“The women (could be men) whom I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way because shit went wrong, and they handled it. They handled it in a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it. Those women (people) are my superheroes.”
(Inserts were added to this quote by Dr. Parker)