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The Parenting Dilemma

Parents are the primary key to a child’s future success and development.  One example is a neighbor couple that raised two children—a son and a daughter both over 30 today and college graduates.

I understand the son has a Ph.D. in alternative energy and the daughter a BA in design from a university in Hawaii.  The son has had no problem finding jobs that pay well. He even bought a home at a time when many Americans are losing theirs.

Recently, the mother and I talked about the parenting debate that was sparked by an essay in The Wall Street Journal. It was obvious that she wasn’t an “average” American parent but she wasn’t a Tiger Mother either.

It seems this neighbor mother told her son she felt as if Amy Chua, the Tiger Mother, had attacked her in The Wall Street Journal essay, but the son with the Ph.D. explained what Chua wrote wasn’t meant to be a criticism of all American parents.

Later, the mother sent me an e-mail saying, “The style of parenting I like involves appropriate choices and consequences. 

“The child gets to chose between walking or riding to school but not between going to school or not, between doing homework after school or after dinner—not whether or not to do it.

“If the child refuses to wear a coat on a cold day then they get cold and next time they wear a coat (natural consequences).”


A CBS News Report says the average American teen sends 17,000 text messages a month.

The mother still couldn’t bring herself to read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua’s memoir.  She said it would make her angry.

However, I am angry, but at a different sort of parent—the ones that followed the “Pied Piper of Self Esteem” in the 1960s making my job as a teacher more difficult for much of my teaching carrier (1975 – 2005).

A fellow teacher and friend still in the classroom says it’s worse now than when I left in 2005. He spends so much time documenting contacts with the “average” American parent he doesn’t have time to correct and record grades. 

He had to hire a retired teacher to correct for him at $25 an hour.

Studies show the “average” American parent talks to his or her child less than five minutes a day while the “average” American child spends about 10 hours a day watching TV, social networking on Facebook, playing video games or sending text messages on mobile phones.

Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D. described a different parenting model, “On average, Asian parents use more discipline and insist upon hard work more than Western parents. And on average, their kids do better.”

Dr. Twenge writing in Psychology Today said, “Asian Americans have the lowest self-esteem of any ethnic group in the U.S., but achieve the best academic performance (and, among adults, the lowest unemployment rate).”


“Oh, well, everyone does it!”  However, does that make it right?

If the “average” Asian-American parent represents strict parenting and the soft, obsessive self-esteem parent represent the “average” American, what do we call parents between the two, which might describe my neighbor?

After all, “average” does not mean everyone. Average is a “norm” or the largest represented group in a population, which still leaves plenty of room for millions of horrible parents that beat their children and sexually molest them.

Child Help.org says, “(American) children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect.… Ninety percent of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way; 68% are abused by family members.”

Did you know there are almost a million teens or children that belong to violent street gangs in the US? LA is the street-gang capital of America with 100,000.

Most of the gang bangers I taught earned FAILING grades and a thousand phone calls couldn’t change that.

Does “Parenting with Choices and Natural Consequences” describe the middle ground between the soft, self-esteem “norm” and the “average” Asian-American Tiger Parent?

Learn how to Recognize Bad and/or Good Parenting

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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