Roughhousing Dad Challenges Tiger Mom

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We were out to dinner with some friends the other night (kids included) and the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (by Amy Chua) came up.  Chua is a Yale Law School professor and Battle Hymn is her memoir of her childhood and parenting experiences.  She describes a very intense parenting style rooted in countless hours of academic and musical study.  She essentially makes the case that for years Asian parents have mindfully executed a proven formula (academic success = societal success = happiness) and western parents need to toughen up and get on board.

As the parents at the table started talking—to the extent humanly possible with seven children under five also talking—it became apparent that everyone unanimously disagreed with an extreme parenting approach like that described by Chua.  Some of us felt like maybe we had a taste of extreme parenting growing up and we definitely didn’t have fond memories.

Slowly the conversation boiled down to the universal truth for all parents: we just want our kids to be happy.  The question is how do we give our kids the best chance at happiness?  This is complex, but I really have come to believe that play is the grail, especially active physical play like roughhousing.  On this site we talk a lot about about the great benefits of  roughhousing.  I really can’t think of a better thing for parents to do with their children.

The fact that Chua just made TIME’s 100 Most Influential People list makes me a little nauseous – but “influential” isn’t always positive and perhaps that’s true here.  So I offer this challenge to the drummers of academic achievement and Tiger parents around the world: Rest.  Your child’s happiness might depend on it.  And remember…like love, play always wins – especially roughhousing.


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