Forget Tiger Mothers, What About Tiger Children?


If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylums would be filled with mothers. ~Edgar W. Howe

No one knows how children will turn out; a great tree often springs from a tender plant. ~Norwegian Proverb

Who are these cubs, and why are they calling me 'Mom?'

Yet again, I’m inspired to write based upon something I’ve watched. In this case it’s the documentary Living With Tigers, about an ambitious project to take captive-born tiger cubs and teach them to be wild in Africa (for the record, tigers are only native to Asia). The long-term goal is to raise enough wild tigers in the safety of a game preserve to eventually re-populate parts of Asia.

Despite their domestic origins, the two sibling tigers in the study showed a remarkable aptitude for chasing and killing prey. They just needed to be taught the subtleties, the way a mother tiger would in the wild. Once this happened, the two, “Ron” and “Julie,” did perfectly well, even bringing down an adult wildebeest on their own.

I’m also plowing my way through Amy Chua’s smash-hit-out-of-nowhere book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, about the children of hypercompetitive mothers of Asian extraction. Thank goodness I myself did not grow up with one of these as a parent. At the same time, having done well in school, I felt the societal forces trying to make me “succeed.” I’m sure most everyone envisioned me as an accountant, maybe a research scientist, high-powered attorney, or physician. One of those six-figure jobs. I sure as hell wasn’t expected to be a truck driver or street sweeper. In the end I fit neither of these roles; rather, somewhere in between.

Awright...I'm gonna get this MBA!

I’m still very much up in the air as to whether I want to have children of my own. With no long-term marriage partner in sight, this is putting the horse before the cart as it is. There’s also financial concerns, long-term planning for college, and all those wonderful things one must consider if one is to be a good parent. I like to think I’d make a good parent. Again, this is relative. I know I wouldn’t push my child(ren) to be anything other than what they wish to be and at which their talents lied. There are exceptions: I’d have to say no to a child who wanted to be a meth dealer or heavy-metal bassist when he or she grew up.

Looking back at my life, from an adopted child’s point of view, things are a bit complicated. I don’t have “tigers” as adoptive parents, though both of them encouraged me to do my best, allowed me to take lessons in everything from piano to dressage, and offered to pay tuition at the college of my choice. They were never terribly pushy or condescending about the choices I eventually made, though I think they were slightly disappointed in the end. That concurs with my opinion of what makes a “good” parent. We might disagree with our children’s choices, but as long as they stay out of trouble and aren’t a burden on society, what business is it of ours? We shape their futures but we do not control them.

Fiction, everything from The Godfather to Kung Fu Panda, gives us countless examples of children who don’t wish to follow in their family’s traditions and professions. For me, that wasn’t the case, at lease not always. Coming from a military and law enforcement family, I *wanted* to join “the family business.” I had that warrior’s instinct and mental toughness. My knees just didn’t cooperate. It would have been a mark of pride for me, and I know my parents and grandparents would have liked to see me in that field.

The years have passed and the instinct has not gone away. I’ve considered everything from private investigation to cargo piloting as a career. I’m still one of those people who doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. Is this a bad thing? Not really…but nor am I getting any younger. The time is nigh.

As I continue to seek my true path, I increasingly seek my parents’ counsel. They have the wisdom of years, as well as their love and support for me, on my side. There’s also mentors (the old saying of a mentor appearing when a student is ready? It’s true) and prayer/meditation. Oh yes…lots of that.

I don’t think I’ll ever be a Tiger, a type A, a leader or dominator. That’s not my style. Nor am I one of the “herd” type animals like a cow or a springbok, content to be just like everyone else and blend in. Not me either. The trick is finding a middle ground. If we’re sticking to big cats, I’ll go with leopards. Tough, predators rather than prey, but mostly solitary. Not quite as big or as glamorous as the larger lions and tigers.

But at the end of the day, I just want privacy and serenity. And my A-2 Tiger jacket. How’s that for a concession?

Whaddaya lookin' at, punk?

Note to my readers: Sorry for the delay…I’ve been on my yearly retreat. Thanks for your continuing support for P&Q! Be sure to add my blog to your subscription queue, and follow me on Facebook!

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on February 22, 2011.

2 Responses to “Forget Tiger Mothers, What About Tiger Children?”

  1. i just started reading battle hymn – it’s very enlightening – my mom is asian and i thoroughly get amy chua’s humor. i completely get your hesitation to have children – i was the same before having mine. i was just telling a friend last night that i’ve never ‘felt ready’ for the next one – but so blessed they are here – i love how life surprises us because what do i know? *hahah*

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