A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal published an article about Amy Chua’s latest harrowing parenting experience, and her demanding her 20+ year old daughters to sign a contract so they can live in her and her husband’s New York apartment during the summer.
The terms and duties set out in this badly drafted contract (unbelievably, she is a contract law professor at Yale!) are “irrevocable” and included these young adult girls having to greet their parents “with spontaneous joy and gratitude”; to make their beds without fighting; to present themselves respectfully; to greet guests with “enthusiasm”; to converse with guests for at least 15 minutes; to do things after being asked; to stock the fridge; and bizarrely, to “plump” up the living room cushions and wipe down the glass table with Windex.
In reading the contract, it also alluded to a number of salient points that her 20+ year old daughters seems NOT to have fully mastered after being raised in the allegedly ferocious den of a Tiger mom for over 20 years. This includes:
- Needing to be reminded that they cannot sleep in / use their parent’s bedroom
- Needing to be reminded to greet their parents
- Needing their emotions dictated when they greet their parents and other guests
- Still not making their own beds and needing reminders to do so
- Still fighting over trivial matters such as making one’s bed
- Still needing to be reminded to pick up after themselves and keep their space “immaculate” and well presented
- Needing to be reminded to do something after being asked
- Needing to be reminded to clean and tidy up after themselves
To be honest, I’m already teaching my boys (4 and 2 years old) to do the above 1-8 tasks via a behavioral chart that we review with them each evening. If they do well, they are incentivized with lollipops and jellies as rewards, which we found to be a great motivation booster. After a month of introducing our behavioral chart, we have already been continually dishing out the lollipops and jellies.
If we can positively incentivize toddlers, then why does self-proclaimed Tiger mom, Amy Chua, need her daughters who are now in their 20s to sign such a humiliating contract (which we are assured to be totally valid and legally enforceable) to cover these exact points I’m teaching my toddlers?? Since they are well-trained tiger cubs, shouldn’t all these be ingrained in their psyche for decades already??
Which then begs the questions: Is she even a Tiger mom? What kind of parent does that?
It then gets more bizarre. She ended her article with this: “In the end, of course, all that any of us really wants is to have our babies back, to hold them close and to spend time with them—and to have them want to spend time with us. Alas, we can’t have their childhood again. But at least we have contracts.”
If that truly is what she wants, then:
Why insult and isolate her daughters and make them feel inferior (as it is made very clear the New York apartment is not their home but her and her husband’s apartment)?
Why have them agree that they have lesser rights than the family dogs?
Why have them accept that their parents have no heart even to entertain any legitimate excuses (probably even if they were on their death beds)?
Why have them agree to be kicked out to the curb if any terms of this ridiculous contract is violated?
If I was Amy Chua’s daughter, this degrading contract and the implications of it would not induce me to want to spend any time with her or her husband.
Step aside Tiger! Being a Tiger Mom (or parent) isn’t all about control, giving directives, forcing your kids to do your bidding, being domineering and preparing badly drafted family “contracts” so they bend to your whims.
It should be about empowerment, encouragement, opportunity and motivation!
Step aside Tiger, you have lost your stripes!