The Tiger Mother In Us
- Friday, January 28, 2011
The irony is that Christians ostensibly possess the secret to lifelong fulfillment, which is our relationship with Jesus and obeying the call to follow him. Instead of living through our children, I'm realizing that the question is less, "How do I help my kids succeed?", but instead, "Am I modeling the kind of person that I want my children to be? Am I demonstrating that following Jesus is about letting go of my dreams, both for myself and for my children, and giving them all to God?"
We often forget a key truth about parenting; as author Gary Thomas wisely notes, it's "a process through which God purifies us—the parents—even as he shapes our children." Meanwhile, we are called to trust that God is the shaper of our kids, although he allows and encourages us to play a role. We have a biblical mandate to teach our children, as expressed in Deuteronomy 6 ("Talk about [these commandments] when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up"). But let's not mistake the mandate to teach spiritual truths for taking control over our children's destinies.
And may we not be the kind of parents who misdirect our children to paths that God is not intending for them. If God should lead my kids one day to serve in a dangerous ministry, or to take a vow of poverty, my prayer is that I would have the courage and willingness to embrace the reality that the most "successful" parenting helps our children identify and embrace God's calling in their life, whatever that call might be, whether it is to attain a well-paying job in a prestigious career or to serve the poorest of the poor in unfathomable conditions.
After the initial release of the Chua article, the Wall Street Journal polled readers with the question, "Which style of parenting is best for children? Permissive Western parenting or demanding Eastern parenting?" You might be surprised to discover that sixty-three percent of those who responded chose Amy Chua's approach. For all the criticism the Tiger Mom has received, a majority of people still want the "successful" results that her children have demonstrated.
But God's plans for our kids may not look the least bit desirable to a Tiger Mother's eyes, or to anyone who pursues after a success narrative that is more culturally than biblically driven. The Christian approach is quite often the least attractive option, the narrow way, and it appears we still have a long way to go to stand apart and demonstrate that there is a different way to be a parent.
Helen Lee is the author of The Missional Mom: Living With Purpose in the Home and in the World. Visit her website at www.themissionalmom.com, or follow her on Twitter @HelenLeeAuthor and @TheMissionalMom.
**This article originally posted on The Mommy Revolution blog.
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