Life Advice


Health & Spirit

How do I cage my inner Tiger Mother around my young daughter?

Carolyn Hax on

Dear Carolyn:

I don't want to be that mother. You know, the kind inappropriately invested in her kid winning, achieving, etc. But I have those tendencies, because I think I was raised that way myself.

How do I make sure my child lives up to her potential without hounding her to distraction? She is a smart, ambitious child. She has friends and interests. She knows how to stand up for herself. She is a feisty 12-year-old. But she still needs guidance, and I struggle on how to balance it.

-- The Tiger Mother in Me

Who says she has to live up to her potential?

What does that even mean?


Who defines it -- your daughter, you, her peers, society at large?

And shouldn't it be your daughter herself who "makes sure"?

I think the best way to cage your tiger is to make a habit of questioning your own assumptions about what's good for your daughter's future, until the habit becomes a reflex. I can't see the impulse to "hound" a child surviving that process intact.

You're fortunate; this is so much easier to do with a "smart, ambitious child [with] friends and interests." She apparently doesn't even need you to nudge her toward purpose, connections, fulfillment -- allowing you the luxury of limiting your "guidance" to her ethics, manners and self-care.


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