What’s the Real Definition of Tiger Mother?


A while ago this woman got a book published. She called herself the ‘Tiger Mother’. Her idea of mothering was to over program and micro manage her children into achievement. I didn’t buy her book because the thought of wee kids being subjected to the kind of pressure I would cringe at as an adult made me…well…cringe.   But, it got me thinking about how I would define a Tiger Mother, and whether I thought I was one or not.

tiger mother = over protective mothers?

My definition of a Tiger Mother, before all the hoopla about this book included:

  • over protective mothers interfering in their children’s’ lives and heading up parents’ councils to get the best teachers;
  • running the bake sales, controlling the dance school, and getting kicked out for aggression at rep hockey; 
  • Knowing how to use a rectal thermometer (gross), remembering to sign permission forms, not continually losing the family number for the community centre (and remembering to sign the kids up for their lessons in the first place), and making organic rice milk nut-free lactose free wheat free sugar free birthday cupcakes. 

None of those described me.  I was relaxed; I let my kids be.  I tried not to  pressure them (except a bit academically and that’s only because I wanted them to make money and buy me a condo in Florida when I’m old), and encouraged them to ‘do their best’ and ‘be their best selves’. 

I let them ride their bikes to their friends houses to the park and all around, and thus got them cell phones at age 10 so I could track them while they were doing that (fine, that’s a little overprotective). 

I was easygoing, yet they knew I meant business.  I believed in giving them some freedom to make mistakes as long as they didn’t lie, and learned from those mistakes. 

My junk cupboard was legendary (but so was my fruits and vegetables drawer) , and I only snuck whole grain pasta into the pot sometimes.  Once in a while, they were allowed a case of Tuesday-itis, and if they felt like pyjama’ing all day, well so be it. 

Pretty much,  not the definition of a TIGER mother, by anyone’s standards, right? Well, recently, the TIGER awoke in me.  I became a crazy, overprotective, domineering, pushy Tiger Mother. What turned me into that person I swore I’d never be?  A sick teenager and an incompetent hospital experience, that’s what.

Last month, my daughter was sick.  The clinic thought it was her Appendix and sent us to the hospital.  Thinking it was a simple diagnosis, I went to York Central Hospital, our local health ’care’ facility.  This place is fondly known as ‘Death Central’. Turns out she didn’t have Appendicitis.  But she also didn’t have the illness they misdiagnosed her with (ovarian cysts) on two separate visits, nor did she need the narcotic pain killer the rushed doctor prescribed, or the sloppy, haphazard  care that she did receive.

Believing that the hospital and physicians knew best, I didn’t demand, didn’t ask;  I was acquiescent, the relaxed mother I endeavour to be.  When they sent us home while she was having a reaction to morphine, and I had to roll her out in a wheelchair, I was seething inside. But still, I didn’t do anything.  My Tiger was still asleep.

Then, I took her to Sick Kids Hospital, and I saw what health care is meant to be and should be.  She was treated with respect, compassion, and attentiveness.  Plus, these professionals wouldn’t rest until they figured out the puzzle that was her illness. 

I started to feel the TIGER awaken when I thought about the two weeks my daughter suffered because the doctor at York Central was ‘really good at moving the patients through’ (Quote from the nurse).  When Sick Kids told me they found no evidence of Ovarian cysts in her tests, the Tiger started to stretch,  and when my paediatrician’s eyes widened when I told him that York Central prescribed PERCOCET to a TEENAGER for abdominal pain, the Tiger began to growl.

So, what did I do, now that I had channeled one of those crazy, overprotective, domineering, pushy Tiger Mothers I generally scoffed atWell, besides nagging my daughter incessantly to do all the things that would make her better I called PATIENT RELATIONS at York Central Hospital, and lodged a complaint.  AndI’m looking for follow-through.  My Tiger has begun to ROAR, and won’t quieten until someone tells me ‘Yes, we made a mistake.  We will do better.  Your child deserved better. ‘

Presently, my daughter is on the mend, the hospital has committed to mending their ways (Ya Right) and my TIGER seems to be going down for a nap.  So, I start to ponder the many definitions of  TIGER MOTHER.  Wasn’t I really a TIGER MOTHER all along, just my own kind?  Should I (or anyone) judge the author who says her kind of mother makes the most successful kids (maybe a bit-I think her kids will need therapy, but that’s just my opinion), if we don’t want her to judge my or your way of mothering?    Aren’t we all  TIGER MOTHERS at one time or another? 

So, let me ask you:  What does your TIGER MOTHER look like?