December 27th, 2011 | University

Tiger Cub roams free at Harvard, Chua says

A Tiger Mother must allow a grown child to make her own choices, Law School professor Amy Chua writes.
A Tiger Mother must allow a grown child to make her own choices, Law School professor Amy Chua writes. Photo by Creative Commons.

A year after Law School professor Amy Chua first told the world via the Wall Street Journal that Chinese mothers are superior, she returned to the national spotlight to say she only applies her notoriously strict parenting methods when the tiger cubs are in the den.

Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, Chua’s daughter with Law School professor Jed Rubenfeld, her husband, matriculated at Harvard this fall. Since then, Chua has been a “hands-off” parent, she wrote in an article published in the Journal this weekend. Chua and Rubenfeld never nag their daughter about picking a major or about “what she does at night,” Chua wrote in the article. Tiger parenting techniques are most effective on younger children, for these children become “independent, creative, courageous” adults that no longer require involved parents to guide them, Chua said.

There is a distinction between Tiger parenting and “helicopter parenting,” which Chua said “is about parents, typically mothers, hovering over their kids and protecting them, carrying their sports bags for them and bailing them out, possibly for their whole lives.” Tiger parenting, on the other hand, assumes children are strong and more capable than they think, Chua wrote.

Chua told the News last January that the first Journal article — an excerpt from her book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” — did not accurately represent her views on parenting. She wrote the book as her model of Tiger parenting began to seem ineffective with her second daughter, she said. “A fiery spirit from the moment of her birth,” Chua’s daughter rebelled against the tiger cub upbringing, and Chua said she was eventually forced to change her parenting style to accommodate her daughter’s needs. For example, Chua allowed her daughter to drop violin and take up tennis.

“At the end of the book, I’m saying you really have to listen to your kids, and the happiness of your child must come first,” Chua told the News in January.

Now we’re just curious to hear what life is like for a Tiger Cantab. Sophia?