Peaceful parenting is hard enough for the average parent. Imagine trying to do it when you have the instincts of a tiger mother.
In Untigering, Iris Chen shares her journey of leaving behind authoritarian tiger parenting to embrace a respectful, relational way of raising children. As a Chinese American mom, she draws from her experiences of living in both North America and Asia and offers insights and practices to:
Heal from your childhood wounds
Change your beliefs about yourself and your children
Parent through connection instead of control
Redefine your understanding of success
Navigate and challenge cultural norms
Iris calls for a radical shift from parenting that is rooted in power to one that is grounded in partnership, but she does so with humor, humility, and empathy. This book is her invitation to you to begin your own journey of transformation as a parent.
Amazon book link here:
~ Review ~
I seldom read parenting books. When faced with a task such as looking in the mirror at my own parenting shortcomings, I tend to look the other way. Like most, Asians.
I was raised in an "authoritarian-parenting-style-meets-immigrant-parents-trying-to-navigate-western-culture" and thus, give their three girls room to grow up "just right." They were strict but not overbearing. My little sister and I were never spanked, but I saw first hand what happened when we strayed from this line my parents drew. But this isn't my older sister's story. Nor is it my parents.
This is mine and understanding the conflicts of my parenting style, my heritage and cultural worldview and how my childhood traumas shaped this illusion.
Before I picked up Iris Chen's book, I had taken steps to "change my stripes." I let my children choose activities they want to do, and if their heart isn't in it, I allow them to walk away. I've accepted and understood the fact that I will be mirrored and my images, hypocrisy, and white lies will be reflected back. Thus, I tried my hardest to speak truth and love to my kiddos and apologize when there are days I know I've fallen short - based on their scared faces. Iris' book gives me hope that I am steering this ship in the right direction. And speaking of ships, I appreciated and loved her analogy of "steel versus bamboo."
She writes, "As untigering parents, we're often afraid that if we give our kids an inch, they'll take a mile....We mean what we say and say what we mean. Rarely will we make an exception or change direction mid-course. We are solid and dependable: like steel. Unfortunately, the Titanic is also made of steel, and we all know what happened there."
I learned this growing up. There were days (and possibly years) my parents' hopes and wishes for us were ready for launch. Their daughters would be nurses, engineers or scientists. They didn't take into account that all three of us had hopes and wishes of our own. Over time, they learned to be flexible. But I can still see them shaping and trying to mold their granddaughters and grandsons. Perhaps, it is why I learned to do the exact opposite of their methods.
There are more than enough words of wisdoms and affirmations in Chen's book, sprinkled with stories of how and why she 'changed her stripes' and founded an untigering movement of peaceful parenting. Though there are parts that I fully understood and lived as child of immigrants and an immigrant herself raising first generation babies, the overall theme and commitment is universal: how to overcome the childhood chains that made us restrictive and defensive, and become flexible to our kids' needs and have a positive influence in their lives and those around us.
I recommend this book for those of us tipping on the line between what we know and saw growing up, and what we'd like to be as parents.
About the Author
Iris Chen is an author, unschooling mom, deconstructing tiger parent, and founder of the Untigering movement. As an advocate for peaceful parenting and educational freedom for children, her mission is to inspire generational and cultural transformation, especially among Asian communities. She spent 16 years living overseas in China (land of the tiger parent!), but now resides in her native California with her husband and two sons. You can read more about her adventures in parenting and unschooling at untigering.com.
Book Club Pick:
I use Goodread's rating scale
1 star – didn’t like it
2 stars – it was OK
3 stars – liked it
4 stars – really liked it
5 stars – it was so amazing, it's on my reread pile!