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Move Over, Tiger Mother

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Like many of you, Amy Chua's book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" has me reevaluating my own mothering skills. Chua reminds me of many mothers I've known over the years in my community, where Amgen is the largest employer, attracting scientists from around the world, many from China or Korea.

These people don't mess around. Our children grew up together, and while my daughter often wanted to join her friends in their Asian American homework groups after school, she never did. I could try to blame it on discrimination, but the truth is she didn't want to work that hard, and I was too tired to push it.

"Too tired" is a great way to describe my parenting style. My kids' "Chinese mother"...is their father. I've spent two decades riddled with Dr. Laura-like guilt for not giving up my career to stay at home and turn child rearing into my full-time vocation. I could argue that the money I brought in as a working mother allowed us to live in a nicer area with great schools and better opportunities. That's true. However, my family knows I would go nuts being home all the time. I love my children and would kill for them, but I would probably kill them instead if I didn't have work as an excuse to get out of the house.

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So I'd best describe my parenting style as sporadic, inconsistent, a series of peaks and valleys.

The result? Fantastic!

So far, so good!

My children got into college!

They're self-starters pursuing their own goals!

One wants to be a therapist (she says no child should suffer as she did) and the other is studying Japanese (to get away from us) while on a full-ride scholarship courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps!

It all worked out! At least for now.

Therefore, I'm thinking of writing my own guide to mothering called "How I Got Lucky".

Chapter 1: Dad's the Enforcer, Mom Just Yells a Lot

Chapter 2: The Kids Do An End Run Around Dad And Go To Mom

Chapter 3: Mom Caves...Again

Chapter 4: Dad is Angry at Mom for Undercutting Him

Chapter 5: Repeat Chapters 1-4

Chapter 6: Counting on Church to do My Job For Me

Chapter 7: Counting on School to do My Job For Me

Chapter 8: Counting on Scouts to do My Job For Me

Chapter 9: Counting on My Mother to do My Job For Me

Chapter 10: The Teenage Years—Failure Is Imminent

Chapter 11: The Power of Prayer

Chapter 12: Thank You, God, We Made It

When my children were small, my hope was that they'd get into Stanford. By the time they were teenagers, I just wanted to keep them alive and out of jail. Now they're adults, and their futures are bright. We've made it quite clear that what happens next is their responsibility, not ours. Sure, we want to teach them to take control of their own lives and stop counting on us. That's important. But the real reason I tell them my job is done is because I'm just really tired.

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