The Panda Mom’s Manifesto

Oh man. Tiger Mom was back in the news last week. Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother will be a year old on Wednesday. The book made quote-unquote Western parents feel inadequate for not being impossibly demanding – of their children and themselves.

Most people who read Tiger Mother will find it easy to despise Chua. She is uncompromising, judgmental, fairly bodacious, and enviably successful. By contrast, most parents feel compromised, judged, tired, and struggling.

Tiger Mother has even spawned copycats (and a plethora of lame-ass feline puns). Witness the Corlin twins from Hong Kong: self-described judo champs, chess dynamos, accomplished sailors and straight-A students. (They sound to me like prime candidates for a wedgie.)

The ten year-old fraternal twins have written The ROAR Of the Tiger Cubs, which is basically their Harvard application in book form. The title alone is so self-aggrandizing that with clear conscience, I can openly pray they die virgins.

Well, it’s a new year and that calls for a new parenting paradigm. 2011 was rough on 99% of us, so I’m encouraging parents to give themselves a break. This year, let’s indulge, relax, and goof off. Not 24/7, mind you. I’m not advocating that you abdicate all parenting responsibility. Just don’t lose sight of the fact that kids are supposed to be fun. They’re also supposed to have fun.

How shall we codify this easygoing approach? I’m calling it, The Panda Mom’s Manifesto. Herewith are some guidelines, as compared to Amy Chua’s principles.

Tiger Mother insists that piano and violin are the only acceptable instruments for a child to study master.
Panda mom says the kazoo is a totally acceptable instrument. Ditto for tambourine, triangle, bongo, recorder, castanets, and anything your 2nd grade music teacher hands out for classroom jam. Except those wooden sticks, which are lame.

Tiger Mother disparages mothers who don’t force their kids to practice piano while on vacation.
Panda Mom disparages mothers on Toddlers & Tiaras. But she watches it. And wonders…

Tiger Mother says no sleepovers.
Panda Mom would’ve sent her kid to Neverland if it meant relaxing with a glass of wine and Nurse Jackie.

Tiger Mother forbids TV.
Panda Mom forbids TV in your bedroom. Except during sleepovers.

Tiger Mother‘s greatest ambition is to see her child play Carnegie Hall.
Panda Mom‘s greatest ambition is to play chopsticks with her child on the foot-operated keyboard at FAO Schwarz.

Tiger Mother says no play dates.
Panda Mom says are you out of your goddam mind? Kids are mean enough without inviting ostracism and bullying. Make a friend.

Tiger Mother would never compliment her child in public.
Panda Mom would never venture out in public anyway, preferring instead to snuggle at home with the sweetest, cutest, smartest child in the world.


You can probably take it from here. Just don’t confuse Panda Parenting with blindly boosting self-esteem, or giving kids whatever they want. It just means not pulling some Tiger Mom douchery like coldly rejecting your child’s shabby effort at a birthday card. Besides, a guilt trip is way more effective.

So let the kids stay up until midnight, if only once. Challenge them to a swearing contest. Then win. Pile everyone into the car, jam the windows and fart mercilessly. Then brazenly blame it on whomever is riding shotgun. The kids’ll be fine.

Panda art installation photo from Stéfan, via flickr.
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2 Responses to The Panda Mom’s Manifesto

  1. Tracy January 9, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    I love it. I am going to be a Panda Mom all next week.


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