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Balanced Parenting Newsletter

The Tiger Mom Debate                              February, 2011                                               

In This Issue
Thank you for your votes!
Are you a Tiger Mom?
Coffee with Bette
Support for Parents
 Thank you all for your support and votes when I was a finalist for the GMA Advice Guru.
I was eliminated when they announced the top 4, but I'm grateful for the opportunity and can now focus on being
Parenting Guru!

Thank you again for your time and kind support!

"Love is just a word until someone comes along and gives it meaning."



If you have any thoughts, suggestions, class ideas, article requests, constructive criticism or otherwise great ideas, feel free to let us know! 

If you enjoy reading this newsletter, please feel free to forward it to your friends.

Happy Februrary to all! I hope that your winter is going well and that your hearts are warm, even if your bones are a bit chilled!
February is Valentine's time!  Even if it is a Hallmark holiday, I'm in favor of a day in which we express affection to those we love - in fact, every day should be Valentine's Day!  Don't forget to tell the important people in your life how you feel about them and for just one day, don't take them for granted.  
Every Valentine's Day when I was growing up, my Grandpa would bring each of us a small box of Whitman's Samplers chocolates.  It was a small gesture, but one that I still carry in my heart.  My Grandpa died 32 years ago, but I'll never forget that sweet gift.  Sometimes, I get them for my mom and my sisters just to tell them that I love them and that I remember Grandpa's gifts. 
How about starting a Valentine's tradition for your kids that they'll remember forever? 
Sending you all love and wishing you balance,


Bette Chimes in on
the Tiger Mom 


Many of you have heard about "The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother".  This is a new book recently released about "Chinese parenting" wherein parents are demanding of extreme high achievement from their children, regardless of what they have to do to get there.  The author, Amy Chua, has been under fire throughout the media for her parenting style and has been called abusive, among other things.  She was interviewed on television and then came back for another after the onslaught of media attention and outrage.  Time Magazine even came out with a cover article that asks, "Is she on to something?" 


The good news is that she's gotten people thinking and talking about parenting.  I always love that! She's raising two very accomplished daughters...who are we to argue with that?  But at what cost?


First, I have to confess that I have not yet read her book.  I am planning on it, but the buzz is now, so I thought I would chime in based upon the interviews I've heard and the articles I've read.  So, I apologize in advance if some of my information is without context or misinformed. 


Parents often tell me that the tools that I caution parents against actually work, so they're not willing to stop using them.  I always say, "I don't argue with something that works for you. It's just my opinion and everyone has to do what works for them."  However, there are sometimes unforeseen consequences of those choices that parents later come into my office and wonder how to remedy the aftermath.  I wonder what those will be for Dr. Chua and her daughters.


Amy Chua has admitted to calling her children "trash" and other insulting things in an effort to make them strong and motivate them.  From my perspective, that just creates anger, hurt, resentment and models very disrespectful treatment of another human.  Especially one that she loves!  I focus on modeling the kinds of behaviors we hope our kids will emulate when they become adults.  Calling anyone anything unkind is not a behavior I would want my child to copy.  Dr. Chua would probably argue that she hopes her daughters will raise their children in the same manner. 


Dr. Chua (she's a professor at Yale, along with her Jewish husband) has also chosen a very difficult path of parenting her children in a style that is common for Chinese families, but she is raising her children in America.  Therefore, she doesn't have the support of her community and the other parents around.  This can potentially cause her children to feel "different" and socially outcasted.


Ok, rather than judging, let's look at the aspects of Dr. Chua's perspective that may have some merit.  She says that "she is shocked and horrified at how much time Westerners allow their kids to waste - hours on Facebook and computer games - and in some ways, how poorly they prepare them for the future. It's a tough world out there!"  Herein lies the fear that motivates her.  She's afraid her own daughters will not be motivated nor equipped to handle life as adults.  I get that!  Many parents are over-indulging their kids and cushioning the blows that life hands out.  Are we crippling our kids or loving them and trusting that they'll figure it out when the time comes?  In addition, she lives in a world of achievers - being a professor at Yale is no small feat, not to mention that she is surrounded by students who all got into Yale!  She wants her own children to achieve on a similar level and this is how she has chosen to accomplish it.


There has to be a healthy place in the middle somewhere between coddling and playing taskmaster.  Dr. Chua describes forcing her 7 year old daughter to play a song on the violin over and over, through dinner and into the night with no breaks for water or the bathroom until she mastered the piece.  One could argue that this teaches perseverance and the understanding of pushing through the discomfort to achieve mastery.  Again, at what cost?  Will she grow to hate her mother?  Will she grow to hate the violin?  Will she become angry and bitter because she wasn't given the love and compassion she really needed at that age?  (At least in that situation)  From my perspective, a child can learn the same lessons, but it doesn't have to happen all in one night.  The same lessons of commitment to an instrument and perseverance toward mastery can all be taught and learned without abusive words and/or actions. 


I believe that this whole brouhaha could end up being a blessing.  Why not swing the pendulum a little more toward higher expectations of our kids, rather than overindulging them on all levels?  We can certainly learn from Dr. Chua's perspectives, however, let's keep things moderate by avoiding abusive tactics and unkindnesses toward our kids!


Wishing you balance,



This article is also posted to my blog.

coffee cup 

Coffee with Bette 

We will meet this coming Tuesday, February 1st from 9:30 - 11:00, open house style at Chocolatine, 2955 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., T.O.


Bring your parenting questions and join the fun!


Remember, the parenting advice is free, but the food and beverages are not!

Parents of 0 - 10 Year Olds!
We are back up and running!
Our next meeting will be
Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
at my office
268 E. Lombard Street
Thousand Oaks
Please RSVP so I know how many to expect!
Bring a friend or two!
$35 per person
$50 per couple
This month's topic:
Showing our kids love with healthy boundaries!
RSVP 805-230-2464 or


The Balanced Parenting Learning Library Introduces:

Raising Our Kids to Become Fabulous Adults by Looking Forward and Working Backwards
 by Bette Levy Alkazian
edited by Karyn Blackmore-Hagy
Now available!



POTTY LEARNING: The Do's, Don'ts and the Oops of Poops

 (available in hard copy or electronically)Bette Alkazian, LMFT
Whether you've already accomplished potty training with your kids or not, you know what a frustrating time it can be.   

If you're somewhere in the process, not yet ready to begin or long past it, but know someone else, this book is a great resource!

 Go to my website and click on the Learning Library to purchase this e-book for only $9.99.

 Available in hard copy by email