Why I don’t give a whit about Tiger Mammas…

…and you shouldn’t either.

Whoever Amy Chua’s PR person is, she deserves a case of bubbly. I’m guessing the incendiary article of Amy’s she managed to get placed in the WSJ has resulted in the sale of tens of thousands of copies of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

No matter where I’ve looked the past few weeks, someone always seems to be talking about the author’s approach to parenting.

I purposely avoided reading the article on WSJ.com, even though it taunted me by staying on top of the “most-read” list day after day after day.

Why did I avoid it? For the same reason I refuse to watch any political “discussions” on TV.

I have a deep distaste for faux-polarizing concepts that engender finger-pointing, black-or-white thinking and most of all, parental fear-mongering (i.e. why you’re unwittingly killing/depriving/hurting your child). Based on the discussions I saw in blogs, on Twitter, and the occasional editorial piece – that’s exactly the kind of response her article elicited.

It makes for good theater but is toxic to consume.

The best thing we can do for our children (and ourselves) is to stop parenting in reaction to things – like outside pressures to get into x,y, or z program, your own internal ego-struggles, the parenting fad du jour – and start being present with them.

For you can only truly nurture someone when you are really there with them.

• When you engage with your child in the moment, you can see what she loves to do…

• …you will see when he needs space (OFTEN), when you should encourage him, where he should be re-directed, and where you should step in with some active guidance…

• …you will foster effective communication skills that will pay dividends in the classroom, on the playground, and when she’s a teenager…

• …best of all, you will both be a lot happier.

It takes a little bit of organizational effort to be a present parent, but the payoff is worth it. If you struggle with the concept, here are four things that might help.

1. Unplug. Everything. The phone, your cell phone, iPads, iTunes, computers…you name it. Create windows of time for being present with your children and make those sacred times. Great windows of opportunity to unplug and just be with your kids that are often overlooked: car rides, dinner time, 7pm-8pm.

2. Simplify. Kids don’t want or need structure all the time. However, we adults crave it. So we foist it on kids in the name of “development.” Limit your kid to one structured activity a week (or skip them entirely!) and let their brains develop the way nature intended: through creative play.

3. Wait a Beat. Before you react to anything, whether that’s something your child isn’t doing right or a fear of being seen as a bad parent – take a breath. Fill your belly with air first, followed by the chest, and finish it off with a big, loud exhale. Repeat five times. Now, is it STILL an issue? If so, calmly figure out how to address it in a way that benefits your child.

4. Do Something for Yourself. You are NOT your kids. Said differently, your kids are not you. The best thing you can do for your sanity and the sanity of those you love: find outlets for yourself. Sign up for a book club, take up knitting, head to a workout class. And go!

Do you fall prey to the fear bug as a parent? Why don’t the “experts” realize it makes the act of parenting less about the children under our care and more about us and our neuroses? What do you do to stop the insanity in your own life?

{Feature Photo Credit}