Laidlaw Education founder Sue Laidlaw uses her 35 years of experience in education to offer her thoughts on ‘tiger parenting’
I should hazard an informed guess that every parent reading this will be ambitious, on some level, for their children. It is also an inherent parental instinct to want our offspring to be happy and contented. During my time running west London tuition company Laidlaw Education, what I have found very interesting is the question of how the two desires intertwine and how we, as parents, balance them.
Seven years ago, Amy Chua's book, Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother, lauded the Chinese way of bringing up children to succeed at all that they do. This attitude still abounds today: Failure is unthinkable and coming second cannot be an option. Whilst many a London mother (or father) might hold up their hands in horror at the regime to which these Tiger Cubs are exposed, we may, at the same time, be rushing from ballet to swimming, football to choir - and back just in time to get to the tutor - with our own offspring.
Perhaps it is wise to stir into this mix some opportunities to dare to fail and to learn how to deal with it
Of course, all these activities are wonderful in themselves. Alongside learning and developing skills, they expose the growing generations to a rich and varied life. As caring and concerned parents, we understand that vital life-skills are learned along the way - working as a team, developing independence, confidence and self-esteem. Perhaps, as important as all of this, is learning how NOT to be the best, as well as how to excel.
Ambition, aspiration and drive are to be encouraged and absolutely no one would deny that happiness and contentment offer the cornerstones of life. It is certainly not impossible for all of these traits to sit together happily. However, perhaps it is wise to stir into this mix some opportunities to dare to fail and to learn how to deal with it; some time for children to do nothing, to get bored and find out how to spend time occupying themselves - at home, in the garden ...
Our children are a rich resource for the future - rather than being Tiger parents, perhaps we should aspire to equipping them to embrace life with all its challenges and disappointments as well as accolades and rewards.
Perhaps this is the key to real success.
:: Laidlaw Education is a west London centre offering private tuition, mock exams, special needs assessments and schools admissions guidance, among other services. Established in 1992, we are based at Duke’s Meadow, Chiswick. For more information on our services, click here.