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"Tiger Mom" and "Panda Dad"

Posted by Vincent DiCaro

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Apr 6, 2011
A few months ago, I blogged about the "Tiger Mother" phenomenon and the lack of discussion about dads in all of the hullabaloo.

Well, two things happened this weekend that answered many of the questions I asked in that blog post.

First, I was at a bookstore and saw the actual cover of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother for the first time, and the text blew me away. It said, "This is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs." This is a married mom whose husband lived in the same home as her and her children, and he does not even get a mention on the cover? - but the dogs do!? Furthermore, she has revealed that it was her own father who "inspired" her parenting techniques. But her husband is less worth mentioning than the family pets? Am I crazy, or is it OK for me to be upset about this?

The second thing that happened is that I found out that a dad actually did write an essay for the Wall Street Journal just last week asking the very question (and providing an answer) that we asked here on The Father Factor - where are the dads?

This dad, Alan Paul, lived in Beijing and wrote a book detailing his experience, Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues, and Becoming a Star in Beijing. In his Wall Street Journal piece, he talks about how his parenting techniques are very different than those of the Tiger Mom, and he attributes these differences largely to the fact that moms and dads are simply different. He sums it up like this: "To make a sweeping generalization, moms tend to be more detail oriented, and order driven. Dads often care less about the mess, can live with a bit more chaos and more easily adopt a big picture view."

I think he is right, and research has actually verified those claims. He calls himself a Panda Dad, due to his propensity to "parent with cuddliness, but not [be] afraid to show some claw."

I like it! What I like best is that Paul is not afraid to talk about how the differing parenting techniques of moms and dads are both real and helpful to kids. And it is great to see a dad step into the fray and provide an important answer to an 'unasked' question. At a time when 24 million children in America - 1 in every 3 - are growing up apart from their fathers, it is critical that discussions about parenting don't ignore fathers.

Hats off to Mr. Paul for his work as a writer, and more importantly, as a Panda Dad!

Topics: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, panda dad

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