Monday, April 13, 2015

If You're Not a Tiger Mom, What Are You?

Frank Bruni has a column in the Times about a recent rash of teen suicides in Palo Alto, California, in the shadow of Stanford University and Silicon Valley. It is full of the usual stuff about the extreme pressure some teenagers feel to excel and get into top colleges and so on. All words we have read before. But then this:
Adam Strassberg, a psychiatrist and the father of two Palo Alto teenagers, wrote that while many Palo Alto parents are “wealthy and secure beyond imagining,” they’re consumed by fear of losing that perch or failing to bequeath it to their kids. “Maintaining and advancing insidiously high educational standards in our children is a way to soothe this anxiety,” he said.

He made these observations apart from the suicides, for which, he emphasized, “There is no single cause.” He recommended lightening children’s schedules, limiting the number of times that they take the SAT, lessening the message that it’s Stanford or bust.

“I will never be neutral on this issue,” he wrote. “The ‘Koala Dad’ is the far better parent than the ‘Tiger Mom.’ ”
So from this I discover that there is actually a title all of us loving, slacker parents can use to distinguish ourselves from the ambitious kind. A brief search showed that the phrase Koala Dad has been around since at least 2011, but I can't recall ever seeing it before.

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