Recovering Tiger Mom

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3

Many of you are at home with your children 24/7 and having to home school.  While being quarantined can be an opportunity for deeper relationships with your family, it can also bring friction.

I have home schooled my children for several years.  Through these years, God has been breaking me free from shame-based parenting and leading me to grace-based parenting.  I can have high expectations for myself and can find my worth in my performance rather than in the free gift of God’s unconditional love for me. 

As a result, I can be a tiger mom and control my children to perform for me (i.e. getting straight A’s) rather than release them to discover the person God has created them to be and nurture them to use their talents for God’s kingdom.  One is short-sighted and controlling, another releases joy and freedom in my children and a discovery of self.

What does this look like practically?  First let me give you a definition of shame.  Shame is the core belief there is something inherently wrong with you and you are not enough.  You must do more or be more to be enough.  There are 2 ways I can parent through the lens of shame: one is nonverbal and the other is verbal. 

For example, when my children cannot grasp a concept, I may sigh, raise my tone of voice, bury my face in my hands, or turn my backs away from them.  Verbally, I can shame them by saying, “Why can’t you get this?  We’ve been doing this since the beginning of the year and you still can’t get it.  What’s wrong with you?” 

What helps me shift to a grace-based parenting that communicates “I’m here for you, I love you, I see you, I know you, and I want to connect with you – whether or not you get the concept” is to acknowledge their emotions, encourage their character qualities and affirm your support.  For example, “I know your are frustrated (emotion) and I see you are persevering (encourage).  I’m here for you.  Let’s do this together (affirm).”  Acknowledge, Encourage and Affirm.

Children are truly a heritage from the Lord and as we treat them as such (Psalm 127:3), I pray they will not depart from God’s ways. (Proverbs 22:6) It is important our children know we love them and we are here for them regardless of how they perform.  Avoid rewarding for grades.  Do reward positive character qualities.  Lastly, use rewards which build connection such as getting ice cream together. 

~Edna Lee

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