We’ve heard of them. We’ve met them. They’re the parents whose kids are getting tutored in the SATs in middle school. They’ve been playing the cello since they were five. They’re padding their college resume with community service and extracurriculars.
These parents make us insecure. They make us question our own assumptions. Maybe they make us just crazy enough to try to keep up.
“Tiger parents, as parents so often do, are fighting the last war. Grades mattered more in the old days when the route to success was to acquire credentials while ascending some predefined ladder. But it’s just as well that their tactics are focused on grades. How awful it would be if they invaded the territory of projects, and thereby gave their kids a distaste for this kind of work by forcing them to do it. Grades are already a grim, fake world, and aren’t harmed much by parental interference, but working on one’s own projects is a more delicate, private thing that could be damaged very easily.”
Instead of teaching them that the way to succeed in life is through a bunch of arbitrary gamesmanship and credentialism (which is not true!), why don’t you put that energy into developing actual skills they can use in life? Instead of cultivating obscure or even fake hobbies to impress admissions counselors, why don’t you encourage them to find what they actually love, then help them master that?
The parents who lead their children into these pointless competitions aren’t just trying to win the wrong game, to fight the wrong war…they are doing it for the wrong person. Themselves! And in the process they are crushing the spirit and extinguishing the fire within their kids that could be productively used to do something that matters. Something they love.