A while ago, I was slated to teach a high-school class. I was warned that this particular group needed disciplining.

When I shared this information with my youngest daughter, she demonstrated methods employed by her teacher (including “the look”) to keep her class under control. My daughter expressed genuine concern: “Mommy, I can’t believe that you even know how to be strict!”

In an age when too many kids feel that their parents are “out of tune,” it was a sweet compliment. But truthfully, I don’t think I am a lenient parent; I’ve just been gifted with great kids, thank G‑d, who don’t need such hard-handed approaches.

Recently a new book was published by Amy Chua about the qualities of certain groups of people in helping their children succeed. Topping her list was the Jewish people.

In her original book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Chua claims that the demanding Eastern parenting model is better than the permissive Western one, which allows children to become self-indulgent.

Chua has called her children “garbage,” “pathetic” and “lazy,” and in one extreme example forced her unwilling daughter to master a difficult piece on the piano by threatening to take away her dollhouse and hold back her lunches, dinners, and even bathroom breaks.

Chua’s techniques sound extreme, especially to our Western ears, but her goal is to help her children achieve their best. As one commentator wrote, “Is it really more cruel than laissez-faire independence and babysitting-by-TV?”

In The Self-Made Child, this week’s Torah portion teaches us how to help our children actualize their abilities. In Back to the Calm, we learn how to reflect before reacting. And in My Week Without My Phone, we get a sweet reminder about what’s important.

While none of these articles advocate “Tiger Mom”’s severe methods, they provide helpful tools for motivating our children—and ourselves—to succeed.

Because, though the Jews top Chua’s list of successful people, I don’t know many Jewish moms who employ her harsh methods.

Wishing you a successful week!

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

P.S.: Those high-school students behaved like angels.