I don’t know about you, but the message of the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua rubs me the wrong way. And this is not to say that I don’t expect my kids to always do their best…but I do think that, as a society and especially as parents, we need to move in a direction that celebrates square, octagon, triangle, hexagon AND round pegs…not just shave off the corners of the aforementioned ones to fit into the round holes that someone else has deemed the “ideal” size and shape.

Why can’t we see the beauty in being Butterfly Parents instead? We should be listening to our kids and allowing them to show us the types of education and methods of learning they’re hungry for when they’re young “caterpillars” so that we can give them what they need to transform into beautiful, unique “butterflies” as adults that everyone admires. By force feeding our kids the types of instruments we as parents want them to play or what we as parents want them to grow up to be as adults or what we as parents can brag about to our friends (re: only participating in activities where they can win first place or a gold medal), we are not encouraging them to blossom in their own unique ways.

A greater risk that “Tiger Mothers” represent to us as a society is that, by creating carbon copies of an ideal and degrading children that don’t fit that mold, we are potentially losing out on some of those brilliant young minds having the freedom to think in new and different ways…and contribute to society in ways that we couldn’t even imagine. And, most importantly, creating an aversion to learning in our youth, rather than an appetite for it.

The passionate people I’ve met in the Afterschool and out-of-school-time communities, however, has me encouraged. We’ve got energized instructors from coast-to-coast eager to show our kids how fun and exciting learning can be just after the school bell rings. And this “out of the ordinary” education has been shown to translate into higher test scores during the school day. But their funding is in jeopardy with all of the federal and state budget cuts. I hope you’ll join me in reinforcing the message to congress that afterschool programs are key to inspiring kids to learn in ways that we simply aren’t able to do just by extending the school day and tacking on more language and math.

Butterfly Parents vs. Tiger Mothers