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COLUMN: Is there something to Amy Chua's 'tiger mom' approach?

She said the S-word - strict - and now parents all over North America are sending her nasty emails. And that's not all.

She said the S-word - strict - and now parents all over North America are sending her nasty emails.

And that's not all. In one short week, since her memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother hit book shelves, Ivy League lawyer and mother Amy Chua has been vilified for the Chinese mothering tactics she uses to raise her children.

For instance, she writes that she once called her daughter, "garbage," has her children practise piano and violin for hours on end, threatened her youngest with no supper or birthday party if she didn't perfect a musical piece and nixes play dates, television and sleep-overs.

Tough? I'll say.

Strict? You bet.

Control Freak? Probably.

Horrible? Not necessarily.

Once you get past the provocative book cover and actually read all 229 pages of Tiger Mother (instead of jumping on the bandwagon of sound bites from tabloid TV), you'll find that Chua's book is more about merging the best of two cultures (American and Chinese) and loosening the reins, if even just a bit, after her rebellious daughter Lulu blows up at her controlling mother on a family trip to Russia.

And although critics across North America take turns jabbing Chua's parenting style - I certainly cringed - I actually found her to be not only an interesting person but just a little inspiring too.

Why? Well, with TV shows such as the upcoming racy Skins and Jersey Shore gracing children's free time, juvenile crime having doubled since 1980, more instances of vicious bullying and the increased use of OxyContin amongst teenagers, I believe our children could use at least some Tiger Parenting.

In fact, when interviewed recently for Maclean's magazine, Chua said, "Immigrant parents are horrified by the many aspects of Western parenting: How quickly they let children grow up [think lingerie for 10-year-olds], how much time they let them waste [video games and Facebook over homework and reading], and how poorly they prepare them for the future ["Of course, you're good at everything! And if your teacher doesn't give you an A, we'll sue."].

"My job," Amy tells her children, "is to prepare you for the future, not to make you like me" - a concept that's still hard to grasp for BFFPs (best friends forever parents).

At the end of the day, while I love my Western ways, taking a stricter approach with our kids in a culture that doesn't always have their best interests at heart isn't a bad idea.

And although I don't want to idealize the way Chua raises her children (even her husband and once-strict parents told her to mellow out) we certainly can't glorify our culture's way of raising kids either.

Extreme parenting of any sort isn't the answer and the truth is North Americans can be just as permissive as a Tiger Mother is strict.

So what's the solution? I think the answer to this controversy is the old cliché of balance (a yes with a no; a hug with discipline; homework first, then video games) and boundaries (if your kids don't hate you sometimes, you're not doing your job, but if they hate you all the time, that's not good either).

Now, to North American parents: It seems that not a day goes by that we aren't inundated with some new study on how to raise our kids, some new parenting trend or some new philosophy that could, if we let it, drive us absolutely mad.

You want to hear my solution to that? "Pilates and wine." Amy Chua says Western parents like things like that.

Tara McIntosh is a Port Moody resident.