January 20, 2016

A few days ago I had coffee with a lovely mate of mine. We were chatting about our kids and I was rambling as I do…and then she said, “Parry, you’re a Tigger mum.”

“Tigger mum?“ I asked. I was not familiar with the expression. “Yes,” she said “Tigger as opposed to Tiger.”

I’m not sure it is an actual recognized definition – but being likened to an orange, bouncy, over-exuberant fictitious animal felt like a compliment to me.

After a good catch up, I went home and shared my new label with my kids. I was met with a tirade of “Ha!” “No way” and “pfft!!” and plenty of eye rolling. I was told in no uncertain terms that – I was not a Tigger mum and in fact I was very “Tiger”.

Now I don’t know about you – but I don’t view being called a Tiger mum as a compliment at all – and knowing my kids that might be why they said it.

In case it has escaped you, a Tiger mum is defined as an extremely strict or demanding mother who pushes her children to high levels of achievement.

The term was coined by Yale law professor Amy Chua in her memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

Over the years, I have met a few “Tiger mums” and whilst I tend not to get on with them so well and can be quite disparaging about some of the things they say and the way they parent; I am quite impressed by their conviction and how resolute they are about their goals for their children and how they execute them.

It turns out there are a quite a few definitions for mothers (!) but the opposite of Tiger mum is actually an Elephant mum. An Elephant mum is a mother who believes that she needs to nurture, protect and encourage her children above all else.

As mothers, I feel we have a little bit of Tiger and Elephant in us, and in my case, a bit of Tigger too!

I unashamedly want my kids to achieve their potential and not waste whatever talent they have – provided that’s what they want. But, in nearly two decades I have not been able to master the art of getting my kids to apply their efforts to things I want them to do, because I think it would be beneficial – so maybe I’m not as Tiger as they think I am… or I am a really substandard Tiger mum!

As for the ‘Elephant mum’ element – I feel most mothers – certainly the ones I know – want to nurture and protect their children – our mechanisms may be slightly different but I feel this is a basic, primal feeling that takes over the minute we give birth.

As for being told I was a “Tigger” mum, even though my kids don’t agree – it did really please me.

Although, I looked up Tigger’s personality traits and found this: “Tigger is always filled with great energy and optimism, and though always well-meaning, he can also be mischievous, and his actions have sometimes led to chaos and trouble for himself and his friends. Also, he often undertakes tasks with gusto, only to later realize they were not as easy as he had originally imagined.”

So maybe being a “Tigger” mum is not ideal either…but cherry picking the best qualities of all three – now that’s a well rounded mother…


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