Message for Mother’s Day: Parenting Matters

| May 7, 2011 | 0 Comments

The approach of Mother’s Day brings to mind the great parenting debate du jour and the horrified public reaction to the tenets of the Tiger Mom  —a style of mothering that pushes and presses children to achieve and won’t settle for second best. It also brings to mind an alternative approach to parenting and a coworker who exemplifies more of a “Lioness Mom” model.

My friend and her husband do all they can to fuel the natural interests and ambitions of their three young sons. And the boys—aged 3, 6, and 8—are vivacious life-lovers, eagerly pursuing everything from ballet and violin lessons to figure skating.

Recently, my colleague talked about her sons’ performances in a regional skating competition. Her oldest son took home four gold medals, but, in his first event, his youngest brother (usually on par) placed only fourth and was despondent and disappointed.

mother and son

The coach stepped in and had a heart to heart talk with him. Then mom went to work. Sitting by her son’s side as they reviewed a video of his performance, she would stop at certain points and show how he was rushing through a portion of the program or how he seemed to emphasize jumps (which were not required or considered by the judges for his age bracket) while glossing over the moves that were essential to the competition. Then they watched videos of the competing skaters.

The following day, that son won two gold medals.

In the midst of a culture where non-judgment and non-competitiveness have emerged as prime values and an upcoming generation is in jeopardy of morphing into a generation of whiners and wusses, my friend passes on real-world wisdom to her sons and a pathway to fulfilling their potential. The boys have self esteem, based not on feel-good mantras but on their competencies and contributions.

Moreover, research has shown that such hands-on investment of time and care-full attention can have lifelong ramifications. Parental involvement has been shown to influence a range of outcomes for children, including academic achievement, emotional health, social behavior, and wise life decisions on issues ranging from sexual behavior to substance abuse. Three cheers for the lioness!

Collette CapraraAbout the Author:

Collette Caprara works as an editor at a think tank in Washington DC. She is also an artist and a member of the Brush Strokes Gallery in Fredericksburg, VA, where she writes a weekly column for the local paper. Visit her site

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