In the two years since Amy Chua's "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" caused a brouhaha in the parenting world, many books have been released in response to her strict principles.
From comedy to irony, tragedy to self-help, titles such as "Tiger Babies Strike Back," "My Tiger Mom & Me," and "How My 3 Children Got Admitted to Yale, Stanford and Harvard: A Guidebook By A Successful Non-Tiger Mom" flooded the market.
Nonetheless, a long-time educator from Mystic felt so passionate about the topic that she embarked on several long months of tireless writing. The result: the boldly titled "America's Answer to the Tiger Mother."
"Of course, when I read it, I was fascinated just like everyone else was," says Carol Cooke, referencing Chua's work, which details her prodigy-pushing ways and harsh style. Cooke, a former elementary and middle school teacher, actually shares Chua's concerns about America's youth, noticing what she calls a "slow but relentless deterioration in our children's motivation, their performance, their behavior and their moral compass." She also takes issue with parents who don't discipline or teach respect for authority.
"We have far too many people who do not have the knowledge or skills to raise their children to be successful and fulfilled," she says. But differences abound when it comes to solutions.
"Our greatest qualities that are valued are independence and the freedom to choose individuality," says Cooke, who feels a culture clash with Chua's rigid parenting.
"All parents want their children to be successful and happy. The problem is they just don't know how," says this mother and grandmother who self-published her book through Amazon.com.
So what is the solution? She believes it is a mistake to blame the public school system, which now has highly skilled teachers, top-notch facilities and more special services than the educational system possessed during the "Happy Days" of the 1950s. Cooke is offering some creative advice. She thinks parents and teachers should begin to give kids family-rearing skills when they are young: "We need to reach them while they're still in school when we still have them as a captive audience."
Cooke suggests creating a curriculum where children and teens can learn about positive self-image, self-discipline, self-motivation and "the secret of happiness," which is building good relationships. She believes young adults who learn these skills while improving their character and integrity will be able to someday pass along these qualities to their own children: "If a young person in high school could be exposed to these ideas, I don't think they'd ever forget them."
She has yet to take her plan to any education boards, but hopes to. As an educator not a psychologist, Cooke doesn't focus on "how to treat" but "how to teach."
>>To hear more from Carol Cooke, author of "America's Answer to the Tiger Mother," tune into today's Fox CT Morning News.