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Katie Couric, Tiger Mom, and…wow. Me.


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This week I experienced one of the most awesome 33 minutes of my life so far. (What? Childbirth is painful and I’ve yet to have a wedding.) I had the honor of talking with Katie Couric and Ashley Merryman, the co-author of Nurtureshock, about about some of today’s hot parenting topics. It’s live on Katie’s CBS News webshow, @katiecouric, or you can watch it on Cool Mom Picks until I can figure out how to embed it properly.

Some of you might recognize the story of the star chart. And hey! I got to mention all of you and your super smart comments on my post about talking to kids about race which totally influenced how we talk about it around here. (And which lead Ashley to say to me offhandedly, “So uh…I saw in your comments that you were badgered into reading my book by your readers…”)

I’d love to know what you all think about some of these topics. Are there too many experts out there? Is it possible that parenting”instincts” are often learned behaviors? How do you know the right thing to do with your kids? And did Amy Chua maybe have a point?

15 shards of brilliance… read them below or add one

The Dalai Mama February 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Parenting is the hardest job around. It is constantly changing and bringing us new challenges and ways to screw our kids up. Each kid is so different, that there just isn't a one-size fits all model that we can all agree with. It is important to know our kids and figure out what works best for them.

I loved the segment and I think there were some great things said about praise and how it is used. I totally agree with the sentiment that we often praise out kids too much.

I don't particularly like the image of “tiger-mom” but I think that there are some hard choices we have to make as parents and the hardest thing for me to reconcile was that it wasn't/isn't my job to make them happy. Sometimes I am going to upset them and it is totally okay to upset them–not by being mean, but, by being their parent.

It isn't easy and I am certain, I'll never have it figured out. I just keep trying.


Dottie February 18, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I've been waiting to leave this comment!

As a PR professional, I was totally impressed at how gracious and at ease you were in front of the camera.

You were the “heart” in comparison to Ashley's scientific side, but you were also the “smart heart”.

Your analogies were spot on–that “new country” analogy was simply brilliant and a great sound-bite that is a piece of PR gold.

And the star board was brilliant too. You deserve many gold stars for your smart portrayal of parenting and more than held your own over the rather loquacious Ashley.


Julie @ The Mom Slant February 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm

You're too modest, my friend. Every time you're on camera or on stage, you're incredibly natural and at ease. Or at least that's what the rest of us see.

I caught myself in an Amy Chua moment Monday, in fact. It helped me see that I do agree with some of her goals, but it's her tactics that make me cringe.

And the wedding part – meh. But the food and drinks and reception antics – those *are* pretty awesome.


Mom101 February 18, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Thanks DM, I learned a lot in the segment too! The book really is sensible in a lot of ways. And you're right, of course there's no one size fits all. It's funny how she felt that a star chart can lead to problems, based on one experience she had, while I feel that it can be a decent behavior modification tool based on my experience. Depends on the kid, huh?

And Dottie and Julie – oh my gosh, thank you so much. I respect both of your opnions to the nth degree and your support means the world.


Jennifer (ponderosa) February 18, 2011 at 8:55 pm

When I had my first child, I didn't have a network of friends with children. So I muddled through his first year with a bit of advice from my in-laws and my mom, and then! then I put him in daycare (3 days a week). I learned *so much* from my son's daycare teacher. I used to arrive at daycare half an hour early so that I could hang out — ostensibly to watch my son interact with other kids, but in actuality to watch how the teacher managed the children.

I didn't read a parenting book until the school hinted my son was Asperger's, and honestly, it didn't help at all. Watching how other adults interacted with him successfully was the best help.


Meagan @ The Happiest Mom February 18, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I think we need to look at more than instincts, and instead decide the values we feel most strongly about and let them guide our lives. The ones WE feel most strongly about, not our neighbor or best friend or the newest parenting expert du jour. If financial success and/or educational achievement are values #1 and #2 in your life, you are going to make very different choices than somebody who values creativity and freedom. It's hard to really sort out what our “guts” are saying as opposed to what we think they're saying through the filter of all the information and other opinions we're bombarded with, but I think if we're really honest with ourselves, and know ourselves, we can figure out our values and make our choices based on those.


Sarah February 18, 2011 at 9:21 pm

You were a rock star! I rarely have time to get too deep into books and have created a circle of trusted “advisors” if you will over the course of the past 5 years-you of course are on the list-that I keep up with to see how they are fairing in the parenting gig and to gauge my own skills. One of the most important of all aspects is that these parents (gotta include the dads out there) have to be REAL. Both you and Ashley came across not just as professionals in your arena, but are approachable in the subject matter and I think that is what is even more important.

Anyone can give me advice, I only take it from the ones I trust use it themselves.


Loukia February 19, 2011 at 4:55 am

First of all, congrats – that's amazing! I'll have to watch you soon!
As for parening.. I think we all just do the best we can. I think we learn something everyday and there are always going to be good days and not so good days… days when you're a proud mama, days when you're depressed, sad, whatever. All I know is I love being a mom, even though it's a 24/7 job filled with non-stop worry. Support and help are vital, too! I come from a Greek family where family always comes first, and I'm lucky in the sense that when I go to work, I have family members look after my boys. That makes it easier for me, although the guilt is still there, every day.


Mom101 February 19, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Loukia, I bet having so much family available is a huge help. I'm lucky that way too.

Maybe one of the reasons that there are so many experts these days, is that it's filling a gap left by more distant family than ever before.


Danielle-Marie February 20, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Too many “experts?” Yes. There are so many different views it's downright confusing for me. I never know when I'm doing something right or wrong. Which brings me to the next question. Is it possible parenting instincts are often learned behaviours? Yes. Since there are so many different expert views I just go with what my mother and grandmother tell me to do…I learned the “norm” from them. How do I know the right thing to do for my kids? I have two, a boy and a girl, and I have learned that because they are very different people I have to do things differently for each of them in order to keep them happy/comfortable.


mannahattamamma.com February 21, 2011 at 3:22 am

Can I tell you how many times I've quoted your mother–her comment about “everything you do as a parent is right & everything is wrong…”? Saw it on your blog a year or so ago and it strikes me as perfect. Because we all ARE wanting to do the right thing (er, road to hell, anyone? paved with good intentions and etc?) but of course, all that we do will be riddled with mistakes. I like anecdotes and personal advice rather than books, which all too often seem to come equipped with a scolding finger–I finish the book feeling worse than I did about whatever problem drove me to the book in the first place. I think too that it's important to hang onto two things: a sense of humor (because the whole being-a-parent thing is totally absurd, from the get go) and the awareness that YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE WITH THIS PROBLEM (whether your kid eats only white food, draws on the cat, still uses a pacifier at the age of 6, has temper tantrums, fights about homework, says she hates you…etc etc etc).


Danielle-Marie February 21, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Also, I agree with everyone else. You always look so at ease on camera.


Jenny, the Bloggess February 22, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Watching the video now. So proud of you!


Mom101 February 22, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Thank you all so much!

It was a huge honor to be able to be a parent blogger called on to talk about parenting, and not a parent blogger called on to defend parent blogging.


Elaine A. February 23, 2011 at 10:10 pm

What a great conversation and interesting topic. I think there is definitely a balance there somewhere between “Tiger” moms and coddling. Now if only we could all find it… ;)

Great job on the video – SO awesome for you!!! :D


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