Uttom Chowdhury is a Consultant Psychiatrist and a dad. His new book, The Tiger Mum Who Came to Tea, is a funny and insightful adults’ picture book, combining knowing humour with sound advice to reassure parents under pressure. In this blog, Uttom tells us about some real-life tiger parenting that inspired the book.
This is a book I wrote primarily based on my experiences as a parent in North London rather than my experiences as a Consultant in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. It came about after one of the mums from my children’s school told me all about her sons academic achievements and extracurricular activities. He had just done Russian GCSE and was now doing French GCSE as well as violin grade 6 and playing table tennis at a high level, but she was worried he was not reading the right books. He was 13 at the time.
I found, though, that the conversation made me feel worried that maybe I was not doing enough. I became more aware of other parents talking about their children’s achievements almost as if it was a project. On the one hand I admired the drive of the parents but at the same time I was feeling a bit inadequate. It was only when I stepped back and took stock that I realised we have all been caught up in this competitive parenting role and have lost sight of some of the really important things. I knew of friends who’d turned down important family events because their little son had a music grade 1 exam or something like that. Due to the success of Amy Chua’s brilliant book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother , a lot of people assume that the concept of the Tiger Mum is an Asian thing. This is not true, as the desire to improve your child’s standing and achievements is present in all cultures. I have a lot of admiration for Tiger Mums as they are usually well meaning and just trying to provide opportunity. So, this book is an attempt to laugh at ourselves, but also get the balance right. I do take parenting seriously.
It is my basic belief that parenting is the single most important thing that we can do. If we get this right, then we will bring caring, responsible adults into the world. For me, I can’t think of anything more important. This does not mean achievement or medals or certificates, it is mainly based around warmth and love and encouragement and guidance and creating opportunities for our children – and if that doesn’t work, then a 6 week summer holiday boot camp on passing exams and getting into good universities will usually do the trick!
The Tiger Mum Who Came To Tea is available now, and makes the perfect gift for any tiger parents you know – or those who have encountered them!