Apr 27, 2011

Pushing Ourselves

In one of the many articles written in response to "Tiger Mom," it said that the mother failed to define the goal.  The high grades on tests lead to what? If they lead to better jobs (= higher pay) what is the goal in that? He asked, "Is she suggesting that the goal in life is to be strong academically, perform in musical concerts, or make a lot of money? Is that the goal?"

I found it interesting that Tiger Mom's 18 year old daughter, who was just accepted to Harvard and Yale, explains the goal in a completely different way.  She said,“To me, it’s (life) not about achievement or self-gratification.

“It’s about knowing that you’ve pushed yourself, body and mind, to the limits of your own potential.

“If I died tomorrow, I would die feeling I’ve lived my whole life at 110 percent. And for that, Tiger Mom, thank you.”

How often do we see ads for yeshivos that claim to enable their students to "reach their potential?" Do they really achieve that? There is talk of "shleimus" (perfection) but do we know of any schools or parents whose goal is for their students/children to truly push themselves to the limits of their potential?

How many of us can say that we have lived our entire life thus far at 110%? I can't.

Although I imagine that growing up as Tiger Mom's child was difficult and stressful, those of us raised in a culture of "do what makes you happy" and "try it, you can always quit," who rarely pushed to achieve what we thought was beyond us, have not experienced the tremendous satisfaction that this 18 year old girl feels.


  1. It is a shame if someone views living life to the fullest and beyond, only in terms of intellectual achievements. There are people who have accomplished plenty but never accomplished having important relationships in their lives. They were one dimensional, colorless individuals who were lacking in emotions and only understood the ivory tower of academia. I don't know what this girl is like emotionally but I would imagine that given her family background and environment, she would have achieved all that she did even if she had performed in the school play or went on sleepovers. I am not sure that the deprivation was necessary or beneficial.

  2. That's a great point. She only refers to pushing one's body and mind. What would she say if asked whether she pushed herself to capacity when it came to giving to and doing for others?