One of the highlights of the recent IECA Conference in Philadelphia was a presentation given by Amy Chua: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Many of you may have seen her interviewed on television or seen some of the snippets with her children on YouTube. I must say she is even more dynamic in person. She captivated a really tough crowd of more than 400 conference attendees; I say it this way because less than five people left the room during her discussion and usually after the first fifteen minutes or so people begin to get up and leave – unless of course there is food. And there was no food.

This audience of professional educational consultants, therapeutic school and program owners, staff and educators and attendees from all type of industry related services sat attentive as she regaled stories of life with her daughters. She told us how her parenting methods were a textbook answer for her oldest daughter, but as her second child protested and resisted, Chua gave thought to whether or not she should change her ways. There was a particular story about a family come-apart in Red Square that you have to read about in her book. The essence of her message was that although her methods were not, and apparently are not popular, they work.

Following her address to the conference attendees I waited in line to obtain a copy of her book. As I approached her I had plenty of time to reflect on rearing my own children and how my parenting philosophy earned me the title of Wicked Witch of Alpharetta. At the time I laughed about it, and to this day it still brings a smile to my face when I remember the first time my son introduced me using the title. I suppose it was indicative of how a ten year old expressed his dislike for structure in our household. We had rules and a code of ethics by which I held fast; most of the time it was unpopular with the other kids. When they would come over to play or spend the night they were very careful not to elaborate on the elements of structure and rules in our home and mostly only told their parents that they watched movies or played video games while at our house. But as time went on the truth began to surface and when other parents in our circle of friends learned that my middle schoolers had to wash their own clothes, take two nights each week to prepare dinner and that there was no Friday night football game for the high schooler because the grass did not get cut first I began to receive phone calls asking how they could implement change in their home. Of course in the eyes of my children it became my fault that their friends became subjected to similar protocols that were imposed at our home and as a result their friends were upset with them. Thus, the title was earned.

When I arrived at the front of the line I thanked Chua for having the courage to tell the world that they do not have to let their children become one of the crowd; that its okay to set boundaries and have standards that are different from the everyone else. Amy just smiled and said you are welcome.

What an outstanding contribution to our rapidly decaying society she has made. I encourage everyone to read her book and implement three of her philosophies into their family. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised.