In the time of the Tiger Mother, Priyanka Sharma-Sindhar strives to be a protective, nurturing, supportive elephant mom, she writes in The Atlantic.
Sharma-Sindhar grew up in India, where children aren’t reprimanded in the first five years, she writes. “I can’t recall a time when I cried and a grown up didn’t come to console or hold me.” She slept with her mother till she was five.
The phrase I would hear in almost every home we visited during my childhood was some version of ‘Let the kids enjoy themselves.’ They have the rest of their lives to be grown up. And the social fabric of our world supported them. We would go to the fanciest of restaurants with our parents and run around and play tag. No one would stop us—not the managers, not the other diners. It was normal. Soon enough, the servers would join in. It was lovely.
Her elephant mom was a doctor.
I failed a Hindi test when I was in fifth or sixth grade, and I remember going to her, teary-eyed, with my results—and hearing her tell me that it didn’t matter. There were many more tests ahead. As I sobbed in her lap, she stroked my hair, hugged me, and told me there would be another test, and I could pass that one. (I did get the annual proficiency prize for Hindi a year later at the same school.)
Now, she’s raising her own daughter in the U.S. Other parents think she’s coddling her, failing to teach “grit” and resilience.