Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month or so, you’ve probably been inundated by the flood of opinions on Amy Chua’s controversial parenting book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Jonathan posted his thoughts on the matter a month ago and we’re bringing another viewpoint on Chua’s parenting methods. This time, it’s well known zombie-fighting instructor, author of The Zombie Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Living Dead and previous guest post contributor to GeekDad, Roger Ma. I’m willing to bet that the angle of “tiger mothering” has not previously been discussed in the context of surviving a zombie outbreak (The NYT, for example, seldom seems to write critically about the subject of flesh eating corpses); it certainly adds a new light to Chua’s techniques. Read on to see Roger’s take on things.
Why Tiger Mothers Are Superior (During a Zombie Outbreak)
by Roger Ma
Over the past several weeks, the media heat generated Amy Chua’s article “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” has exceeded nuclear fission levels. For the few of you who have been able to remain outside the blast radius, allow me to briefly summarize. In the article, an excerpt from her now best-selling book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Chua details a style of parenting somewhat common among first-generation immigrants, but particularly widespread within the East Asian community. The guidelines of this parenting style Chua enforces on her own children include the following:
• stringent, disciplined academic study
• no television or video games
• no playdates or sleepovers
• musical instrument proficiency (piano and violin only)
In recent media appearances, Chua has backed off from her original intrepid stance (receiving death threats can cause that to happen), saying that her book is meant to be a memoir and self parody. However, I have no doubt that, with the cameras off, she would affirm that not only is her way of parenting the better way, it’s the only way. The other unspoken truth that Chua has not confirmed in either her book or her appearances is that this style of child-rearing is exceptionally well suited to ensuring your children can survive in a world of flesh-eating corpses.
I am a zombie fighter. I am also the product of a Tiger mother. While these two facts may seem incongruous to most people, I can assertively say that not only are they related, they have a direct causal relationship. It is no coincidence that my book, The Zombie Combat Manual, begins with a dedication to my mother “for her strength and discipline.” Having experienced many of the parenting techniques Chua details, I can explain exactly how this type of regimen not only prepares children for the world of higher education, but also a world infested with living dead.In this article, I’ll cover the most prominent guidelines of Tiger mother parenting, and how they relate to becoming an effective zombie combatant.
The cornerstone of Tiger mother parenting is the development of discipline within your children. Whether it’s learning 50 new SAT words a day, sitting at the piano for three hours (minimum), or repetitively striking a target in the shape of an undead cranium, discipline enables the Tiger offspring to repeat a task for hours on end with nary a peep of complaint. This skill is especially handy during a large scale zombie outbreak, when your days will be replete with repetitive tasks. Only the most disciplined individuals will be able to sharpen armaments, mend barriers, and beat back ravenous corpses without going completely insane, children raised in the Tiger manner among them.
“When will I ever use this stuff?” This plaintive refrain can be heard among many disobedient children in the throes of mathematical study. While an argument can be made that accelerated calculus and differential equations have limited use in the post-undead world, a quick analytical wit is essential for surviving a zombie outbreak. Should an element of doubt still lurk in your mind, assess the following two scenarios:
- You are being pursued by a zombie. The corpse’s pace averages 23 minutes/mile. You can run an 11-minute mile. If you run 7.5 miles, with two five-minute breaks, how long before you encounter a zombie again?
- Your weapon can only crush another 35 undead skulls. Your exit is blocked by a room packed with the living dead. The room is 10 x 8 feet, and the average standing zombie occupies a space of two square feet. Can you eliminate all the attackers in the room?
Without basic math competency, the answer to these two questions will elude you, as will your ability to survive in an undead world. (Click here for the actual and reality-based answers to these two problems.)
Another essential component of this extreme parenting strategy is the desire to create an individual that can excel independent of a hovering parent, or what I’ve termed the “Boy Named Sue” strategy. Tiger mothering is also highly critical of the “over-coddling” displayed by today’s Western parents. When it comes to undead survivability, it is often the unfortunate case that due to infection and/or reanimation of a parent, children may be on their own. Which child is more likely to survive a zombie outbreak: the one who has had to manage academic studies, household chores, college prep work, a part-time job, musical practice, Math club, a Westinghouse project, and volunteer hours, or the one whose mom still scrubs his underwear?
While I’ve detailed the argued advantages of Tiger parenting, there are admittedly some shortcomings of this type of child-rearing when it comes to zombie apocalypse preparation. Two of these not-insignificant liabilities require additional note:
- Physical Fitness – In traditional Tiger parenting, not only is there a clear lack of emphasis on physical activity and fitness, it is disregarded in lieu of other “more worthwhile” activities. During an attack of flesh-eating corpses, however, your fitness level, at least in the short term, will be critical to your survival. A regimen of physical activity needs to be incorporated into traditional Tiger parenting in order to develop a well-rounded zombie survivor.
- Teamwork – while personal excellence is a focus for the Tiger child, social interaction and the ability to work within groups is typically de-prioritized. In an undead outbreak, this lack of social skill could be detrimental to your child’s survival. While the concept of the “Lone Wolf” survivor and “Last Man Standing” is a romantic one, the reality is that you will need to band together with others who have skills that complement your own. You can survive in a zombie world without being a “team player,” but for how long is questionable.
There are many who contend that this type of uber-strict, hyper-achievement-oriented mentality with little to no room for mental or emotional growth has no place in today’s society. While this point can be argued ad infinitum, there’s no denying the fact that the disciplined product of Tiger parenting will fare infinitely better in a world rampant with flesh-eating corpses. Thus, If you are one these parents that have endured the judgmental gazes of other, non-Tiger training parents, fear not.
When the dead rise, Tiger parents can rest assured that they have prepared their child well to succeed at university as well as battling the living dead.
Roger Ma is the author of The Zombie Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Living Dead. He is currently planning the undead combat training regimen for his two infant sons.