where the writers are
5 Reasons Driving Lessons Make Tiger Mothers Growl

cat on car


Precocious children are the currency of tiger mothers. Being the best isn't good enough. The child of a tiger must be the best first. Read Dickens by three! Play Bach by four! Learn to drive by ten!

Oh, wait.

We can't teach our kids to drive until they're sixteen. What's a tiger mother to do? (Hint: kids can start learning to fly airplanes at any age!)

Let's make the whole world like driving. Put age limits everywhere. No string instruments till six. No flash cards till seven. No tours of Harvard till nine. And when the magic age is achieved (achievement!), the moms would have to get the learning permits, not the kids. They'd have to answer questions like, "Do you think it's appropriate to treat your child like a miniature adult?" or "True or false, if my seven-year-old is average, I'm average."

I'm going to call my senator.


The second reason that driving lessons are such a classic anti tiger mother activity is that the mother must quite literally let the child take the wheel. Mama has no control. No extra brake. No second steering wheel to change direction if her child goes the wrong way. Enough said.


Almost as bad as losing control of the child, the tiger mother on the road has lost control of her child's audience. No longer do like-minded adults politely clap. There are no fawning private-school teachers, tutors, and coaches assuring her that her child is (or soon will be) the very best. This is the real world. People out there are crazy. They are, dare I say, tigers. I'm talking screamers, honkers, and finger-givers. Get fast or get out of the way maniacs.

"Take your time," I told my kid the first time we hit the road. "Just ignore the idiots." That's pretty much what I'd been saying her whole life. It was the classic anti- tiger mother lesson. But, as in the rest of life, there sure were a lot of idiots. People were furious at her three-second stop at the stop sign, her refusing to blast through the yellow.

So sad all those people rushing and racing, hollering at us to get out of the way. They've got places to go and people to meet. They've got things to prove.

But driving lessons aren't about getting somewhere. They're about puttering around the neighborhood in circles, getting lost, watching out for little children, and braking for squirrels.

"I never noticed there were so many squirrels," my daughter said.

I bet the guy leaning out his window yelling obscenities behind us had never noticed either.


Which brings me to the fourth reason driving lessons are against all things tiger mother. When my daughter finally gets her license, there will be no awards, no honors, no competitions. She'll get the exact same license as the kid with the perfect SATs.

You can't win at driving.


After my daughter got her learner's permit on the day she turned sixteen, she noticed a strange phenomenon. A lot of the kids with tiger mothers weren't racing out to get theirs. They were too busy. Or, they just didn't care. Maybe it was for some of the reasons above. Or maybe it was something even deeper.

A driver's license represents the child's ability to leave her mother behind. To say, screw you. I'm on my own now, going where I want to go. You don't control me.

I can't think of anything more anti tiger mother than that

(Diana Holquist is the author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Daughter, a parenting memoir. You can find out more about her at DianaHolquist.com.)