The Good, Bad, And Ugly of Tiger Moms, Dads

Having a celebrity child can be tough. There’s nothing in the parenting handbook about what to do when your precious has a date with Justin Bieber or a front page New York Post story. It’s a constant battle to adapt and stay in touch, and you want to help them succeed at the same time, naturally. Being a Tiger Mom can be seen as a good thing, when it drives children to succeed, but there are definitely those who take it too far.


Here are four celebrity tiger moms and dads who may have taken too much interest in their children’s careers.

Paula Hart, mother of Melissa Joan Hart

Once upon a time Paula Hart was called “The Dragon Lady” by Nickelodeon bosses, for the tight reins she kept on her daughter.


“Some stage moms want to be famous and want their kids to be famous and want to live vicariously,” Melissa Joan Hart told Alicia Menendez. “My Mom was a mom first and she encouraged acting as long as I was having fun.”

So why the nickname then?

“When she was considered a dragon lady she was being protective,” explained Hart. “She wouldn't let them pluck my eyebrows or put mascara on me, she said I was 14 and was not going to do that. Nickelodeon called her dragon lady but she was being a good mother.”

Melissa’s mom also played an active role in her daughter's career choices.

“My mother protected me, as I wasn’t very active in my career at a young age, it was a hobby,” she said. “When I made my own decisions in my late teens, my mom was trying to protect me from all these roles she was getting for me, and she helped me navigate through that and started our production company so we could do family friendly projects."


Melissa Joan Hart was lucky, but other celebrity “dragon moms and dads” seem less than wholesome.


Billy Rae Cyrus, father of Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus is hardly anyone's idea of an ideal daughter. There's been the drinking, the drugs.. the terrifying Terry Richardson photo shoot, the hair. But Miley isn’t the only one to blame here, as a lot can be apportioned right at the parental door of dad Billy Rae Cyrus. Billy Rae rose to fame as a country music star which might be why he pushed Miley so hard. However, micro parenting/managing can lead to the rise of the Twerk-sister, and take us far away from the saccharine Hannah Montana. Billy Rae focused more on being a “friend’ than a parent and that might explain Miley’s off the rails behavior.


“I should have been a better parent. I should have said, ‘Enough is enough — it’s getting dangerous and somebody’s going to get hurt, “ he said in Taste of Country. “ I should have, but I didn’t. Honestly, I didn’t know the ball was out of bounds until it was way up in the stands somewhere.”


Former DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee

It’s tough growing up, and having a mom who is chancellor can’t be easy. Everything you do is open to extra scrutiny and it makes things like play dates come with a side helping of security guards. However, there's no need to make the little ones feel like they’re not good enough and former DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee hasn’t exactly won the supportive mom of the year award.


She was quoted talking about her children and how they “aren’t good at everything.”

The Washington Post reported that she said, “My two girls play soccer. They suck at soccer,” while her daughters sat “cringing” in the crowd. “But you would never guess that if you went into their rooms. There are trophies and medals everywhere. We are so concerned with making children feel good about themselves. But we haven’t put in the time to make them good at anything.”


While Rhee has a point about society's way of basically lauding children for every achievement (you tied your shoe? here’s a medal!) publicly calling out your kids lack of ability.. in FRONT of them, she doesn't do herself any favors either.

“I also communicate to them that all the practice in the world won’t guarantee that they’ll ever be great at soccer. It’s tough to square this, though, with the trophies."


Lynne Spears, Mother of Britney Spears and Jamie Lynne Spears

There's so much to say about Lynne Spears it’s hard to know where to start. As the pure epitome of the traditional tiger mom she wins every gong, battle, raffle ticket, you name it. From the earliest Britney appearances we remember seeing Lynne Spears in the background and when Jamie Lynne got pregnant at 16, blame was fully apportioned on her jewel encrusted doorstep. We’re not saying that Lynne doesn’t care for Britney, more that all the coverage we have of their relationship suggests that dollar signs are by far the driving force. Britney's career culminated in her highly publicized breakdown, and door was fully apportioned at her mother's feet, which she accepted.


“When her life was such a success, what did she need me for? And when things took a turn for the worse, I was out, because other people - dancers, managers - were closer to her, and with her day and night. Being a mother, you can't help but have regrets about what you did and didn't do for your kids, and I'm no different,” she told the Daily Mail.

Perhaps the most damning testament to Lynne Spears' parenthood is a book she wrote herself, called Through The Storm which debunks Britney myths. Yes, an autobiography tell all about your children.


In it she mentions Britney losing her virginity, “at age 14, to an 18-year-old high school football player soon after she quit the programme.”

She also speaks about her depression.

“I believe Britney had postpartum depression, which, added to the end of her marriage and the pressures of her career, brought her to the breaking point. So many things in her life hadn't turned out the way she wanted.”


Way to go Mum of the Year!

So how can you be a good Tiger Mom/ Celebrity Mom without making monumental mess-ups?


Grace Liu, research officer at California State University and vice president of the Central California Asian Pacific American Bar Association, thinks it's all about context. She told CNN, "I was expected to excel academically and extracurricularly. So, I delivered. I got straight A's. I played violin for hours. I did extra math, chemistry and physics problem sets. Tiger parents express their love through expectation of greatness, not in acceptance of mediocrity. Some people interpret such expectation as parental rejection of their worth as individuals. I always interpreted such crushing expectation as the ultimate belief in my self-worth. I knew that I was not being set up to fail."

So, tough love is okay, as long as it's all about the child. Where Tiger Moms potentially take a turn for the worse, is when the parents want to be the ones in the spotlight.


Image: Flickr/Tambako

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