The 7 Parenting Controversies that Changed the Way We Raised Our Kids in 2011

Here, the stories that affected our lives and our kids' lives the most this year, from 'superior' Chinese mothers to tainted apple juice.
Amy Chua

Peter Z Mahakian

Here's one thing most parents can agree on: there is no one right way to raise children. We are constantly tweaking, questioning, and adjusting to our growing, changing, challenging kids.

What's more, we're adjusting to the constantly changing world -- the endless stream of warnings, recommendations, and philosophies put forth by so-called parenting experts.

This year, readers were most engaged by and roiled up over seven parenting controversies. Read on to find out which big stories made our year-end list.

"Tiger Mother" Calls Parental Expectations into Question

What happened: Amy Chua, mother of two and author of "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," started a debate about how much pressure parents should put on their children to succeed. Her book, which was excerpted in January in the Wall Street Journal, attempt to explain why Chinese children are stereotypically such high achievers in math, music, and more. Chua's description of strict discipline and unyielding standards sparked fierce debate over whether American parenting culture is too permissive. "What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it," Chua wrote, "To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences."

Why it's controversial: The debate was fierce in the media and in moms' groups across the country. Some said Chua was a "mean mom" whose sky-high expectations were unhealthy and damaging to her children, who could never hope to please her. Others countered that Chua's technique was a refreshing change of pace from the self-esteem-first, "everybody's a winner" paradigm of modern American parenting.

How it impacted your life: The "Tiger Mother" discussions -- in the media and at playgrounds alike -- opened the door to self-reflection over where your parenting style falls on the "Tiger" spectrum. For some of you, Chua's argument was permission to be "harder" on your kids without feeling like you're scarring them for life. For others, Chua's perspective only increased your commitment to giving your kids a broad definition of "success."

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