Untigering by Iris Chen

Peaceful Parenting for the Deconstructing Tiger Parent

-Book Review-

Iris Chen describes herself as an American born Chinese who somehow ended up with kids who are Chinese born Americans. Her Untigering journey explores how she navigates life and parenting at the intersection of both her Chinese and American identities. Her journey has led her from authoritarian practices towards gentle parenting and on to unschooling her own children. If you are unfamiliar with her writing and work, then you can find out more at https://untigering.com/

Iris Chen’s book, she shares her own shift from tiger parent to respectful parenting in a transition which she calls ‘untigering.’ Parents who are drawn to respectfully parent their children will find encouragement and wisdom weaved throughout Iris’ writing. Although she speaks from her own experience and perspective, as an American- Asian, her thoughts transcend beyond cultural boundaries. This book invites you to consider your own transformation and parenting practices.

Whilst the book’s structure leads us through Iris’ journey it also gives us cause to reflect on our own. It is presented in short, manageable, sections (always a favourite with me, as someone who is always on-call) and each creatively titled on a tiger theme. This gives the ideas context and makes the discussion easier to recall and locate if you enjoy re-reading.

The central themes centre around our relationships, past, present and future. Not just to our children, but our ongoing relationships with our parents, our current relationships with our children and how our relationships with the wider world contribute to societal change for the future. She explores the impact of generational change on the multiple generations effected by our choices and how to navigate with respect and honour both those who parented us, as well as those who we parent. In doing so, she implicitly encourages us to explore the complexities of our own upbringing, current beliefs and parenting aspirations.

We are all called within Untigering to redefine parenting skills so as to serve and empower our children as opposed to coerce and control. To work on ourselves, being aware of our own experiences and emotional responses and learning to regulate ourselves, so that we are better equipped to respond respectfully to our children.

It disrupts our desire for control, structure and convenience so that we can engage with our children as partners rather than task masters

iris chen, untigering, page117

However, she doesn’t stop there, defining our parenting practices within the home and having impact solely on our children, families and households. She brings us seamlessly on to consider our contribution to the wider world. The impact we can have in our communities as we live lives that are based on connection and relationship, as we seek to understand each other and get to know each other and challenge wide spread beliefs about meritocracy. That our involvement in our communities should contribute to the thriving of individuals and people groups.

Anti childism and decolonisation are works that we must all be part of. In this respect, this book is a must read for anyone who is active in societal change. It is an excellent read, articulate and insightful, for anyone engaged in the work of societal change through gentle parenting.

How we parent is how we unschool. It is no surprise that this book and its perspective is in line with unschooling. The practice of gentle parenting led Iris to unschool her own children as it has many others. Unschooling equally, leads many to embrace gentle parenting. Centering our relationships in connection, love, joy and partnership are clear thoughts expressed throughout this book and make it a perfect read for any unschooling parent.

Untigering by Iris Chen is available from 5th January 2021 here

Published by heiditsteel

Teacher turned Unschooler: passionate about autonomous education and supporting our children's natural inclination towards learning through play.

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