Tiger Moms Hinder the Development of Children's Imaginations

While my wife and I sat with our children waiting for the concert to begin, I leaned over to our friend Grace, a first grade teacher, and asked, “How do you feel about us keeping our kids up this late on a school night?” She smiled and responded, “I love it!”

The next day, as our slightly tired five-year-old son happily pretended to be a member of "The President’s Own" Marine Band, I recalled our teacher friend’s words. “I love that you guys bring your kids to things like this on a school night. It’s so helpful for their imaginations.”

Years ago, when my wife and I were expecting our first child, many well-intentioned people warned us that married life as we knew it was over. We were told that for the next dozen years or so, our lives would revolve around activities geared toward children. We refused to believe it.

From the get-go, my wife and I decided that we were not going to allow our lives to be ruled by our children. And, lest anyone assume that our motives were purely selfish, we believed that this course of action would best serve our kids, too. Specifically, we believed that exposing our children to all manner of experiences would aid the development of their imaginations.

Imagination is a precious commodity that not only opens up employment opportunities, but also enriches our time on this planet. In his book The Body in the Mind, philosopher Mark Johnson wrote, “Without imagination, nothing in the world could be meaningful. Without imagination, we could never make sense of our experience.”

Very few people debate the importance imagination plays in child development. In fact, imaginative play is so overwhelmingly recognized as important that the UN Commission for Human Rights has declared that imaginative play is a basic human right for children, explaining that “the value of creative play and exploratory learning is widely recognized in early childhood education.”

In his popular TED Talk video, Sir Ken Robinson entertainingly details why he believes “creativity now is as important as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.” Robinson contends that classrooms need to foster the growth of imagination in children. He argues that creativity is a catalyst for their success, especially as college degrees continue to become devalued. His concern is that schools crush the imaginations of children in service to our society’s industrial emphasis.