Tiger Mom's Contract With Her Adult Daughters Puts Her Back In The News

by Ashley Austrew
Originally Published: 
Image via Stephen Lovekin/Getty

The Tiger Mom made her adult daughters sign a contract before moving back home

A few years ago, the “Tiger Mom” took the world by storm when she released a controversial book asserting that the only way to raise successful kids is to drill-sergeant the hell out of them. Now, Amy Chua’s children are grown women, but apparently the Tiger Mom-ming doesn’t end at 18. In a recent feature in the Wall Street Journal, Chua revealed she’s making her adult daughters sign a strict contract before they’re allowed live in her apartment over summer break.

Chua writes that her daughters, 23-year-old Sophia and 20-year-old Lulu, are spending their summer working in New York City, and plan on staying rent-free in “the pied-à-terre that my husband, Jed, and I spent 20 years saving up for.” Fearful that her daughters might take advantage of her hospitality, the mom says she used her skills as a Yale Law School professor to draw up an iron-clad agreement that will keep them in line.

“Whereas Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld are the owners of Apt. [XXX] and their children are not,” the document begins. “Whereas Children owe their parents everything, even in the West, where many have conflicted feelings about this. In exchange for Amy and Jed allowing them to stay in their NYC apartment… Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld and Louisa Chua-Rubenfeld agree to the following irrevocable duties and conditions.”

Curious about the conditions? Well, they’re pretty strict. First of all, Sophia and Lulu are sharing a bedroom and a bed, which the contract states they must make every day without fighting over who does it. Other items include:

To greet Jed Rubenfeld & Amy Chua with spontaneous joy and gratitude whenever they visit.
To never, ever use the phrase, “Relax—it’s not a big deal.”
Whenever any guests visit, to come out of the bedroom immediately in a respectable state, greet the guests with enthusiasm, and sit and converse with the guests in the living room for at least 15 minutes.
To fill the refrigerator with fresh OJ from Fairway for Jed on days when he is in town.
To keep the pillows in the living room in the right place and PLUMPED and to clean the glass table with Windex whenever it is used.

Lastly, the contract says, “Sophia and Louisa agree that the above duties and conditions will not be excused even in the event of illness, hangovers, migraines, work crises or mental breakdowns (whether their own or their friends’).”

Damn, Tiger Mom. You drive a hard bargain.

The reactions to Chua’s contract have, understandably, been mixed. Some think it’s a fantastic idea, especially at a time when more adult children than ever are moving home with mom and dad. Others think she’s asking too much. As one person wrote in the discussion on the Wall Street Journal, “They are your children, they did not ask to come into this world. YOU CHOSE TO BRING THEM HERE. It is your responsibility to help them out through out their life.”

Presumably, Chua does believe she’s helping them, even though she’s helicoptering harder than she did when they were four years old. And, while many parents are unlikely to ever make their adult children share a bed or revamp our beloved OJ stash, it’s hard to argue with the idea of setting boundaries for grown kids who end up back in the nest.

When you’re living under your parents’ roof, they get to make the rules. Whether that means charging rent or requiring kids to take on specific chores, it’s not out of the question to have expectations for how your adult children function inside your house. Chua might be one tough cookie, but her daughters won’t spend the summer sitting around in their pajamas at noon, and playing on Facebook while their parents scream at them to brush their teeth and get a part-time job. When you look at it that way, a ball-busting behavior contract doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

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