SYPM 011: Untigering with Iris Chen

In this episode we talk with Iris Chen about her new book, Untigering: Peaceful Parenting for the Deconstructing Tiger Parent.

Iris admits to being a parent who engaged in “yelling, spanking, and threatening with unreasonable consequences” – but far from becoming a well-behaved, obedient child, her son fought back.  The harder she punished, the more he resisted. Their home became a battleground of endless power struggles, uncontrollable tantrums, and constant frustration.

But Iris didn’t know what else to do: she had learned this over-controlling style from her own parents: watching TV without permission, talking back to her father, and having a boyfriend before college were simply out of the question when she was growing up.

In her parents’ eyes, they had done all the right things: Iris got good grades, graduated from an elite university, and married another successful Chinese-American.

But through interacting with her son, Iris realized that all of these achievements had come at a great cost: a cost that her son was trying to show her through his resistance.  Eventually Iris saw that her son’s behavior wasn’t the problem; he was simply reacting to her attempts to control him, and that it was her own approach that needed to change.

Now Iris is well along her own Untigering path: basing her relationship with her children on finding win-win solutions to problems, being flexible, and respecting each other’s boundaries.

As I do too, Iris sees this path as a journey toward creating a society where everyone belongs.

If you see yourself in Iris’ descriptions of her early days as a parent, and especially if you find yourself routinely overreacting to your child’s age-appropriate behavior, I invite you to join my Taming Your Triggers workshop, which will help you to understand the true source of your triggered feelings (hint: it isn’t your child’s behavior!), feel triggered less often, and respond more effectively to your child on the fewer occasions when it does still happen.

Click here to learn more about Taming Your Triggers


Jump to highlights:

  • (01:34) Children’s dilemma between being seen/heard and being accepted
  • (02:50) The trauma we pass on to our children
  • (04:04) How to tame your triggers
  • (04:59) Confidence in parenting that gives parents a sense of calm
  • (06:39) Iris as a Deconstructing Tiger Parent
  • (08:13) “I thought my responsibility as a parent was to push harder when my child resisted”
  • (09:26) “I saw in my children a freedom to express their resentment in ways that I was never free to”
  • (11:05) The walls that are created between parent and child because children’s authentic selves are not accepted
  • (11:24) Our parents have their own traumas as well
  • (13:18) The Idea of Untigering
  • (14:19) Permissive parenting
  • (16:06) Viewing children as full human beings
  • (18:43) Adultism and Childism
  • (20:05) Is respect something a child needs to earn from their parents?
  • (21:26) Redefining our ideas for success as parents
  • (27:29) Navigating the needs that drive behavior
  • (31:30) Chinese somatization
  • (33:57) The internalization of injustice and suffering
  • (36:50) Holding space for one another and the greater community
  • (41:19) The cascading effect of changing the way we relate to our children


Books and Resources:




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About the author, Jen

Jen Lumanlan (M.S., M.Ed.) hosts the Your Parenting Mojo podcast (, which examines scientific research related to child development through the lens of respectful parenting.

Her Finding Your Parenting Mojo membership group supports parents in putting the research into action in their real lives, with their real families. Find more info at

She also launched the most comprehensive course available to help parents decide whether homeschooling could be right for their family. Find out more about it – and take a free seven-question quiz to get a personalized assessment of your own homeschooling readiness at

And for parents who are committed to public school but recognize the limitations in that system, she has a course to help support children's learning in school at

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