Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
Amy Chua’s article, Why Chinese Mother’s are Superior has caused quite a media frenzy. Many readers were appalled by her parenting techniques but as I read it, I saw my own mother and father reflected back in Chua’s words. I am the product of a Tiger Mom and Dad.
Let me start by saying that despite my Tiger upbringing I love my parents and I know they love me.
Like Chua’s children, I wasn’t allowed to attend sleepovers until 8th grade, I couldn’t have boyfriends, anything less than an A was unacceptable, and although my parents didn’t discourage me from joining dance and choir, let’s just say they didn’t show up to every recital.
I spent my entire life trying to please my parents. But as Chua’s husband eloquently pointed out, it’s not a child’s job to please. My Tiger mother was definitely more ferocious than my Tiger father. In 5th grade, I told a boy I had a crush on him. My mom overheard me telling my sister. The very next day she looked me straight in the eye and lied, “Your principal called. She learned you told that boy you liked him. That’s against school policy. She said the next time you do that, you’re going to be expelled.” I was terrified. In 9th grade, I learned that I was one of the top 5 students in my grade. Boy was I proud of myself. I ran home to tell my father. His reaction, “Let me know when you’re number one.” Ouch. As a child of Tiger parents, majoring in anything other than science, law, or engineering is unheard of. I decided on journalism. Every semester my parents asked if I was sure. After they learned of the relatively meager salary, my mom raced to point out, “You must regret your decision.”
“No, I don’t Mom.”
A Tiger mom and dad’s expectations of success don’t end after college because to my parents, you are perpetually a child who needs guidance. I moved home after college because finding a job in this economy is hard. I worked in retail for a few months and then for my dad as an office assistant. We had a “meeting” on my first day.
“Your mother and I are concerned you’ve become very mediocre and if you don’t get your life together you’ll work in retail forever. And maybe it’s time you let go of writing and try a real career.”
“Writing is my dream.”
“You do know the difference between a career and hobby, right?”
Being the child of Tiger parents is tough, unless you’re unequivocally obedient. I even managed my fair share of confined rebellion. In the end, all my parents ever wanted was to raise a successful child and they have. They said and did these things in order for me to be on top. It was the only way they knew how to raise children. I definitely don’t condone their parenting strategies. But in between those harsh remarks, were countless moments of love and tender care. And I know that no one would climb as many mountains or swims as many seas to see a smile on my face as they would.
Plus: Check out a previous blog post by an editor Do Chinese Mother’s Raise Successful Children?