I initially wrote this on my Tumblr but with this topic and its views being splashed all over the blogosphere, I thought I should add my two cents in as well.
The newspapers and the Internet have been talking about “Tiger Parenting”, a form of parenting that seems characteristic of Asian Parents to the liberal West. Who has never heard of horror stories where mothers cane their children mercilessly with thin wires for getting a B+ in an “all C” test paper or fathers who constantly tell their children that they are not good enough?
Now, according to Urban Dictionary, any child under the parenting of an older generation Asian Parent is doomed to a life of monotony and constant pursuit of perfection with blood to pay if it’s not reached. To be honest, I’m quite surprised that Urban Dictionary has yet to mention anything about sexism.
Regardless, my take is this:
We don’t have a Tiger Parenting issue. We have a Balanced Parenting issue.
I’m not a parent, but I’ve seen enough good and bad parenting in the same house, on the streets and helped with the raising of enough younger siblings to tell which affects the child well and what does not.
Many of my traditional relatives make it very clear that they abhor Western practices, claiming that western practices only make their children arrogant and immoral. This mainly comes from the saying that you should never praise your child or he/ she will become arrogant and stupid.
I lived in a house where I was never allowed to go for Birthday Parties, HAD any Birthday Parties, classmate’s houses for project work or just out on a regular outing until I was 14. Same went with my younger brother and my cousins until they turned 12.
But that came with a consolation that actually overcompensated for everything:
- We didn’t have to get Straight As because we worked hard and our parents knew it. Hell, our parents got chided by grandparents for having expectations.
- Rewards (LOTS of them) in forms of games, toys, food, outings etc… from both parents and grandparents for anything that made them happy. (P/S – My brother failed a final. (OMGOSH RIGHT?!) but he improved the rest of his subjects and STILL got a Gameboy)
- Crazy amount of savings. (from saving pocket money and the lack of spending)
- We knew how to cook and clean basically.
- Early “self-actualisation”: Unlike our peers, we started looking at things at a more different perspective and realised what we wanted to do at an earlier stage.
- We learnt to see the sense and the nonsense in things.
- We became self-motivated and driven. Well, at least a little bit.
- OH! Big one, huge tool especially against nosy relatives during CNY: NO NEED TO RUSH TO GET SIGNIFICANT OTHERS. (insert all the perks without pressure)
And while it may all look rosy and “OMGOSH MIRACLE ASIAN PARENTS” to some, it didn’t come without hardship. Grandpa still doesn’t outrightly praised his grandchildren because he feels it’ll make us immoral.
At my age of 23, I still get asked tons of questions to keep an update on outings (I don’t get SMS requests for updates anymore though TYVM) But the main thing was that while the strict protection (especially against going out) seemed horrific and the cause of a great deal of “sua ku”ness to a lot of people, it actually moulded us to think more positively and further.
What will be the consequences of our actions? What will happen if I say this? These are lessons that our children should be asking themselves. Not “Omgosh if I do this wrongly I’ll get belted!”
I actually think that Tiger Parents will eventually be walked out on, no amount of Confucianism will save you on this if you go so far as to treating your children like your slaves, despite how much you justify it.
And Parents who mollycoddle their children will have children who think they’re above everything. Either way, you’ll get walked out on.
So strike a balance, will you please?