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Old 01-22-2011, 07:49 AM   #46
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Technolog - Tiger Mom is what nightmare memes are made of

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Tiger Mom is what nightmare memes are made of

By Athima Chansanchai

If, like me, you were raised by at least one ultra strict, old-school Asian immigrant parent, you have already experienced the PTSD of flashbacks related to all the Tiger Mom brouhaha.

It's progressed to the appearance of Tiger Mom memes, which you're probably already familiar with on Internet forums and imageboards, where images such as Robert Pattinson jumping, sad Keanu Reeves and Cigar Guy take on a life of their own. It's something that starts appearing everywhere, but it changes all the time depending on who's posting it.

If your friends aren't bombarding you with articles and comments about this roaring controversy, as mine were/are — Tiger Mom is Amy Chua, a Yale Law School professor who stirred up a generation's collective angst with an excerpt of her book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" featured in The Wall Street Journal under the way-to-be-provocative headline, "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior." In it, she describes a fascist-like household where her daughters were never allowed to go to sleepovers, "get any grade less than an A," and "not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama."

You can imagine, there were all kinds of backlash to this, but there was also insightful commentary too, such as this one from San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jeff Yang, who dug deep in the reservoir of the Asian American experience to make a thoughtful analysis of the situation, in the context of Chua's book. In short: Chua's claims may reinforce existing misperceptions about Asian students and families, but, he found that "The 'excerpt' made the book seem like a harsh diatribe against American parenting standards and a handbook of Ancient Chinese Secrets for fixing your lazy, sullen, Wii-addicted kids." So he read the book in one sitting and declared:

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It's a riveting read, and nothing like what the Journal "excerpt" suggests. There's still plenty to be horrified by at in the actual book, but even more, as Wang noted, to think about — and laugh at, as odd as that may seem to those who haven't yet read it: Far from being strident, the book's tone is slightly rueful, frequently self-deprecating and entirely aware of its author's enormities. It's a little, but not quite, like a Chelsea Handler book — if Chelsea Handler were a Chinese American law professor and Momzilla of two.
He also rooted out the puppeteer behind all of the fuss: Rupert Murdoch, who might be married to a Tiger Mom himself.

As much as there was serious soul wrangling in adults reminiscing about their childhood and looking at their own parenting styles now, there was also humor. (Like watching "The Joy Luck Club" in the theater with your friends and realizing this is a little too real, and crying and laughing at the same time about it. Cathartic.) And Yang also found those yucks, as seen in the memes above, which I grabbed from one of his Facebook albums (we're not only Facebook friends, we're real-life friends who have known each other for more than a decade). Here's a link to a meme generator with more laugh-inducing, cringe-worthy sayings, such as this one (to the right). By the way, that's not Chua in the photo, but some stock image. Because, you know, we all look alike.

When you're no longer under oppressive rule and enjoying freedom, it's easier to laugh at the tyranny of the past. But, I have a feeling a lot of us revisiting our childhood are wincing, too. I didn't have a Tiger Mom, but I did have a High Expectations Asian Father who did not let us speak English in the house (that didn't last long), who forced us to go to Thai school, who did not believe in air conditioning during the day (in Florida), who did not "let" me date until I finished college and who did not let us sleep over at other kids' houses (unless they were Thai). I'm grateful now for the discipline he instilled in us and the ability to speak and understand our native language, and my siblings and I have all done well academically and in life, in general, but I would sure like to have some of those childhood memories wiped by Eternal Sunshine.
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Old 01-24-2011, 10:20 AM   #47
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i think someone has capitalized, cunningly, on China panic, as did the publishing company -- was it just a coincidence that the book's publicity blitz coincided with Hu Jintao's visit to the US?
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:45 PM   #48
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I went out with a Chinese girl for years and was heavily involved in the Chinese community and it left a pretty sour taste in my mouth. The mothers were constantly belittling their kids, comparing them to their friends and pressuring them to do well academically to the point of stress. I didn't even like being around them. My girlfriend's mom and her friends even tried to hook her up with another Chinese guy behind my back because they didn't want someone like me (not a doctor or lawyer etc.) being invloved with their daughter. Heck, she even told me that everyone at the church I went to hated me and thought I was a failure. Of course I can't make a blanket statement, but in my experience Chinese moms are not the most enjoyable people.
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Old 01-25-2011, 03:05 PM   #49
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i think someone has capitalized, cunningly, on China panic, as did the publishing company -- was it just a coincidence that the book's publicity blitz coincided with Hu Jintao's visit to the US?
I do remember that back in the 80s, there was a lot of attention in the popular media to Japan's juku ("cram schools") with a similar undertone to it--this ambivalent mix of anxiety ("Whoa! their kids are working way harder than ours!") with defensive contempt for these "robot" academies. Some stereotyping of Japanese parents as slave drivers, too, though in the US those tended to take a backseat to historically more familiar caricatures of Japanese society at large being, well, Borg-like ("And if a guy's company goes under" [gleefully melodramatic gesture] "it's hari kari time!").
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Old 01-29-2011, 09:28 PM   #50
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Just ... no. Stop. Please. Retire.

Please explain why what I posted is wrong.
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:12 PM   #51
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Please explain why what I posted is wrong.
We're having this discussion in another thread. You left in the middle of it. Go there.
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Old 01-29-2011, 11:39 PM   #52
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Please explain why what I posted is wrong.


we now know that kids do best with two loving lesbian moms. chinese or not.
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Old 01-30-2011, 08:28 PM   #53
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one thing i was wondering, this "Tiger Mom" thing, do they encourage their kids to help around the house, and be helpful with everyday practical things, or do they just focus on studies and serious things like that?
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:15 PM   #54
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I don't know, but my own impression of 'achievement treadmill' parents is that they typically don't expect their kids to do squat around the house. So you get class-valedictorian, varsity-athlete, extracurricular-junkie kids who couldn't cook an omelet, replace a faucet, or transplant a few seedlings if their lives depended on it. To be fair, lots of American parents don't teach their kids those things though.
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Old 01-30-2011, 10:08 PM   #55
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So you get class-valedictorian, varsity-athlete, extracurricular-junkie kids who couldn't cook an omelet, replace a faucet, or transplant a few seedlings if their lives depended on it.


guilty as charged.

(though i make a beautiful omelet)
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Old 01-30-2011, 10:26 PM   #56
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The view of the family unit is much stronger in Asia.
I was going to reply with something similar, but in defense of the opposite. Is a strong family unit one with lots if noise, activities, talking, arguing, playing, bonding? Or is it boot camp for adulthood training? I've got 4 kids, a number perhaps higher than the average Chinese family, and I have to say the focus on 'family' is really strong. You could probably mould a child with any significant indoctrinating if you start early enough and are consistent, but I'd rather enjoy watching the emerging personalities of my kids, teaching them the big rules in life and the things which they need to succeed, and let them explore the rest themselves. And you know what, they're always running back to tell us about things. Everything. In detail. Their sense of family is extremely strong.
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Old 01-30-2011, 11:34 PM   #57
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guilty as charged.

(though i make a beautiful omelet)
Me too.

I'm good on the omlets and could probably transplant a seedling.

But replacing a faucet? That would be a problem. . . .
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Old 01-31-2011, 12:12 AM   #58
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I don't know, but my own impression of 'achievement treadmill' parents is that they typically don't expect their kids to do squat around the house. So you get class-valedictorian, varsity-athlete, extracurricular-junkie kids who couldn't cook an omelet, replace a faucet, or transplant a few seedlings if their lives depended on it. To be fair, lots of American parents don't teach their kids those things though.
Heh, I'm not any of the things listed there, and I couldn't begin to figure out how to replace a faucet, either (generally if it involves building/repairing things, don't come to me). Don't know about the seedling things, never really had much of an opportunity to try it. Can make an omelet, though.

I do know of people that definitely fit into that category, though, oh, yes.

Angela
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Old 01-31-2011, 01:29 AM   #59
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The Reader's Digest repair manuals are great. My mother relied on those for everything (my father was notoriously, epically inept at working with his hands, and she wasn't about to take chances), and more often than not she'd have us help her so we'd learn how to do it, too. As with cooking, it may be ideal to learn firsthand, but anyone who can read and follow directions can learn the basics just fine on their own. I know it takes time and patience to teach kids these things, and I certainly don't always feel like it either; it's just I've always found it especially surprising when people who're so driven about building their kids' competence on other fronts completely neglect basic household skills--I assume because there's no money or status gain involved in it.
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Old 01-31-2011, 02:29 AM   #60
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hehe i couldn't replace a tap ("faucet") either - i just call a plumber lol!

i was thinking more about things like helping with cooking, doing the dishes, making their beds, tidying up after themselves and taking the dog for a walk really...

that's really interesting though...

i suddenly thought about it while i was cooking tea last night and it just got me wondering... my kitchen is very much the central part of my home, we have a big table where we eat, the kids do their homework, chit chat, so they're often with me while i'm cooking, doing the dishes etc. and do join in and help now and again... i refuse to give them "chores" - i have an aversion to chores as me and my siblings grew up being given a list of chores as long as my arm, every blinking weekend, of all the jobs my old man didn't feel like doing lol, and it was so mean and unpleasant and i vowed never to inflict that on my kids... but they do lend a helping hand sometimes around the house, helping with a bit of vacuuming/dusting... and i really enjoy those moments, bonding moments really...

they do enjoy cooking too! my kids have both helped me with baking ever since they could stand up, they just wanted to be involved so i would put a teeny tiny apron on them, stand them on a chair next to me, give them a big spoon and let them stir things... we would make a right old mess sometimes, they would get sticky and messy, but it was real fun! and they were very proud of their creations... so they've always been very comfortable around food/cooking, and they're not daunted by pots and pans and both quite happily cook simple things on their own or with minimal supervision these days...

was just thinking about it because i think it's a valuable life skill they've learnt just thru fun really and without any coercion...

it's ever so rewarding too, even in the little things... my 12-year old daughter has recently started offering to make us both a cuppa now and again, and it's so nice and i appreciate it sooooooo much... we turn it into a special event and i go and locate a secret bar of really good chocolate or some nice biscuits for us to share and we sit together with our cups of tea and have a girlie chat... just little moments, but constructive too i feel...
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