The Tiger Mother in Hu

Friday, January 21, 2011

Jeff Yang, "Asian Pop" columnist for and trend forecaster for market research firm Iconoculture, weighs in on the debate over so-called Tiger Mothers, or what he refers to as "Crazy Asian Mom parenting," and relates it to Chinese president Hu's recent visit to the White House.


Jeff Yang

Comments [25]

losangelino from Germany

The rockin' Asian American rapper Jen Kwok has turned this into a song. I like.

Jan. 24 2011 09:55 AM
oscar from ny

ha ha ha, i know for a fact chinese can do everything but one thing they cant beat is oscar in fine art, you see im latin and in the 21st century according to god, thats how its gonna play out..

Jan. 22 2011 12:04 PM


Jan. 21 2011 07:28 PM
Vahak from NYC

This phenomenon can be applied to any mother or parent from Asia, South or Central-Asia, or the Caucuses. It's all whole other style of parenting. It's good, but it's completely closed minded. I've had friends growing up that had total Tiger Parent (well in my culture it would either be a Caspian Tiger or a Siberian Tiger), and I've had friends that had parents that totally Westernized themselves, their children, and their parenting for the sake of conformity and acceptance. I see problems in both, but I see good in both as well. I didn't become the doctor like my sister did, I chose my own path academically. And as supportive my mother was, I see the manner in which she talks of my sister, and the reverence she has for her. This is an attitude that permeates the community I grew up in. It's completely close-minded. What isn't understood is people have their own paths and that people don't have a right to classify them for taking their own as opposed to accepting the traditional one's our Tiger Parents impose. Not everyone can be a doctor, lawyer, engineer... A balance is needed, and maybe the next generation of second generation parents will get it right.

Jan. 21 2011 12:12 PM


Jan. 21 2011 12:10 PM
B from NYC

When my (caucasian) son went to Stuy (recently) it was predominantly Asian. What I want to know is where these Tiger Moms are when their daughters leave for class so very agressivley done up:their faces thick with perfectly applied make up,daringly dressed,almost every girl wearing stilleto-high boots. (I have two daughters (one a doctor, one a masters) so I am not speaking without some experience.)And so unfriendly one could almost feel their hostility palpitating in the air.My sense of young Asain women is that they are a very angry group.Or frightened, yes, they could be frightened-hence the unapproachable look.

Jan. 21 2011 12:10 PM
Udo Dirkenschneider from Park Slope


I think that it is hard to say anything sweeping here -some parents need to push some kids harder, other parents need to leave their kids more alone.

In any case, the stereotype that Chinese and South Koreans are good in school is statistically confirmed. In any case the IQ average for South Koreans is 106 so both an interest in education, and success is easy to explain.

Jan. 21 2011 12:05 PM
Y3 from NYC

The fundamental goal, I believe of Chinese parents is to invoke in their children discipline and a mentality that hard work yields better results.
It is still up to the children, especially when they grow up and be their own adults, to make their own choices; regardless of what musical instrument or what high school they attended.
How many Chinese Americans talk down jokingly of the way they were raised while sitting on a therapists chaise? I don't know any. Most Asian Americans I know, work hard and enjoy their lives and continue chasing their chosen goals.

Jan. 21 2011 12:03 PM

My Asian husband and myself believe it is enough that our 10-year-old wishes to become an engineer like her father and her grandfather. This pleases us so much that we let her watch as much TV as she desires.
We know she is playing us like a violin. But, we don't mind.

Jan. 21 2011 12:01 PM
Deb in Larchmont

I'm wondering if there is a connection between this conversation / book, and the earlier segment on Practical Wisdom. Not having read either book, I can't really tell - but my gut tells me that the ideas in each somehow compliment each other.

Jan. 21 2011 12:00 PM
BEverly from Somerville

1st I think model Chinese people are currently at work and can't call in :). 2. A black sheep journalist! I actual decided to stop studying biology and went for Fine Arts major, ended up in a low pay job and moonlight as a belly dancer! My sister is an aspiring ( for awhile starving) actress she was a bit less rebellious and at least got a business major.

In the end my parents could be disappointed, but they can only say now as long as I'm happy and have a quality of life I can accept.

I think that the one Amy CHua may be right is that you always have to work hard to get good at what you want to be better in. I didn't learn it in my childhood, but what I ended up loving in my early 20's: Belly dance! So I believe if a child likes something encourage it, exemplify that if you work hard at it, they can be better. Being forced to learn violin and piano definitely poisoned my love to get to know music further, the same with my mom and Chinese style dance. She dropped it as soon as she could and never gave me and my sister the opportunity to discover it!

Jan. 21 2011 11:59 AM
katherine Horejsi

My Asian husband and I and I think it’s enough at the age of 10 that our daughter knows what an engineer is and that she plans to be one. Because she expressed that desire, we allow her to watch as much television as she wants. We know she’s playing US like a violin. But, we don’t mind.

Jan. 21 2011 11:58 AM
Eddie from West New York

Jeff Yang rocks. He's also a good friend.

My wife is Chinese and I am Caucasian. I find it funny that she was not the stereotypical Asian American student (i.e. she was not a mathematician or a doctor), yet she is pushing hard for our 3 year old to be a physician.

Jan. 21 2011 11:57 AM
mwong from nyc

hi brian--

i bucked the stereotype system much to my parents dismay. i went to—OMG!—art school. my father said "don't you have to be dead to make money?!" alas, i'm not dead and i do make money as a graphic designer—not a lot—but enough to fend for myself. getting a scholarship to art school and securing a legit corporate job slowly eased their concerns, but it took a bit of conviction to stand by my needs/wants.

Jan. 21 2011 11:57 AM
Ann from NJ

I wonder about the implications of this perfect child phenomenon for college admissions. How will a college maintain a student body with any diversity when confronted with a cadre of uniformly perfect applicants?

Jan. 21 2011 11:54 AM

Back in November, Maclean's ran an article, "Too Asian" regarding Asians in Canadian universities. This came out as a response, not only to the stereotypes of Asians, but to an Asian-Canadian lit class at UBC:

Jan. 21 2011 11:54 AM
Elizabeth from NYC

I agree with the asian style of parenting.

In contrast, the majority of inner-city American Teenagers are indulged and tolerated to the point of their own disadvantage. The apathetic culture of allowing unacceptable behavior causes dysfunctional schools and disruptive society that harms business.

American politicians and administrators CAN and should change culture using the asian model.

Jan. 21 2011 11:53 AM
The Truth from Becky

Stephanie that is exactly what you should have said so the next time the opportunity presents itself speak up!

Jan. 21 2011 11:53 AM
Kin from Brooklyn

I wanted to call in to the show but I'm at work right now......I'm a Asian-American in my late 20s and I'm bad at math (no joke. To the point all my Asian friends make fun of me for it. I never had the typical experience of a tiger parent which may be why I was never great academically. Although I do sometimes envy those that did. I sometimes wonder would that make me even more successful than most. I ended up going to art school and now work as a artist in a apparel company. (not too bad I guess)

Jan. 21 2011 11:52 AM
MP from Brooklyn

Michelle, that was eloquent. I wish I could have said as well.

Jan. 21 2011 11:49 AM

having served in USMC, I've met and have quite a few Asian Marine friends, some NCO's and some CO's, Asians have a major and positive presence in all branches of our armed forces.

did their parents encouraged them to Join ?

Jan. 21 2011 11:49 AM

A friend of mine made this hilarious video that sums up the topic perfectly...

Chinese Food Forever- Wall St. Journal

Jan. 21 2011 11:48 AM
Stephanie from formally of Morningside

As for stereotypes, I am an adopted Asian American who lived in Maine and was asked by my eighth grade math and science teacher, "Stephanie, I don't know why you're not good in math and science, you're Asian."

I wanted to reply but didn't, "Mrs. M, I don't know why your teaching math and science - your white."

Jan. 21 2011 11:47 AM
Michelle from Long Island City

Beyond the vague, reductivist argument over "Western" vs. "Chinese" parenting, it's important to recognize that kids are remarkably resilient creatures. And that, for better or worse, makes them perfect blank slates on which parents tend to project their own insecurities, aspirations and neuroses, until maybe the filial sons and daughters start to discover that they're not who they've been taught to see themselves as.

Is it any wonder that all this hooplah surrounding Tiger moms is emerging in the midst of growing anxieties about America's place in the world and "losing out" to China as it takes our jobs and outscores us on tests? What would be really sad is conformity to this or that parenting dogma simply on the basis of geopolitical tensions, which have enlisted mothers and children as pawns in a battle for economic and political power. Largely absent from this discussion is that it is taking place under the assumption that this well-resourced realm of the well-educated, middle-class family is the ideal, indeed only, arena in which these parenting dramas can play out. Are mothers and fathers who don't know algebra, or who can't afford violin lessons, also entitled to have their own parenting styles?

Jan. 21 2011 11:42 AM
Cory from Planet Earth

Visit the Asian departments at the Met, or Asia Society, or a Jackie Chan Movie, or read Asian literature. Not exactly Math and Science alone. Nothing like stereotypes to simplify things.

Jan. 21 2011 11:06 AM

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