Have you read that book ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’? I have. I can honestly say I could write my own version. Warning: this is my story and my story only. This is not a post about how you should be, how I want to be, how you should parent – or not parent. This is not a post to offend anyone. This is my own story.
What exactly is a Tiger Mom? (Here begins the longest run-on sentences – my apologies to the grammar nazi’s out there). To me, a Tiger Mom is a full Chinese (or Asian), traditional, parenting by brute-force, driven by success, makes no exceptions, uses verbal and physical force to establish a point, excuses and complaining are not allowed – ever, playdates are rarely accepted, friends of status are friends to keep, image is everything, appearance is everything…and the list could go on but I will spare you. HOWEVER, as a daughter of a Tiger mom… dominance is not OK, playing piano or instrument is a necessity – not only that, but to practice for at least one hour, if not two, per day, sweets/candy were only given on occasion, being anything but thin is to be obese, there is no such thing as being in second place, fear is instilled if you do not follow directions or orders correctly, you are never good enough, there is always something you could do better, you could always look better, there is always something to nitpick, if you’re not good anything – you keep trying until you are (or blue in the face), emotions are not spoken of freely, you are to always look and act the part, especially in public, any ‘f’ ups are not acceptable and could potentially embarrass her which will result in a slap across the face or spanking, asking for water when you are extremely thirsty and under the age of 3 results in your hand being placed on the cutting board with a knife held up against your fingers with her yelling at you saying that if you don’t stop asking, she will cut off your fingers with the knife one by one, if you misbehave in any way – she will grab your arm and squeeze your arm until her fingernails dig into your skin creating wonderful little scabs in shapes of fingernails… and the list could go on.
Hmm… well let’s just begin by saying, I am grateful for many different aspects of how I grew up. All things listed above are not shared by every tiger mom, just by the one that I know best, my own tiger mom. How about we start with the things I’m grateful for to ease things into the core of it all. I am grateful for … having two parents to raise me, that my parents decided to have two kids after me – those being my sisters, for teaching me discipline, introducing me to sports, introducing me to music, teaching me what hard work means, learning how to be independent, understanding sharing and to be disciplined, to learn how to just do things – things you don’t necessarily want to do, and of course, fake it until you make it.
Now for the fun stuff. Let’s just say it was really difficult to grow up in my household for a number of reasons. Many of which, I will not mention. However, I can say, that the Chinese culture can be unforgiving in a number of ways. The ‘American’ way of parenting versus the ‘Chinese’ way of parenting often conflict. Again, I must emphasize, I am in no way saying how someone should parent, or the right or wrong way to go about things. It’s just my observation. From what I’ve seen, it seems that Asian parents more often than not, are more commanding and demanding. You are not given a choice. Appearance, how you looked and acted visually and politically was what mattered most. Isn’t that ironic? People do this on a daily basis and often times, to this extent – to keep the peace of course. However, people can read through this quite easily more often than you think. To be the ‘perfect’ family is not the norm. Every family has it’s struggles, hardships, and stressful times. Here is my question, how much should you pretend – and how much should you be genuine when it comes to your private versus public life? Please note, this does not include work or career settings.
More to come… these are thoughts for now… our wedding is in FIVE days! Woot woot!