The Truth About Tiger Mothers
In her parenting memoir, Amy Chua lists several such things that she would never allow her daughters to do - The Truth About Tiger Mothers introduction. It is under these strict guidelines that Chua’s two daughters, both of whom are considered as math geniuses and music prodigies, achieve great success in school. With her book coming out, a lot of people are amazed by her successful, yet strict child-rearing experience. Meanwhile, they come to question this Chinese parenting model: How can parents be so “cruel” to their children?
Admittedly, I have a Tiger Mother similar to Chua. When I was a child, she also executed strict rules: never allowing me to get a grade lower than A minus; limiting my extracurricular activities to learning Chinese painting and calligraphy; spying on me during English spelling drills, and so on. At first, I was really upset about her extreme “cruelty. ” But now I come to realize why Chinese Tiger Mothers, including mine, are so strict with their children.
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Unlike most Western parents who are anxious about their children’s self-esteem and therefore constantly try to reassure them, Chinese mothers assume diligence and strength in their children, believing they can finally get over troubles if they work hard enough. As a result, Tiger Mothers will take an extremely harsh stance if their children do not meet their expectations. Once I got a B on my English midterm. When I handed the score report to my mother, she gasped in horror and anxiously asked what was wrong with me.
Well, I am using euphemism here because in fact, she angrily called me “trash” in Chinese. Later, that day turned out to be a nightmare filled with hundreds of “cloze practices” (a type of test in which you put suitable words in spaces in a text where the original ones have been left out). However, in retrospect, what my mother said to me that night when I was struggling with her assigned exercises still echoes after so many years: “You should grow strong to take the shaming and to improve from it. Bearing the hope that their kids can finally get better through hard work, Chinese mothers resort to extreme solutions like humiliation and punishment. Also, Chinese mothers believe they know what is best for their children’s future and take it as their responsibility to impose advice upon the choice of extracurricular activities. Often, they are considered “cruel” to intervene in kids’ interests and preferences. You will hardly hear a Chinese boy announcing proudly to his mother “Hey Mom, I joined in the school football team.
I need to attend the training after school for two hours every day. ” What you will hear in a family conversation is: “Son, I’ve signed you up for the scholastic decathlon team. Try your best and you will like it. ” It does not mean Chinese parents do not care about their children’s interests as they force them to a settled path. Instead, they are concerned about how much help the extracurricular activities can offer in their kids’ future professions. After all, mastery of math or violin opens a lot of doors for the career path.
In essence, the Chinese traditional ideology is playing the major role in Tiger Mothers’ “cruelty. ” Their extreme strictness is rooted in the permanent fear of family decline. There is an old Chinese saying “Property can never last three generations. ” Because of the hard work of their parents and grand-parents, the third generation will always be born into great comforts of the middle-class families. They get brand-name clothes, delicate snacks, and cutting-edge electronic devices like the iPhone.
But problematically, they have a tendency of being slack, disobeying their parents and ignoring future careers. In case of this prophecy coming true, Chinese parents react harshly to their children’s laziness, vulgarity and spoildness. Like my mother, thousands of Chinese parents will say to their children: “Always check your test answers three times” or “Look up every word you don’t know and memorize the exact definition. ” They urge their kids to do so because they fear the easy life may make their children take everything for granted and refuse to make the effort.
Also, to make sure I am not pampered like the Romans when their empire fell, my mother insists that I do physical labor, whether it is throwing out garbage bags every day or carrying overloaded packages up and down stairs. Grasped by the long-term fear, Tiger Mothers firmly believe in their advice and assume hard work in their children. These factors make them behave pitilessly in parenting. However, it is under their strict discipline that the children learn to prepare for the future and arm themselves with skills and good habits which are beneficial throughout their life.