“Happiness is not a concept I tend to dwell on. Chinese parenting is not about happiness,” says Taiwanese-American author and mother Amy Chua, a Yale law professor who coined the popular term “mom.” tiger” in her 2011 bestseller “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” a concept that attempted to define the Chinese community’s cultural stance on the education of their children. Modern society considered this style of parenting to place an emphasis on an excessively high academic level, but as Chua says, the Asian emphasis on education has existed for centuries before her book came out. While the expression “tiger mom” captured the American imagination, it also became a racist stereotype. The true “tiger mom” parenting style is more complex, and can have serious drawbacks for some children, but significant benefits for others, depending on the family.
What is a “tiger mom” and its prevalence in the Asian-American community
According to Amy Chua, most Americans believe that “Tiger Moms” control their children’s upbringing in a “very controlling, strict and harsh way, almost to the point of abuse.” Instead of watching TV or going outside play, the Tiger Mom has been accused of prioritizing academic excellence above all else.Studies reveal that Chinese households spend ten times more time drilling on studies than Western parents.An online survey of 1,800 participants, conducted by the China Youth Research Center, revealed that 95% of Chinese families claimed to know Chinese mothers who fit this parenting style.In contrast, some experts have pointed out that most Chinese fathers do not identify with this method (He, 2011). This result was reinforced by a study from the University of Texas which revealed that only 28 percent of Asian parents use the tiger parenting style.In short, everyone claims to know one, but few claim to be.
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Origin of the stereotype
Although the phrase “Tiger Mom” became popular from Amy Chua’s memoirs, Chinese cultural history has emphasized education from 1045-255 BC, during the Zhou dynasty. Educational institutions were divided into academies for the nobility or village schools for common citizens. The concept that higher education was an upper-class virtue elevated it to a privilege. With the Han Dynasty that followed, the philosophy of Confucius became the national educational doctrine of China. Confucius believed that education built trust, which ultimately led to peace, and that without knowledge, one would be ignorant. He also thought of education as a continuous process of self-improvement that could be most effectively accomplished through “training.”
Although Confucius made his ideas known in China, the methods of “tiger breeding” also spread to other regions of Asia, such as Vietnam. The strong influence of Confucianism in Vietnamese culture has created a hierarchical structure in society in which elders are seen as superior and demand respect. Historical hardships, such as famine and poverty, gave rise to generations of Vietnamese parents who overemphasized the importance of education over other activities (Heymann, 2006).
In recent society, the adoption of the “Tiger Mom” parenting style has been employed at times by immigrant parents struggling to find a balance between their American children and their own parental and cultural expectations (Shin, Wong, 2013).
Lasracist roots take over
Following the popularization of the phrase “tiger mom” in 2011, it has continued to be used by most Americans today as a poor attempt to categorize Chinese upbringing. Americans have done little or no research on the various parenting styles within the Chinese community. Additionally, media coverage has reinforced the stereotype by dramatizing Amy Chua’s story and applying it to an entire culture. And what is worse, the “tiger mother” has gone from being something close and humorous to what could be considered a racist stereotype. Asian moms were publicly portrayed as extremely tough, but successful nonetheless. For example, the stereotype paints the “tiger mother” as someone who requires her children to have a perfect selectivity score and a 4.0 unweighted GPA. According to Peter H. Huang’s Tiger Mom to Panda Parent, the cartoon can “reinforce a stereotype of competent but unsociable Asians that has been shown to evoke fear and envy” and manipulates the anxiety of threatened non-Asian Americans. by the possibility of Asian students taking the places of white students in prestigious universities (Poon, Byrd 2013).
A leading social psychologist, Susan Fiske, forcefully observed that “envy is harm waiting to be done.” History has indicated that people will react in response to their prejudices under pressure or when seeking support from influential figures in their environment (Fiske, 2010). Resentment toward Asian Americans by other racial groups has been attributed to perceived economic and educational success among the Asian community (Hendershott, 2021). Perhaps this harmful stereotype has contributed to the recent rise in hate crimes against Asians.
Lassubtleties of parenting style
Tiger parenting may not lead to the best academic and social-emotional outcomes for some children. Some studies and statistics show that children with “tiger” parents were more likely to suffer from depressive symptoms, academic pressure, and a strained parent-child relationship. The leading cause of death among Asian Americans ages 15 to 24 is suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, no other racial group lists suicide as the leading cause of death.
In stark contrast, author Amy Chua writes, “I can’t tell you how many Asian children I’ve met who, while acknowledging how oppressively strict and brutally demanding their parents were, gleefully describe themselves as devoted to their parents and incredibly grateful to them.” , seemingly without a trace of bitterness or resentment” Asian parents have been shown to express support and love for their children through various displays and methodologies (Huang, 2021). Additionally, a study interviewing 24 Chinese mothers of high school students in Nanjing, China, found that the majority of mothers supported their children’s independence and socialization almost as much as their academic success (Way). Tiger parenting is rooted in values of independence, emphasizing a close relationship within the family (Markus). They focus on academic achievement, but it is not their only concern. Modern Chinese women are equally concerned with fostering qualities such as self-reliance and self-confidence, which they believe will help their children succeed in a market economy.
Over the centuries, Chinese parenting has evolved and traveled to the United States through generations of immigrants. Recently, it has been misrepresented as a very strict and invective stereotype bordering on caricature, but like the nature of stereotypes, labels don’t apply to everyone and individuals react in unique ways. The successful “Tiger” parenting style has both good and bad results for children, depending on family dynamics and individual responses. Ultimately, no parenting method is completely effective or inadequate, and perfection is an unattainable goal.
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