Category Archives: The Tiger Mother

The Tiger Mom’s Ancient Chinese Secret

I’ll give you a hint: it’s not Calgon.  And it’s not even a secret anymore, now that Amy Chua’s article Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior has emerged into our collective psyche, enraging American Mommies from coast to coast.

Now, you might think that American Mommies are angry because the Tiger Mom is so strict and possibly abusive.  She did, after all, admit to calling her daughter a piece of garbage when she was too disrespectful one day.  And she doesn’t let her daughters do practically anything that the rest of us do – no television, no computer games, no sleepovers, no school plays – and that’s sort of like being a vegan, isn’t it? 

If she’s doing it different, then she must think you’re doing it wrong, yes?  And worse, she must think your mom did it wrong, too.

Correct.  In fact, it’s right there in the title, and something tells me that it isn’t really her strict, maybe-not-so-borderline-abusive parenting style that’s bothering American Mommies.  It’s that she had the gall to declare her style superior to the Standard American Mommy style.

What a bitch, right?  I mean, you know she’s wrong, because your style is obviously superior to hers.  And your mom was a WAY better mom than Chua’s mom.  She has a lot of nerve saying…

Ooop, wait a minute, you’re both claiming to be superior to each other, aren’t you?  I mean unless you think that it’s a tie?

The frustrating thing about the Tiger Mom of course is that she can prove a certain strain of superiority.  Straight A’s, musical virtuosos – how do you want to keep score?

Did you just say happiness?  That seems to be what I keep hearing the mommies say.  I’m as great a mom as the Tiger Mom even though my kid’s knocking out C’s and can’t even play the little flute thing from second grade – because my kid’s so happy!  Yayy!!

Meanwhile, the other half of the country is busy complaining about American kids and their materialism and short attention spans and underachievement and constant texting and the way they run amok in restaurants and scream their heads off on planes.

Amy Chua is not breaking the law or even talking about breaking the law.  Let’s all get that through our heads right now, because the only way that you would know if this Yale Law Professor were breaking the law would be if she for some reason described it in her article or in her book.  If she did something so The Opposite Of A Law Professor, then the county wouldn’t be shy about swinging by and checking her out. 

Of course if they visit her then what do you think they’d find?  Miserable children locked up in basement rooms eating raw turnips and solving equations on a blackboard?

Close.  Here’s Amy Chua with her two daughters – doesn’t the misery and hate just emanate from this photograph?  God, how can she put them through it, you know?  I think that one on the left is about to stab her, what do you think?

Huh.  Well, they’re probably just terrified of her and pretending to be happy.  Let’s just go ahead and assume the opposite of what is depicted here, since what is depicted doesn’t match our idea of how miserable these kids should be.

Naturally, the first thing to happen is other adults raised in similar Asian households popped up instantly to warn us all that being raised by a Tiger Mom makes your soul all hurty.  Just ask Lac Su, author of I Love Yous Are For White People, which by the way is a pretty weird title. 

I mean, that’s it, Chinese people and white people?  I think he means, “Non-Asian Members of Non-Tiger Mom Families” but that’s not a very catch title, is it?

Anyway, Lac Su discusses his painful upbringing in this article Tiger Mothers Leave Lasting Scars, in which he also feels free to speculate on Chua’s psychological motivations for doing things the way she does them, all without a psychological examination.  Isn’t he amazing?

I don’t know, all I can tell you is, the guy sounds kind of whiny to me.  Can’t help but notice you’re a writer for CNN, there, buddy – I wonder if your strict upbringing had anything to do with your success, or if you got there by getting away from those parents and watching Adam Sandler movies all the time? 

Yes, I know, his mom made him eat cow brains.  Isn’t that horrible?  That’s obviously a part of a cow that we shouldn’t make our kids eat, as opposed to all the other wonderful, non-gross parts of cows that we give them here in our culture.  Hey you!  This is America – make sure that cow brain goes to waste!

My first thought upon seeing all these articles by other people with Tiger Moms and how horrible it was for them is, gee, that’s odd.  Amy Chua was raised the same way, and she thinks it turned her into the brilliant, disciplined Yale Law Professor she is today, with three published books and a beautiful family and what generally looks like an all-around successful life.

So either you critics did not in fact grow up in the same envionment Chua did – in which case, who cares? – or you did grow up in the same environment, and Chua just handled it better.

Seriously, you’re whining, she’s singing the praises of her parents.  Which one of you am I supposed to like again?

I have to say, I had this image of Amy Chua as this horrible person, but I read her article for myself and thought she was hilarious.  I like the part where she says to her husband – “Fine!  You be the fun one and take them to games and buy them cookies, and I’ll be the bad one who hammers in all the academic and musical excellence.”

See, I’d take that deal from my Yale professor wife – no problem, sweetheart, we’ll be down at Coldstone.

The part where she’s at a dinner party talking about calling her daughter a piece of garbage and then one of the American Mommies starts to cry – that’s absolutely priceless.  If I’m at a dinner party and you make someone’s Mom cry, I’m probably scooting my chair closer to you, just for sheer originality.  Let’s get over here where the action is.

Meanwhile, poor Amy Chua’s sitting there thinking she’s telling an awesome Gotcha parenting story.  “So I says to her, shut up you piece of garbage.  Right?  Am I right or am I right, ladies?  Ladies?”

Yep, that’s a dinner party conversation stopper. 

Really the key to that story is context, though. She claims her daughter was extremely disrespectful to her, and the thing about teenagers is, they don’t always listen to reason.  Often they are being outrageously unbelievably nuts and they know it, they just compensate by sobbing.

I’ll bet if you’ve got teenagers, you’ve said something crazy like that.  I’ll bet the worst thing to ever fly out of your mouth was in the ballpark.  You’re just not talking about it, and that makes sense.  Chua didn’t have to tell us, either.

I don’t know if there’s enough disrespect to make such an insult okay in my book, but generally, I’m not too worried about it.  I don’t think you should knock your kid down on the floor, either, but if your kid takes a swing at you with a tire iron or something, then you need to do me and yourself and all of society a favor, and you need to go ahead in that particular scenario and knock your kid down on the floor.  Call me crazy.

Here’s a world we live in where kids have credit cards and wear hundreds of dollars worth of clothes made by third world slave labor, a world where laziness and entitlement issues are rendering an entire generation completely out of touch with reality and respect.  What’s going to happen when we run out of stuff to hand them?

They’re going to go work for Amy Chua’s kids, is my guess.  Something tells me that’s going to be a rough transition, too.

Grab a social worker and ask her to describe to you the worst mom she saw today.  You’ll start hearing about chains on doors and excrement on walls and babies eating dog food, and then ask her about yesterday and the day before.  You’ll find out that there are literally millions of rock stupid parents out there setting their kids up for spectacular failure, just completely refusing to equip them for a responsible adult life at all.

Yes, but let’s make sure the Tiger Mom lets her musical prodigy honor students watch the Disney Channel because Hannah Montanna Deprivation is just absolutely killing their social lives and it’s just so cruel I’m going to cry. 

Seriously, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask everybody to climb on down out of Amy Chua’s butt now.  Sometimes kicking ass isn’t pretty.

She’s not telling you that you have to raise your kids the way she does.  She’s merely explaining to us why her kids are going all Harlem Globetrotter on the rest of our kids.  I think she’s being kind of considerate and nice, and I’d totally want her to come over to my house for dinner with my family. 

The only problem is, I don’t think she’d let her kids hang out with mine.


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