Tiger Parenting – The Only Way to Grow Up

I’ve referenced Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother before, and although she’s now apologetic about her choice of harsh words, I stand by that tough love and strict Asian parenting is the way to do it!
Standing by what you say with scary eyes is the only way to stand.
Although I’ve never read her book, so I can’t speak to what she actually said, it’s important to understand that every word in her book is truth regardless of however crazy it is.

Asian Parenting is strict (truth). There’s a lot of studying involved (truth), and it’s not just normal Monday through Friday school studying. You have to study for Asian school and pop-quizzes on your instrument (truth).

“You call that Romance D’Amour?”
If High School me were my son, I would have disowned him at this exact moment.

My mother’s never played an instrument, but that didn’t stop her from telling me how to play one. I took piano lessons from an actual teacher for 8 years, and I practiced daily. But practicing piano also became a punishment when I didn’t do well on a test. My half hour of piano practice would become two hours, cutting into my free time, which didn’t even exist in the first place. I was too busy studying.

All these things are stark preparation for life. There are so many things you have to do, and no matter what you do in life, there will always be more things to do. Just because everyone else only has to go to Monday through Friday “normal” school doesn’t mean you get off that easily. Everyone’s different, and the leniency of only have the basic amount of work prepares you for being normal. Why would you want to be normal anyways? Normal’s lame and boring.

Asian parents push you. They don’t catch you. Knowing your family will catch you if you fall makes you comfortable. You know they’ll be there to back you up, so you can relax. It doesn’t push you, and you’ll wind up being soft and doughy.

Parents catch you => comfortable you => giant stay puft marshmallow man terrorizing Manhattan … slippery slope | from Wikipedia

Whereas having a mother that makes you second-guess you’re very existence keeps you on your toes and teaches you an important life-lesson early:

“No matter where you, son, I see. Also, pink bad color on you.
And women’s clothing? You make sad.”

Your family takes care of you in the sense that they will feed you, clothe you, and keep you alive. And if you’re lucky, they’ll back you up half of the time. Because it’s only half of the time, you don’t know what you’ll get if you ask for help. You may get help, you may get a simple “no,” or you may get help at the cost of a 3 hour lecture and forever-shame.


Your parents will wind up bringing this moment of weakness back up to you for the rest of your life. “Remember when you need Mom to write you doctor note? Couldn’t stand up to teacher on own? You never be man.”

Because of the harsh teaching, I became self-sufficient when I was seven. While everyone else was eating sandwiches their mom made, I was eating sandwiches I made. I was making my own ham sandwiches to take to school because both my parents were working, and life was tough. “What about lunch money?” you may ask.

WELL, TOUGH LUCK, BUDDY. I got to buy lunch from elementary school twice a month. The other days, I had to pack my own lunch to make sure I had something to eat. Money’s hard to come by, and you have to pick what you want to buy with it. In retrospective, not eating elementary school food was probably a wise decision considering that pink goop is allowed, milk comes in a bag, and that pizza is a vegetable when tomatoes are classified as fruits…

Additionally, if I was hungry when I got home, I would make instant noodles on the stove with an egg in it. How many seven-year-olds can do that?

Yah, you keep smiling at the camera.

I’ve mentioned before that my High School allowance was only $30 a month. That may be a lot to some of you, and that may be very little to others. All I know is that that’s what I had, and regardless of what other people got, I had to make do with what I did. If I wanted more, I had to go get a job. Did I get a job? No. I was banking on the fact that my education would pay off in the future. Did it? I’m a self-employed designer and marketer, and I didn’t go get an education in any of those things other than trial-by-fire jobs. I went to college and got an English degree, and I turned it into marketing lingo and rhetoric.

Growing up in an Asian childhood was tough, but it was chock full of preparation for the rest of my life. And as you grow up, you question all of that stuff anyways including your parents. Did my mom watch me practice piano every day for the entire 8 years? No. She stopped when I was nine because she trusted that I would do it. Did I do it? No. Were my parents always right? No. Did I get to go out and play with friends? Yes. Is Amy Chua the authority on all things Asian?

No. I am.

Like all good parents, you’ll take the best of what you know and leave the rest. But making sure your kids learn life lessons is absolutely important, and you’ve got to trust that they’ll be able to figure stuff out on their own.