Thank God we're not all Tiger Mothers now
On the surface, Jonathan Kay's “We're all 'Tiger Mothers Now” in the National Post appears to point to a trend among Canadian parents. In reality, Kay is promoting the more aggressive and often controversial parenting approach of the stereotypically authoritarian Asian parent, described in Amy Chua's book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.
The article is filled with statistics meant to 'shake up' the average white-Canadian parent into developing more structured and stricter parenting techniques, lest their children fall behind their Asian counterparts.
Kay's concern about Canadian universities overflowing with non–white, immigrant students is backwards and distasteful.
As an immigrant who attended a prestigious post-secondary institution, I feel personally offended by the case he is making in this article. He's using the immigrant success story as a cautionary tale to Canadian-born parents.
“Unless Canadian parents acquire a more disciplinary parenting approach, immigrant kids are going to take over the future job market,” he warns ominously.
He attempts to smooth over the racist undertones in his article by criticizing 1920's North American Ivy League universities for introducing quotas in order to decrease the high numbers of Jewish university students. As if a highly educated, multicultural society was something Canadians should fear, he states: “It’s a situation we’re going to have to live with. ”
Putting aside the offensive nature of Kay's article, is being a Tiger Mom all it's cut out to be? Does it really produce the hard working, highly competitive offspring, desired by many modern parents?
Sure, a couple piano lessons a week never hurt anybody. If the parents can afford it, cultivating a child's interest through extracurricular activities is great for the kid's growth and intellectual development. But filling every last minute of their time with after school academic activities can degenerate the ability to acquire social skills, and the stress created by pressure and competition so early on in life, can affect both physical and mental well-being of children.
Also, implementing the authoritative parenting approach can have negative effects on parent-child relationships. Parents cannot expect to be the demanding disciplinarian as well as the trusted friend in whom the child can confide anything.
We've all heard the success stories of high-achieving Asians, but what about Tiger parents who go overboard?
When I first moved to Canada, I went to a predominately first-generation Asian high school. The year before I began attending the school, an Asian father had punished his 16-year-old daughter for receiving a B+ instead of an A on a test, kicking her out of the house without any clothing to wander about the neighborhood completely naked. The humiliation was meant to motivate her to get higher grades the next time around -- but what does that kind of experience do to the child's relationship to her father?