American Morning

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January 24th, 2011
10:22 AM ET

Tiger kids reflect on their tiger parents

Amy Chua sparked a national debate with her book 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother' in which she writes about her own traditional Chinese upbringing and her determination to raise her American kids in the same fashion. She says demanding mothers breed results– in her book, Chua recounts a birthday when she rejected her kids' cards, saying they hadn't done their best.

CNN's Alina Cho talked to some grown children raised in traditional Asian households to get their opinions about the strict parenting they grew up with.

Filed under: American Morning
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. joe

    I have seen first hand how "tiger" moms destroy children. I even had an Asian girlfriend in college who had a tiger mom, and she was insanely wild. She couldn't handle the pressures of her mother's constant scrutiny and when she went to college, she exploded into a crazy party girl, who drank and partied herself to death after a cocaine overdose. Kids need support and approval, not love based on conditions or expectations that are impossible to achieve.

    But, in fairness to Amy Chua's book, which I read and didn't just see on the stupid 24 hours news network, she doesn't entirely condone the tiger mother style anymore. She tried to raise her kids just like her mother, and guess what? Her daughters both rebelled at a very young age, and she had to pull back. Her book is more of a comedic take on her crazy mother and how it is nearly impossible to raise Americanized children like a Chinese tiger mom.

    February 3, 2011 at 7:03 am |
  2. Michelle

    After watching the Tiger Kids reflect on their upbringing, it prompted me to reflect on mine. I was born in the US, raised in Australia, my parents are both Taiwanese. They've had a tough life, both were too poor to get educated, they didn't even finish primary school. I understood at a very young age, that the high expectations they placed on my older siblings and I are out of love, and giving us what they never had; an education.

    My older siblings (older brother 7 years older, older sister 10 years older), were under immense pressure from my parents, physical punishment, strict curfew rules and sky-high academic expectations resulted in my older sister running away at 16 and my older brother quitting university studies at 21.

    With my twin and I, my parents took a different approach, the year we started high school (which is year 8 or 1st year junior high), they told us that education is now up to us. My mum said "i can't read English, read your report cards, but i can give you financial support through your education, it is your responsibility to be a good student and be grateful for the education you receive."

    From that day, mum asked how my day was, but didn't look at my report cards, was never required at parent-teacher meetings and my parents never heard a word from the school until our graduation day. That day my twin and i performed at the ceremony, took out a couple of awards each and i can see they were proud.

    Compared to most Asian parents, they were quite liberal, very unconventional in their approach and i am really grateful for the freedom and faith they've given me. They've never compared us to their friends children or asked about grades, they took us out bushwalking and found a balanced approach of raising Asian children in Western society.

    My twin is now a social media strategist with one of the biggest media companies in Australia and i am in my 2nd year in medical school. We've both inherited my parent's strong work ethic and we feel more connected to them than our older siblings.

    January 25, 2011 at 12:03 am |
  3. Larry

    I believe that the general public is being unfair to Amy Chua. I am happy to see that this book is stirring many conversations. I am sad that many of those that have made negative comments know very little about the Chinese in America, I would recommend that they read Iris Chang's book "The Chinese in American." This book would give a good foundation of the history of the Chinese coming to America and seeking a new life for their family. It lays the foundation of the mindset of the Chinese and other Asian groups. The book would help people understand why it is important for Chinese mothers to take charge of their children education and prepare them for success. The public would be making a huge mistake to judge the raising of children by Chinese parents as extreme using each of their own culture or current mindset to judge. I would hope that Alina Cho would lead a program similar to Black in America by Soledad O'Brien to focus on the Chinese America. How many Americans are aware of of the Chinese exclusion Act of 1882, and the resulted violence and deaths? There are many more things that Americans do not know about the Chinese experience.

    January 24, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  4. julie

    At which you probably will not print. My younger brother used to ride middle of the road his bicycle dodging freight trucks. His last words to me, that he could not take it anymore Age 14 he died in "accident".
    Decades later, I told my mom she killed him.
    Tigers are a species that sometimes eat their young.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  5. julie

    Well, I really do not think that this does a whole lot for a child's ego.
    My own mommy dearest, would throw my report card aside, and, say, it was not like my older brother. Took me years of therapy to get over. My therapist told me my mother was toxic and to stay away from her because I would never get her approval.
    Brother became most hated man, and hated women, turned alcholic. He could do no wrong.
    I raised my own children by applause. A great tape i listened to was a father Juniper, He stated life was a stage, And the best parents in the world were in the balcony, all you could hear was applause. No advice, no criticism A child that lives with critism learns to condemn. My children became happy adults, responsible, successful, and, they reached the stars, I still applaud..

    January 24, 2011 at 5:16 pm |