Saturday, May 18, 2013

Tiger Mothers: Still Superior

Recently, there was an interesting study that revisited the efficacy of Tiger Parenting. Su Yeong Kim, associate professor at University of Texas, sought to quantify and measure whether Tiger Parenting was indeed effective. This is how Kim defined Tiger Parenting:
For Kim’s study, parents and children answered questions during the children’s adolescence about their parenting styles. The vast majority of parents were foreign-born in Hong Kong or southern China, with relatively low educational attainment and a median income of between $30,001 and $45,000 in each of the study’s three phases, spaced out equally over eight years. Three-quarters of their kids were American-born. The study controlled for socioeconomic status and other potentially confounding factors. 
. . . 
Adolescents and parents rated the parents on several qualities, for example, “act loving, affectionate, and caring,” “listen carefully,” and “act supportive and understanding.” Warmth, reasoning, monitoring, and democratic parenting were considered positive attributes, while hostility, psychological control, shaming, and punitive measures were considered negative. These characterizations would be combined through a statistical method known as latent profile analysis to determine Kim’s four parenting profiles: Those scoring highest on the positive dimensions were labeled “supportive;” those scoring low on both dimensions were deemed “easygoing;” “harsh” parents were high on negative attributes and low on positive ones, and “tiger” parents scored high on both positive and negative dimensions.
Poor Little Tiger Cub [Slate] (emphasis added)

The result? "[T]iger moms produced kids who felt more alienated from their parents and experienced higher instances of depressive symptoms. They also had lower GPAs, despite feeling more academic pressure."

As the Korean was reading the article, he could practically hear the cheers and see the tears of joy of the many, many haters of the Tiger Parenting idea. When the Korean wrote the post Tiger Mothers are Superior, the reaction was swift and angry as hell, especially from Asian American. Many significant Asian American bloggers and writers spilled much digital ink claiming that Tiger Parenting was in fact inferior, and and was responsible for all the bad things that happened in their lives. Wesley Yang found notoriety through his New Yorker article, talking about how he heroically defied the yoke of Asian culture upon himself and told younger Asian Americans to do the same. Kim Wong Keltner, in her book Tiger Babies Strike Back, kvetched about how she grew up having "no idea how to connect with other people." So, what does the Korean think about this development? Is he ready to change his mind about the benefits of Tiger Parenting?

Hardly. Tiger Mothers are still superior. And here is why.

(More after the jump.)

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.



Why is Tiger Parenting superior? To repeat the previous post, Tiger Parenting is superior because it creates superior results. Although Tiger Parenting may be found in any ethnicity, Asian Americans may serve as a natural experiment of sorts because they are a relatively homogeneous group in which Tiger Parenting is the norm. While not every Asian Americans may be successful, Asian Americans, as a group, are spectacularly successful despite facing long odds as racial minority and immigrants. This success is hardly limited to earning a lot of money and holding down a white collar professional job. Successful Asian American artists, athletes, business leaders, thought leaders, etc. are numerous, and their number is disproportionately large compared to the number of Asian Americans in the United States.

None of this changed between Amy Chua's book in 2011 and Su Yeong Kim's study in 2013. Tiger Parenting is still dominant among Asian Americans, and Asian Americans continue to succeed. This leads to a simple conclusion: what changed was the angle of view, not the thing itself. Indeed, Forbes posed this very question to Kim: "why do Asian-American kids so dominate at Stuyvesant, the public school that has the highest bar to admission in the city, while Asian-American students make up only around 14% of the city’s total public school population?" Kim was forthcoming with the answer: "I don’t have an answer for you. That will have to be the subject of my next study."

This is an important point. Based on experience, it is evident that Asian Americans employ a particular parenting strategy. (To be sure, similar strategy may appear frequently in other ethnicity as well, but not as uniformly as Asian Americans.) It is also evident that Asian Americans enjoy a great deal of success in the United States. So why does Kim's study fail to capture this very real success?

Part of the explanation may be about the sample. As Jeff Yang explains in the Wall Street Journal:
Class and education clearly play a role in the effectiveness of “Tiger”-style parenting — at least as far as academic achievement. My parents were strict, and had high expectations for my achievement, but they also did much more than just encourage and enforce: They spent hours working with me, answering questions, teaching workarounds, patiently (and sometimes impatiently) putting as much effort into my education as I did. Would that be true of parents who don’t speak English, or didn’t graduate from high school, or who work 80-hour weeks at a restaurant and come home exhausted? You could make a case that for parents whose backgrounds and cultural context don’t allow them to roll up their sleeves and help, being Supportive could certainly produce better results than being Harsh or Tiger.
Tiger Mom Amy Chua Responds to Tiger Baby [Wall Street Journal]

But I think this is only a part of the explanation. My sense about Kim' study is that this is fundamentally a problem of definition. Kim's definition of Tiger Parenting is in the emphasized portion above: a parenting strategy that is both significantly warm and significantly harsh at the same time. This definition is not off-base; Tiger Parenting is in fact characterized by the parents' willingness to be strict and demanding. The Asian American experience confirms this, and so does Amy Chua's book.

Yet this definition is incomplete. Tiger Parenting is much more than mere mechanics and strategies. An essential part of Tiger Parenting is the underlying assumption about the child's potential, and how to maximize it. This assumption is different from other styles of parenting.

What is the essence of Tiger Parenting? None other than First Lady Michelle Obama captured it succinctly, as she was discussing the way she was raising Sasha and Malia Obama. Michelle Obama made her daughters take up two sports: one of their choosing, and the other chosen by their mother. Why? "I want them to understand what it feels like to do something you don’t like and to improve."

That quote is the essence of Tiger Parenting. The goal of Tiger Parenting is teach the children how to overcome adversity. This is an absolutely essential skill for life, because even in the best possible circumstances, life is full of adversity. Take it from a guy who is married to a woman with her dream job: not even your dream job is dream-like at every moment. And of course, getting to the point where you achieve your dreams require a long, seemingly interminable, stretch of hard work and sacrifice. Without such hard work and sacrifice, nothing gets done. There is no situation in life in which sloth is awarded over activity.

The goal of Tiger Parenting entails an underlying assumption: the child does have the innate ability to overcome those adversities. With proper level of goal-setting, and with proper level of back-pushing, the Tiger Cub will learn to overcome the difficulties that she will undoubtedly face in her life. Indeed, this is what causes the tough methodology of Tiger Parenting. How will Tiger Parents make the Tiger Cubs keep doing what they do not like? Encouragement and cajoling alone will never work. The parents will have to become tough, at times verging on harsh. And the parents may become quite tough, because the child will be able to overcome the challenge and become even stronger.

We discussed much of this in the context of Asian Americans, but this basic lesson actually is not lost upon other Americans as well. If Michelle Obama was not enough, how about Coach Leta Andrews? Andrews, the coach for girls' basketball in Granbury High School in Texas, is the winningest high school basketball coach ever. Here is how Andrews and her former player (who was a four-time Olympian) described Andrews's coaching philosophy:

Former players stay in touch. In 1996, Andrews traveled to Atlanta to cheer on Amy Acuff, who had played for her championship team in Corpus Christi and was now competing in the Olympic high jump. Three years ago, shortly after having stents implanted in a blocked artery, Andrews drove eight hours to attend the funeral of Cerny’s mother.

Acuff, a four-time Olympian, said: “I think people often are afraid to discipline kids; they feel it is too harsh or that the kid won’t love you. But I think the root of respect and love is a person expecting and demanding that you be as good as you can be every single moment.”

Andrews longs for more diversity on her team and more gym rats, players who want to win as badly as she does. “Don’t run around like a chicken with your head cut off,” she scolded her offense Monday. But she is not ready to retire. The only win that is important, she said, is the next one.

“I’m not ready to turn this over to these younger coaches,” Andrews told her husband recently. “They just don’t demand enough.”
Texas Coach Demands Best, Has Record to Prove It [New York Times] (emphasis added)

Demand enough, push hard, and the children will deliver results. This is but another incarnation of Tiger Parenting. 

It is very important to keep in mind the priorities of concepts involved. Tiger Parents are not tough because they are sadistic monsters. Learning to overcome adversity is the goal; toughness is just a mechanics of getting there. Virtually all the errors surrounding Tiger Parenting are some version of confusing the mechanics of Tiger Parenting with its goal. This is the central error of Kim' study:  the study measures the parents' actions, but not the motivation underlying the actions. This is also a common error for those who stridently decried Amy Chua's book when it came out: they were so distracted by the "no sleepovers" rule (which is just mechanics) that they completely lost sight of why such a rule is necessary. 

Confusing the priority of these concepts also lead to failed Tiger Parenting--which, like all parenting failures, may come with devastating results. I have seen many cases of Asian parents, who never quite grasped the priority of these concepts, simply punished their children for bad grades without stopping to think about what the punishments are supposed to achieve. This is not Tiger Parenting; this is nothing more than the hollow simulacrum of Tiger Parenting that opponents mistake true Tiger Parenting to be.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

74 comments:

  1. So all that matters is success? What about the happiness of ones children?

    Success does not always equal happiness. Tiger children are very successful yes, but does it matter if they are joyless adults deprived of a fulfilling childhood?

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    1. I dunno. Let me ask my drugged-out-of-his-mind, on-the-verge-of-homelessness-and-STILL-can't-quit-drinking, part-time-minimum-wage-working loser acquaintances if their unrestricted childhood makes up for the shit-life they're leading now.

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    2. The two of you are just going from one extremety to another.

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    3. If you want your children to be happy for all eternity, you can try strapping them to a machine that drips morphine into their bloodstream for their whole life. Then again, maybe "happiness" is not what matters that much.

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    4. This is kind of disappointing. I wouldn't have thought you were so materialistic. As a teacher in Korea I know so many kids who never see their dads or moms because they work such long hours. This is considered "success" but I find it to be greediness or just misplaced values. What's the point of that if you can never focus on things that really matter. I'm all for over coming adversity and had strict parents as a kid but I was also raised to not just strive for the best paying or highest status job I could find because those things aren't the most valuable.

      Your down playing of happiness also seems misplaced. Happiness doesn't have to rely on bright circumstances, as you suggest, but on living a life you find fulfilling or making the most of where you are. What's the point of being a doctor or a lawyer or going to the best schools if all you do is work or study? Building relationships is one of the most important things in life.

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    5. @TheKorean

      Clearly you are not a parent, but this is besides the point of my argument. I would very much enjoy to know what genre your platform is based upon. ie It is obviously not based upon a biological point of view as happy children live longer, and by consequence, tend to reproduce more often (See citation below), it is also clearly not from a purely moral/ethical standpoint as you are fine if a child is miserable as long as they are successful.

      As you are a translator, please correct me if I am fully wrong on this working from memory here, you must deal with many court cases and language and communication is a huge role in you work. So let me pose this question you. As Dr. Sarah D. Pressman from the University of Irvine has stated health and happiness correlate strongly. This is especially prominent in the mental health of people. By consequence happier people create better connections with other people in effect helping create a better more sustainable society. So do you truly believe, assuming these doctors are onto something, that just by being successful a child is contributing more to society or the human species for that matter?

      Anyways this is one of the first time I have commented on one of your posts, as for the most parts your thoughts always give me something to think about. I also almost always agree with you full-heartedly. From political standpoints to Unit 731 to communication between humans your conscious is quite interesting to follow but I feel in this post you are missing explaining your logic as you usually do quite excellently.

      As well, your jerkish answer to the comment above seems to miss the point completely. Although I know you will think I am missing your point here I will get to that in a second. "Dripping morphine" for ones entire life will not cause true happiness as it will also make oneself very sick so the fact that you would even use that to rebuke his comment I find quite appalling. As well to what I believe your point was in that senseless comment, I would really like to know why you think "success" matters so much above ones self-being, as I have said above.

      I would truly like to know. Do you really put success above health, happiness, whole and well society, and humanity as a whole?

      Jordyn

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    6. What's the point of being a doctor or a lawyer or going to the best schools if all you do is work or study? Building relationships is one of the most important things in life.

      Good luck building relationships when you are dirt poor. Good life requires a strong material base. One need not be the wealthiest person possible, but does need to be in a position where one need not worry about debilitating poverty at every turn.

      Do you really put success above health, happiness, whole and well society, and humanity as a whole?

      Why is it so hard for you folks to understand that success leads to true happiness? The success here, btw, is hardly limited to being a doctor or lawyer or something. Success is achieving something you want to achieve. And that achievement will not come without diligence.

      Somehow, that last point is completely missed in this line of criticism, as if people believe that happiness stands opposite from success. There is a kind of happiness that comes without hard work, and that happiness comes through drugs. So again, if you want your child to be happy without hard work, drug is the way to go. The fact that few people think this would be a viable option says quite a bit.

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    7. Obviously you missed the point completely. Did you just skip straight to the end instead of reading and trying to learn something new? When did I state in that paragraph that happiness stands opposite from success? I never said such a thing. I am simply stating that there are other ways to be happy other than success and most definitely then through drugs. Give up on that last argument it is not fooling anyone here.

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    8. Also who says that people may not want to achieve let's say... being an amazing cook. Which means moving to Paris and working there without going to college? The "tiger mothers" you speak about would not allow such a thing to occur... because god forbid a child does not finish their study's and does what they love!

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    9. "The "tiger mothers" you speak about would not allow such a thing to occur... because god forbid a child does not finish their study's and does what they love!"

      If the main goal of tiger parenting is to prepare kids to overcome adversity in their own lives then it does not necessarily have to be the Tiger Mother that lets the child just do what they want (or love) but the cub can fight for it if they really believe in their own abilities. The adversity they have to overcome can come from their own parents. I have tiger parents (really just a tiger dad and a crazy mom - there's a distinction) and 3 sisters. My youngest sister got a lot of flack for pursuing acting when my parents wanted her to pursue something more stable. She worked, went to school, still pursued acting gigs (without parental support) and got a pretty big commercial last year that's still paying out. She proved to our parents that she can be practical and pursue what she wants. Ultimately, I think that's what our parents wanted.

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    10. Did you just skip straight to the end instead of reading and trying to learn something new?

      I always read the whole. But with your comment, there was nothing new to learn.

      When did I state in that paragraph that happiness stands opposite from success? I never said such a thing.

      I never said you said such a thing. Why are you so upset?

      Also who says that people may not want to achieve let's say... being an amazing cook. Which means moving to Paris and working there without going to college? The "tiger mothers" you speak about would not allow such a thing to occur... because god forbid a child does not finish their study's and does what they love!

      Being an amazing cook requires going to a culinary school, not aimlessly dropping out in search for some bullshit Bohemian dream. And I know plenty of Tiger Moms who saw to it that their children went through the best culinary school possible.

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    11. Being an amazing cook does NOT require going to culinary school. There are plenty of people who learned at home through self-education and experimentation as well as learning on the job, who have become 'amazing' cooks in certain circles. Being RECOGNIZED as an amazing cook requires certification from a culinary school or prime time on TV. But aside from certification, I bet you a lot of them are crap cooks. And I bet you a lot of people who have a real passion for cooking and didn't go to some shitty school are kitchen wizards. Same goes for all professions. We had people who were 'amazing' lawyers and doctors before college or the phd was deemed mandatory to be recognized as a lawyer or doctor. Please reassess what it means to be happy. Are you saying that euphoria is happiness, and that's why you equated eternal happiness as having a dripline of morphine stuck to your arm? Don't just take some schmuck's definition of happiness on a survey. Who knows what happiness means to the people who were asked whether they were happy. Probably a lot of them weren't. Who the fuck knows? Please define success. It means different things for different people. This is supposed to be a nation of individuals - not a nation of wannabe clones.

      And why do you believe that devoting your life to school is the path to success? Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson had very minimal schooling and look what they've achieved in the past. Look at Richard Branson - high school dropout. Ikea billionaire - dropout. Bill Gates - dropout. Presidents who were C students. Don't kid yourself and think that these are exceptions to the rule. None of these people will tell you that they attribute their success to their schooling. School and education are two different things. Schooling is not about education, I'm sad to say. It's all about controlling your mind - and I mean that in a bad way. Just look at yourself, Korean. You can't seem to escape your own indoctrination into believing that the government and vaccines are actually good for you.

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    12. You can't seem to escape your own indoctrination into believing that the government and vaccines are actually good for you.

      How do you feel about fluoride in water and tin foil caps?

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  2. Success does not always equal happiness.
    >this also applies to non-Tiger cubs

    does it matter if they are joyless adults deprived of a fulfilling childhood?
    >generalizations, generalizations
    how can you be so sure the majority of Tiger cubs had a joyless childhood? because learning how to throw a tantrums in order to be given what you want makes for so much more happy & meaningful childhood? (see, there goes another generalization. If you want to have a real discussion, it's useless to put everyone in the same basket, cuz you're just calling onto others to do exactly the same thing).

    I think one of the points that are being made here is that there are (1) a lot of people including Asian who misinterpret the concept of Tiger parenting, and (2) another lot of Asians who do not have the time and financial stability to afford to actually spend the time required with their children to be real Tiger parents

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  3. "I want them to understand what it feels like to do something you don’t like and to improve."
    I have to say, I never got this from my Tiger Mom. Even if I improved at something, I got criticism because it wasn't fast enough or good enough. In childhood, I basically got to point where I didn't do difficult things that were not required- unless I could hide it from my mom- because it would just cause me more grief from her to try something and fail than to never have tried. I do appreciate her holding me to high standards and forcing me to work at my highest potential, which gave me an excellent start in life. One of the greatest benefits of her hard work, ironically, was that it allowed me to leave for a college across the country at age 16, where I started to undo the fear and the learned helplessness that I had acquired when I was younger.

    "I have seen many cases of Asian parents, who never quite grasped the priority of these concepts, simply punished their children for bad grades without stopping to think about what the punishments are supposed to achieve." Well, they're supposed to achieve better grades. What would the proper Tiger Parent response be?

    "Virtually all the errors surrounding Tiger Parenting are some version of confusing the mechanics of Tiger Parenting with its goal." My impression is that with Tiger Parenting, this is very easy. Parenting is difficult and exhausting, and when people are mentally exhausted, they fall back on their technique toolkit, which in the case of Tiger Parenting involves criticism, shaming, and physical punishment. The perfect Tiger Parent would use these techniques when most appropriate, to get the kid over a hurdle the kid has the ability to clear, and use other techniques when, for example, the kid is having problems the kid really isn't able to solve. The problem is that when you are having conflicts with your children because they are not succeeding, you are not going to be clear-headed and inventive; you are going to be exasperated. What do you want your default parenting techniques to be when you're tired and mad? When my mom was exhausted and angry, usually after yelling at me for legitimate reasons, she sometimes would yell at me and even lightly punch my jaw because I have an underbite. That sort of interaction undermined her credibility and made the both of us upset for no reason.

    If the Tiger parenting techniques are easy to misuse, it is ethical to promote such techniques widely? There are many older medicines, for examples, that work well, but the difference between an effective dose and a dangerous dose is very small. That's why these medications have, in many cases, been superseded by medications that work maybe a little less well but are much safer. On the whole, I think Tiger parenting is excellent when done well. But there needs to be a lot of education, community pressure, and oversight to make sure it is not poorly done.

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  4. I agree with most of what TK wrote. The best part of Chua's article was when she told her husband that he just didn't believe in their daughter. I think most people equate Tiger parenting with just criticisms and demands without giving any credit to the love and support that Tiger Moms give to their children. When you know your parents love you, their criticisms and demands won't sound so harsh. If they do sound harsh, then that is a reflection of something being remiss in the relationship - lack of attention, lack or affection?

    But what I wonder about is whether it can be limiting in some ways. For example, most Korean-American parents want their children to become doctors or lawyers or a Juilliard graduated pianist/violinist (and sometimes, professors or engineers.) In many cases, if you manage to do well in school, being a film director or a fashion designer aren't options unless you're willing to risk incurring their wrath or disappointing them. Would the next generation be different? Interestingly, the Jews have led the same pattern. Many Jewish immigrants in the 1920s worked at garment factories. A big majority of their children became doctors and lawyers. But their kids ended up having a variety of professions, many who have distinguished themselves in the field. I wonder if we will see this happening with our future generation. I hope so.

    What I am curious about is how the Jews have become so successful even though they don't subscribe to Tiger parenting at all (at least not in the way Chua describes). I've read several books/articles in this regard and find them to be fascinating - according to these books/articles, generally speaking, they give their children confidence by giving them autonomy and praising them and even indulging them, don't believe in corporal punishment or shaming them; instead, they stimulate their children's intellect with constant questioning, promote verbal confidence through debate and polemics, and encourage networking opportunities. It doesn't seem like Jews (in general) subscribe to the notion of sticking it out just to teach overcoming adversity. And yet, they've manage to become so successful that it makes Asian-American successes look so ordinary.

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  5. Whatever techniques of one's parenting are, the key is to help the child discover what he/she likes doing and is able to do best. Once both the kid and the parent find that out, encourage them to strenghten these skills and help them towards the goal the kid has chosen. That's not an easy task, especially in this society that wants to make slaves for the system to keep intact, but it is neccessary.

    Also, I think it is very important for the child to acquire social skills. Because the best job positions are obtained by human relationship. I'm not promoting corruption here, but it is a fact that someone who knows somebody will propose them to the boss and etc. And once they do get to work, they will have to work in teams.

    So, be a tiger, or be tender, but keep these things in mind. The grade is just a number on a piece of paper. It takes social skills and self-confidence to really succeed in life.

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  6. And what I've forgotten to say is that there is no need forcing your kid to do what they don't want in order to learn dealing with difficulties and obstacles. Because they're facing them anywyay.

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  7. Question for TK: how are children actually raised in Korea and do you approve of it?

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    1. That's a huge question that deserves it's own post. A good question, however.

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    2. I would be very interested in reading about it. My friends' kids tell me that they "have no dream" because they come home from hagwon at 11 pm every day and study until 1 am. It is really sad.

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    3. I'd be interested too.

      Others might also be interested in the documentary 'Please Vote For Me'. It's China, not Korea, and you don't see hagwons, but there are broad similarities, and it's a great film:

      http://vimeo.com/373933

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  8. All this tiger parenting stuff is bullshit, not because it doesn't work, but because so what if it does? So what if many Asian American kids end up going to Stuy or becoming successful academically and/or financially? Is that really what we should be striving for? Should our goal really just be to get another step ahead in our highly competitive meritocratic society?

    I'm all for discipline and having a strong work ethic, but what about learning to live for a purpose other than personal comfort and success? The issue here isn't what style of parenting is better, but instead, what is the purpose of parenting as a whole in our modern society? According to the current debate, parenting is all about how to make your children successful both financially and socially so that they can be personally happy. That's good and all, but what about giving your children a dream and purpose greater than fulfilling their egocentric and personal ambitions.

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    1. Good luck achieving all those dreams and purpose without the discipline to follow through.

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  9. Good article, but do you we really need "Tiger Parenting" to teach our kids discipline and learning to overcome adversity?

    I think it's sad that that is how far society is fallen if "Tiger parenting" is synonymous with the values of a strong work ethic, discipline, and learning to overcome obstacles.

    Recently, Michael Bloomberg gave a speech espousing the values of a vocational education. Of course everybody got mad at Bloomberg and accused him of being vicious and trying to ruin young people's dreams and goals in life. but Bloomberg's message is pretty poignant: not everybody is cut out to be a Harvard grad.

    http://townhall.com/tipsheet/heatherginsberg/2013/05/19/bloomberg-skip-college-and-become-plumbers-n1600608

    I think Asians and their Tiger Parents should read this. My only message to Asian Americans is this: contrary to the media and the model minority stereotype, not all Asian Americans are going to go to Harvard University and become a doctor, corporate lawyer, or investment banker. I actually think that if every Asian American wants to go to an Ivy League university and become a doctor, this would ultimately hinder society down the road.

    Success is defined not by one clear destination. I think Tiger Parenting is "good" if it teaches Asian American kids the right values, but again, i think Asian American culture needs to lay off the whole "you go to Harvard or you be homeless" or "go to Yale, or you fail" mentality. i think putting unreasonable pressure on Asian Americans to define their worth by an Ivy League education or a prestigious white collar job title WILL damage Asian Americans, both from an individual and a societal standpoint. Is it not a coincidence that Asians and Asian Americans suffer from higher levels of depression and suicidal attempts than average? I think that Asian Americans should learn that there's "no shame" in going to a lesser known college, or heck, going to vocational school. Plenty of people didn't go to college at all and are a great success.

    Flame me all you want, call me a bitter loser for not living up to the model minority, but I'm just tellin' it like it is. :)

    With that said, your blog post is pretty good, but again, I think the focus needs to be on raising kids right and teaching them the right values instead of making Asian American kids into prestige whores who care only about fancy name school degrees and making lots of money on Wall Street. The American dream is NOT what one thinks it is.

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    1. Maybe the "secret sauce" shared by so-called Tiger Moms, the more lenient style ascribed to Jewish parents in another post and my own day-old Wonder Bread upbringing is to have a complete faith that your child is capable of doing anything. It is senseless and cruel in a competitive society like ours to claim that some kids are automatically cut out for Harvard while others are cut out for "voc-ed", and Mayor Bloomberg in saying such things is cutting off his city's children at the knees. It would be better if he extended the notorious New York City bragadoccio to his city's children, claiming that New York City's children can be the best in the world in whatever they endeavor. Surely New Yorkers can talk up their kids with half the emphasis and twice the reason that they talk up their pizza.

      Now, it's also senseless and cruel to state that voc-ed is just for the academically mediocre -- there are academically bright young people who will do better for themselves and others if they take up a trade and work with their hands. These days, the most lucrative trades demand that workers involve their brains as well as their hands.

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  10. I reconciled Su Yeong Kim's findings and actual results that I've seen from tiger-parenting on Su Yeong Kim's self-hating of his own kind.

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    1. It's "her", and I think that's an overstatement.

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  11. I have a problem with the logic in your concluding paragraph, in which you say, essentially, "If Tiger Parenting doesn't work, then the parent isn't using REAL Tiger Parenting, because Tiger Parenting always works."

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    1. That logic will hold true until Asian Americans begin failing in droves. Until then, the only possible conclusion is that the prevalent parenting technique among Asian Americans (=Tiger Parenting) must be effective.

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  12. My mother raised my brothers and me using a logic that isn't way too different from tiger parents on some aspects...

    We were expected the best grades possible (and we constantly heard "you don't need to be the best, but you MUST be one of the best"), being 8.0 the average on a school we needed 6.0 (and 9.0~10 the acceptable), she was fully aware of our academic life, even when we believed we were misleading her and causing problems on school wasn't something tolerable, so, if we did something wrong, we would be punished for it, and this was constantly remembered. We weren't forced into sports or art (being swimming the expection, as she wanted to be sure none of her sons would drown to death), but we should stick to what we chose on our own and put the effort to be good on it. Everytime we complained she was being to harsh, or that most parents were Ok with not as good results, the answer most of the time was "If you were dumb I wouldn't ask for such results, but I know you can archieve them". Also, not liking a task never was a valid reason to avoid it... The piano lessons part of Chua's book reminded me of the time I was picked to be Jesus on the Last Supper play for my church... I didn't apply for the role (or for the play), but quitting it wasn't an option, nor was doing it o poorly, so, I was forced to take my lines and know the whole thing by heart, and most important, do it WELL.

    Once me and my brothers were getting older she would start letting us solve our things on our own way as far as we really solved them and faced the consequences., also, once the stronger and lower points of each became more clear over the years, it was more tolerable to not doing as well on everything, but this never meant failing would be acceptable... And it never was. Something being done by her sons never was a good enough reason for it being good, being her son was never a good enough reason for being right on her eyes, and ephemeral happiness was never a good enough reason for pleasing my brothers or me.

    After her 3 sons graduated on some of the best universities of the country, all of them being considered way above avarage professionals considering job experience and age. We also learned we should stick to what is best for us, not to what other people believe is nicer, and it was impossible to us not becoming as assertive as her once we got older. I can't remember of any friend of mine who got the "you are my special cotton candy made of love and unicorns" threatment the whole life that isn't struggling at several things now on the market... Once you learned at home that you aren't perfect, that you will be criticized, that sometimes what you think it's your best isn't really good enough (nor your best) and that things arent always nice, and fluffy and cute, that you will need to do things you hate, that you will face pressure, that just the fact that you are "you" is not enough for everything you do works, this doesn't come as a shock once you enter the adult world.

    Did I had problems with her? Of course, who never had problems with parents? And it was even harder to me because I don't work the way she wanted most of the time. And she will ask me to become a lawyer until we die (or I become one :P), but I never believed she didn't love me, or that she was doing that out of malice, it was always very clear she wanted her sons to be able to face whatever they needed to... It's way to easy and irresponsable to say "follow your dreams" without preparing the person to actually overcome the difficults reaching this dream will have, and I'm glad things were the way they were even if I wasn't (is anyone?) happy all time.

    By the way, I'm not Asian... I'm Brazilian with an heritage so mixed I can just say I'm typical Brazilian... So, maybe mom is a Jaguar instead of Tiger Mom. :P And sorry about possible mistakes, english (obviously) isn't my first language, haha!

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  13. Everything is in the branding/labeling. So when you start using 'Tiger', an asian term, than people immediately start thinking in terms of asian, asian friends you had. And unfortunately this can tip some to fall into negative thinking more easily.

    IMO, every culture has parents who would do anything to give a better chance to their kids.

    There are Jaguar moms.

    There are Lion moms.

    There are (name of a ferocious predator) mom in every culture.


    Lastly, there are plenty of moms in US (caucasians) who are like the Tiger moms. They may not be doing it directly, but they work long hours to live in a good town/neighborhood, to send kids to good school.

    So this discussion of 'Tiger' mom is just largely a waste of time due to a misleading branding of the topic.

    ReplyDelete
  14. After reading thsi post I was watching this TEd talk by Geoffrey Canada, http://www.ted.com/talks/geoffrey_canada_our_failing_schools_enough_is_enough.html. Most of it is not relate to tiger parenting, but near the end he says we need to create an environment for these kids that does what any good parent does, "Badger the kids. What were your grades..." Now he is trying to be funny. It is interesting that he claims the kids in his school last year are 100% graduating, and 100% are accepted to college. And this year 100% graduating, and 97% are accepted to college.

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  15. Hmmh. There's one funny thing. I come from a culture where learning & parenting is, in someways, total opposite of "Tiger moms" or at least "Asia way". We're pretty relaxed, school days are short, rare few take extra classes, parents are usually rather lenient and so on. And despite this we are the only country competing with Eastern Asian countries in PISA results. This shouldn't be possible considering how big is the difference between the effort of our children compared to Eastern Asian children raised by tiger moms but there you have yet. Every year PISA has been conducted Finland looms in top among South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan. This seems to prove that there are other ways to succeed, at least academically, than being a product of a tiger mom.

    However, I wouldn't say this is a path to happiness... Finland is one of the top nations in suicide chart, too, so there you have it, again.

    Personally, I do agree with some commentators who put more value on "happiness" than "success". Successful person can be very unhappy but a happy person is, well, happy no matter whether he's successful or not. I'd rather be happy than successful if I'd had to make a choice. I'm not saying every one has to make this choice but even here there are many financially & academically successful people who have basically destroyed their family life in their constant drive to succeed and at the end are not even happy.

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    1. Funny how the average IQ of Finland is listed as 97. Stoopid IQ tests...

      Delete
  16. I believe the biggest problem here is believing that "happiness" means giving the children everything they want and pleasing them everytime parenting becomes hard. They will be pleased, and they won't bother you, but will they be able to overcome their problems when they learn as adults that life isn't made of free cookies? And will they be happy once they learn it on the hard way?

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  17. I always thought "success" meant achieving the ability to lead a happy life. And a happy life consists of your dreams and wishes comming true due to all the effort you had put in it.

    I'm just reminding you that words such as "happiness" and "success" are very ambiguous, because their meaning vary from each of the individual's perception.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Angela Lee Duckworth found that students with "grit" were the most successful: http://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_the_key_to_success_grit.html

    ReplyDelete
  19. According to Amy Chua herself, tiger parenting doesnt always work,
    “I ultimately chose to go the other way with Lulu,”

    http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2013/05/15/tiger-mom-amy-chua-responds-to-tiger-babies-book/

    So would you agree that tiger style parenting is appropriate only on certain types of children ?

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    1. Well that's the most logical conclusion. Because we've all got different characters, meaning kids are not all the same.

      Delete
    2. I would say that the mechanics of Tiger Parenting should be different for different children, but not the overall goal.

      Delete
  20. Any generalizations are bad. What makes them even worse is when 1. they are made by a person whose area of expertise is not even close to the subject of research 2. they are based on incomplete assumptions or, as I may label, "Google search".

    So what is wrong with generalizing about Tiger Mom's superiority? I could quote over 200 articles on parenting, but I don't have the time. So I will go for the root of the problem. Faulty logic.

    So...If Tiger Mothers are superior, and if we follow the same logic, it means:

    1. Tiger Parenting is superior because it creates superior results. Korean parents are so wonderful, their kids are like the smartest on earth. I wonder how many Nobel prizes they were awarded exactly? More than British people, right? And if they did not get as many Nobel prize winners, I am sure it is just the cultural bias.

    2. Tiger Parenting is superior because it creates superior results. Tiger parenting fosters creativity. Let me list all the famous Korean inventions: the heated floors, Hangul and kiln sauna. Or also the automobile, the bicycle, the airplane and the Internet. Or maybe I am mixing things up.

    3. Tiger Parenting is superior because it creates superior results. Tiger parenting fosters self-esteem. I wonder why suicide rates are so high in Korea, as well as the suicide rates for Asian Americans. After all, they are taught to overcome adversity. And if some of them cannot overcome the difficulties - that's just too bad.

    4. Tiger Parenting is superior because it creates superior results. Harvard, Yale and all the Ivy league colleges are full of Asian students. However, let's not forget for one second, that George Bush got his M.B.A. from Harvard. How does this reflect on Harvard? That they are honoring anybody who can't even spell, as long as they have money and pedigree.

    5. Tiger Parenting is superior because it creates superior results. Asian Americans are doing so well, in the next 100 years one of the American presidents is definitely going to be Asian. However, if not for Obama's "white" mom, who taught him how to adjust to "the mainstream" culture, he would not be able to become the first African American president.

    All the statements above follow the same faulty logic. I am only writing them to show how
    not to generalize. Because, let's face it, there are many flaws in tiger parenting. To each their own.

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    1. I wish IMG tags were allowed so I could express all of my sparkly GIF-y "THIIIIIIIIIS" feelings right now. A simple "IAWTC" and a link will have to do:

      http://delana.net/ljimages/GIFs/this.gif

      Delete
    2. Any generalizations are bad.

      Then no one should ever write any short article, in that case.

      Delete
    3. Originally it was "Any generalizations made by a person who.... blah blah blah" then I decided to change it to "All generalizations are bad" then to "Most generalizations are bad" then to "Some generalizations are bad" and in the process I forgot to change "any" to "all". Plus I cannot edit so it it was too late.

      Delete
    4. Then you should think a little harder before you write these things.

      Delete
    5. I don't need to think a little harder - I only write things when I get bored anyway.
      I just need a bigger text box so I can actually see what I write. I also need an opportunity to edit things out after I post them.

      And you should actually do your research before you post your opinions. If people posted things that were in their area of expertise after conducting a long-term research based on at least one hundred cross-referenced studies, the world would be a better place.

      If you by any chance are running out of topics and don't know what to write anymore, I have like 10,000,000 questions about Korean culture:

      1. Why did S. Korea score that low on the Gender Gap Index? They are below Cambodia, Burkina Faso, India, Suriname and United Arab Emirates. And please don't tell me it is because those women do not work - Japan is like 8 places above South Korea. I mean I know it is hard to be a woman in South Korea - but is the country trying to do something about it?

      2. Why the satisfaction of life index is so low for South Korea? It is lower than in Tajikistan, Vietnam, Iran and even Kazakhstan - please don't tell me that people in Iran are happier than Koreans. Oh, I forgot - Tiger mothers don't care about happiness. It is all about success. So what more do they need?

      3. Why Korean drama guys are so handsome? They really are. Like unbelievably handsome. Not all of them, but most. Is that something that their mothers eat while pregnant? What nutritional supplements do they take? I want to know all the brand names and whether they are available over the Internet.

      4. The American dream is to start from scratch and to earn enough money so they can buy a three-bedroom house with a garage, a swimming pool and to have a barbecue in their back yard. What's the Korean dream? Is there one?

      5. Is it true that having sex with a 14-year old girl is considered legal in Korea?

      6. Do all those drama actresses still have to sleep their way to get a role? Does society realize it is a problem? Are those netizens going to do something about it?

      7. I have heard all about Christian missionaries. What about Buddhist missionaries? What are they doing to spread the word? They are losing people to Christianity and do nothing about it? I know it is the Buddhist way, but just the thought that Korean Buddhism is taking a hit and the number of Christians is growing makes me really uncomfortable.

      8. What is the real reason why Koreans are getting taller? Is it because they drink milk or because they eat better?

      9. I am a little concerned that Korean dramas are getting... dirtier. Like right now there is a drama about a woman who cheats on her husband because he is gay with a guy who cheats on his wife and has a very small penis (actually, the actor who plays that guy has a big one, you can tell), but for Korean drama to even address those issues - what is going on? Yes, the drama is as funny as hell but still, that's not normal! That's not what Korean dramas are all about!

      10. Is domestic violence still rampant? How is the society addressing it?

      That's all for now. I have more if you need them.

      Delete
    6. I only write things when I get bored anyway.

      Same with me.

      And you should actually do your research before you post your opinions. If people posted things that were in their area of expertise after conducting a long-term research based on at least one hundred cross-referenced studies, the world would be a better place.

      Like the way you cited to a hundred studies when you were claiming that Korea's suicide rate was all about nutritional deficiencies caused by processed food?


      If you by any chance are running out of topics and don't know what to write anymore, I have like 10,000,000 questions about Korean culture:


      Thanks but no thanks. I am sitting on a queue that goes back six years.

      Delete
    7. But it is kind of same old, same old... you have already posted stuff on Tiger moms. It is kind of old news now. By the way, if you listen to Amy Chua's daughter graduation speech, you would not wish to be a Tiger mom. The girl is incredibly stupid and full of herself (no, I am not afraid of stating the truth even if it hurts).

      Actually I believe that there are two reasons behind Korea's suicide rate:

      1. nutritional deficiencies caused by changes in fiid intake brought on by industrialization and increased processed food consumption. (Thanks, chocoboy).

      If any Korean researcher is reading this right now - just take a stool sample of three different groups of Korean population - one group eating traditional foods, another one eating Western foods and a control group. By analyzing their stool samples you will be able to see the differences in intestinal flora, immunity and even neurological disorders. The fact that there are more and more Korean kids with autism and learning problems is related to altered gut flora and giving birth by cesarean section.

      If you want two hundred research articles - I can list them but they are not related to Korea, only to nutritional deficiencies. Pubmed, Scientific American and Science Daily have more than 200 already.

      2. The second factor behind Korea's suicide rate is the culture that dictates "it is my fault, and by killing myself I will erase my sins and restore my honor." Which is the wrong way of doing things. But it is still better than, "it is everybody else's fault and by purchasing a gun at a local gun show and going to the nearest mall/school/movie theater with a fully loaded semi-automatic weapon I will release my anger" mentality.

      Can you please please please answer some questions about women's issues to be addressed in six years?

      Thanks.

      Delete
    8. From AAK! Policies:

      "THE MOST IMPORTANT POLICY

      As the editor-in-chief of Ask a Korean!, the Korean will do whatever the hell he damn well pleases with this blog. The operation of every aspect of this blog will be completely up to the Korean's arbitrary and capricious whim. Telling the Korean what to do with this blog will be the swiftest course to getting banned from this blog."

      So, being that this is my blog, I will write whatever I feel like writing. If you don't like what I write, go read a different blog.

      Delete
    9. Thank you for such a gentle, sweet and kind reminder of your extremely well-articulated policy. I especially appreciate your final comment "If you don't like what I write, go read a different blog", I think it accentuates the subtle nuances in your poetic depiction of the perplexities of life.

      You are a living proof that guys from Kdrama is just a mirage in a stormy sea of grim reality. I wonder if Lee Min Ho has a blog?

      Delete
  21. It is tempting to call tiger parenting "successful" in terms of factual academic outcome. But it comes at a high cost if you look at suicide rates of Korean students. This alone would make me hesitant in calling tiger parenting "superior". You cannot diminish this fact by simply splitting bad parenting from "tiger parenting as it was actually meant to be".
    My problem with tiger parenting is that it simplifies "success" into a recipe. It prepares students for a meritocratic illusion that fails in places where everyone has top grades. At some point, grades become less and less important to succeed in favor of other skills that cannot be measured in grades.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. But it comes at a high cost if you look at suicide rates of Korean students.

      Whereas, school shootings, teen pregnancies, metal detectors at schools and illiteracy at 5th grade are fine and acceptable?

      My problem with tiger parenting is that it simplifies "success" into a recipe.

      It is the Tiger Parenting's critics who make that simplification. Tiger Parenting demands excellence, not just good grades.

      Delete
    2. Uh yeah, and guess who one of the school shooters was? A South Korean guy named Seung hui Cho.

      Delete
    3. Many East Asians I know consider the high suicide rates of Asian students to be an "acceptable" price for overall academic success of East Asians. After all, by their logic, it's just Darwinism at work -- suicides help weed out the weak.

      Delete
    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    5. In your words, criticizing tiger parenting equals: endorsing the neglect of children? This black and white view only goes to show that this discussion has entered highly ideological terrain, not surprisingly.
      "It is the Tiger Parenting's critics who make that simplification. Tiger Parenting demands excellence, not just good grades."
      Well, you just did the same thing. You are peddling a principle to success that you are trying to authenticate with academic statistics.

      Demanding overall excellence is easy and there' s nothing wrong with it. However, personality and social skills should be quite hard to demand, as much as good humor is.
      All in all, you are trying to make up your own idealized definition of Tiger parenting like you actually wish it was, not what it is or has been for many. 1st generation Korean parenting has never been as modern as you are trying to make it look now. With the kind of modern parenting you are describing, I think no no one really objects.
      Alas, some common features of Tiger parenting that reiterate in many personal stories:

      1. Study, study, study is the mantra of your life.
      2. The "value" of a child is defined by the performance it achieves.
      3. Using methods of shaming and abuse.
      4. Any talent or activity that cannot be determined in a quality or grading system is useless and a waste of time as it takes up study time.
      Hence, political, social or environmental interest is a waste of time.

      Tiger parenting promotes conformity. It teaches children that hardship and suffering is a normal thing to feel which builds up a strong tolerance for larger encompassing problems. Well it's the course of life that everything is hard, so why even question to change the conditions? It is just the way it is. Also: Well, there is discrimination, but it's normal to feel adversities, so why bother. While the Asian minority is successful, it is surprisingly invisible. There is generally no interest in political power in order to shape society, such as in the jewish community from the early beginning.

      Delete
    6. Well, you just did the same thing. You are peddling a principle to success that you are trying to authenticate with academic statistics.

      Academic statistics is just one example in my post. I also used athletic success (i.e. Coach Andrews, Michelle Obama's philosophy) as well. It is the critics of Tiger Parenting who mistakenly claim that Tiger Parenting is only about academics.

      Alas, some common features of Tiger parenting that reiterate in many personal stories:

      Here is a question: do you even have a workable definition of Tiger Parenting? Is your criticism really directed toward Asian Americans, rather than Tiger Parenting?

      You claim that I am "making up an idealized definition." Not so--I am trying to come up with some definition that correlates with reality. In contrast, I can't even figure out what your definition of Tiger Parenting is.

      Delete
  22. Exactly how many pregnant illiterate 5th graders who participated in school shootings after going through a metal detector do you know? If you happen to come across one, please make sure to tell her story.

    There are many different parenting styles that demand excellence. Tiger Parenting is one of them, and it is not the best one. Please provide some examples of famous people that we should look up to who were brought up by Tiger Mothers. Amy Chua's daugther is a bad example. A daughter of a Harvard professor, half Jewish, who went to an ivy league college? What a surprise! If she would grew up in Harlem being a daughter of a single mom who had to work two jobs just to make the ends meet while applying for food stamps - that would be something. And if getting into ivy league school is your definition of success, then I guess we have different values.

    The real issues are: poverty, lack of gun control laws and inadequate nutrition.
    As for teen pregnancies, they are steadily declining.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. There are many different parenting styles that demand excellence. Tiger Parenting is one of them, and it is not the best one.

      Would love to hear other parenting styles that demand excellence, and how they differ from Tiger Parenting.

      Delete
    2. Read this before you become a father (my two personal favorites are Attachment Parenting and Positive parenting:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parenting_styles#Other_parenting_styles

      Delete
  23. Tiger Parenting relies on one fundamental assumption - that happiness is not the most important goal in life. This is a fundamental assumption I disagree with. Nothing takes more priority over happiness in my life and the lives of those I care about. The original article by the Korean mentioned morphine. This is a tremendous strawman. Why don't I spend my life drugged up on morphine? There are three reasons. The first is because that's not my ideal state of happiness - each person is different. Not everyone in the world is at their ideal state of happiness on morphine. Second, because it's selfish - for me, it's a matter of maximising both my own happiness and the happiness of my family and friends, which I wouldn't be able to do if drugged up on morphine. Third, because I do not have the resources to do so.

    And for the person who does want to be drugged up on morphine for the rest of his life and has the resources for it - more power to him. If he has people who care about him, he might be selfish to do so, but I'm not one to deny another person from making themselves as happy as possible.

    In the original article, you make a big deal out of how happiness is externally set. It's not. You said a bunch of things about yourself - what makes you happy. You then said anyone who doesn't experience what makes you happy is objectively suffering from a delusion. Yeah... no. I'm pretty happy with my life, but thanks for trying to tell me that I'm living a delusion because I don't value the same things you do. I would have killed myself by now if I were subject to Tiger Parenting, because it's not even remotely conducive to the things that make me happy in life. It is up to each person to figure out what they want from life, and for many it is a happiness that Tiger Parenting doesn't support.

    I can absolutely agree that Tiger Parenting is superior for advancing human society, but I personally value individual happiness over the advancement of society and thus I can not support Tiger Parenting.

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    1. I don't know where you sourced that fundamental assumption, but ultimately, the goal of tiger parenting (and, really, any kind of parenting that involves caring) is happiness and recognizing that non drug-induced happiness takes work and effort.

      Delete
    2. Tiger Parenting relies on one fundamental assumption - that happiness is not the most important goal in life.

      Wrong. Tiger Parenting's fundamental assumption as to happiness is that happiness is not the same as instant gratification. Tiger Parenting teaches children to hold off on the easy kind of "happiness" for the longer-lasting and ultimately more satisfying kind.

      In the original article, you make a big deal out of how happiness is externally set. It's not. You said a bunch of things about yourself - what makes you happy. You then said anyone who doesn't experience what makes you happy is objectively suffering from a delusion.

      I suggest you read the original article once again, because you missed the point about the external requirements of happiness.

      Delete
    3. "There are immutable, objective and externally-imposed requirements for happiness. Without satisfying those requirements, “happiness” is nothing other than delusion, no different from a drug-induced high that comes crashing down when the harsh reality inevitably intervenes."

      "What are some of the external requirements? A sense of achievement that will live on beyond one’s own life is a big factor. Meeting an intellectual challenge tackling a sophisticated problem is conducive to happiness. So is a sense of triumph, not necessarily over other people but over your own weakness and short-sighted desire to do only what is easy. So is a sense of feeling helpful and useful to other people."

      You also mention money in the follow-up paragraph. News flash: I don't care about these things. These things are not objective, immutable facts AT ALL, they are what you desire for happiness but not what everyone desires for happiness. I could be the most successful person in the world who will be remembered for all of history and be insanely rich to go along with it, and it still would not be worth it to me because that's not what makes me happy in life. If you want to provide some backup for your statement that there are "external requirements for happiness" that everyone agrees with, I would love to hear it, but just saying that it's an immutable fact doesn't make it so.

      I'm poor, I haven't accomplished anything in my life, and I just do a simple, easy-going job to get by. I could not be happier with my life right now, because these things aren't what matter to me. And I am certainly not unique. Although I respect you and I believe you generally make good arguments, I find that here you're just making no sense whatsoever. You. Don't. Define. What. Happiness. Is. You simply can't say that Tiger Parenting is the most efficient way to long-term happiness because happiness is externally set, because it isn't. Different things make different people happy and to deny that that is the truth and that they are suffering from delusions because their definition of happiness is different from yours is incredibly self-centered.

      And, for the record, I detest drugs and have never touched a drug in my life (medicine that doesn't alter mood/feelings aside). But, even as someone who hates drugs - if someone is happy when they're doing drugs, who gives you the right to tell them that their form of happiness is wrong? I understand that you lost someone close to you because of heroin overdose, but that only means that he made a selfish decision by not considering the happiness of those around him, not that his state of happiness was wrong.

      tl;dr: You don't have the right to define what happiness is for everyone. Period.

      Delete
    4. I'm poor, I haven't accomplished anything in my life, and I just do a simple, easy-going job to get by. I could not be happier with my life right now, because these things aren't what matter to me.

      Let's start from here. Suppose you lose that simple, easy-going job, and you can't find another job like that one. (That happens a lot these days.) Will you still be happy?

      Or what if you don't lose your job, but the other people at your job do, and you have to shoulder their job responsibilities. Your easy-going job is suddenly no longer easy-going. Still happy?

      Or you could get sick, or injured. That certainly happens all the time. You can no longer work, or even if you can, the financial burden of medical bills become so crushing that you cannot even pay for the simplest things that bring joy in your life. Still happy?

      My guess is that you will have to answer "no" to each of the questions above. Now, how was I able to come up with these scenarios, when I do not know you at all? If the preconditions for happiness were so subjective that they were beyond the imagination of any person other than oneself, how is it possible that I can easily imagine ways in which your life could turn unhappy?

      Delete
    5. None of those things you mentioned would make me unhappy, which proves your argument exactly wrong. Do you know what makes me happy in life? Spending time with my lover, my friends, and my family. I've been homeless for a period of nearly a year before. It was certainly not ideal and I obviously prefer not being homeless, but even when I was homeless I was still happy with my life because I had the things I cared about, the people around me.

      What has happened to me is pretty damn close to what you presumed would make me unhappy, actually. Due to negligence of a fellow employee on the job, my hand was very nearly sliced in half. On the path to recovery, I was okay to work light duty. However, my employer put me under heavy duty work and my other hand was injured due to my employer not following safety protocol at all. I fought for worker's compensation for over a year, in the process losing my job. With no income coming in, I had to sell off everything of value I owned to get by while I fought to be compensated, and after I ran out of things to sell I ended up on the streets. After a year of fighting, I finally got compensated and ended up being able to get back onto my feet financially.

      Despite being homeless due to no fault of my own, despite having serious injuries to both of my hands, despite being screwed over by my employer, despite having to fight and fight and fight for something which should have been very simple for over a year, despite all of this... I was still happy. Because I have internally set conditions for happiness that don't match up at all with your so-called "external" conditions of happiness, and my internally set conditions had been met. And I am not alone.

      Delete
    6. I admire your story. It shows real grit and toughness. And it is admirable that you kept your spirits up during difficult times. One can easily understand if you framed the tough times as happy times.

      But your actions clearly indicate the contrary. If you were happy being homeless, why did you change that status? Why did you fight for a year? Why did you bother to get compensated? Why did you bother to get back onto your feet financially? Obviously, you were not satisfied with the homeless state you were in, and it is hardly surprising that you were not, because very few people are. You simply do not see anyone clamoring to become homeless.

      I hesitated for a long time before I put up this comment, because I do not want to be a jerk to someone who experienced difficulty. But in the end, I decided that it was better to stare down the truth. The truth is that there is a basic, minimum material threshold for happiness. The height of that threshold may vary depending on the individual. But virtually no one is happy while having nothing to eat, having no clothes to wear, having no place to sleep. In fact, with any person--any person in the world--one can always find ways to make that person unhappy without knowing that much about that person, by taking away a few basic material things.

      Delete
    7. You may be uncomfortable being homeless or not having clothes or shoes, but you could still be happy. You cannot say that family living in the deep Amazon wearing a loin cloth is less happy than you are. Everyone has different priorities and tiger parenting tends to use rigid techniques to teach a child valuable life lessons.

      Delete
  24. No culture or belief system is perfect and you can define success in any way you wish. Each to their own.

    Many of us have realized that it's not material success that brings true lasting happiness. This type of happiness comes from harmonious relationships, finding a vocation, appreciating the wonders of the natural world and the simple pleasures in life, having fulfilling hobbies and all forms of personal development and creative activities. It does not involve drugs or other types of instant gratification.

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    1. No culture or belief system is perfect and you can define success in any way you wish. Each to their own.

      No one claimed otherwise, so I do not see why you are making this point.

      Many of us have realized that it's not material success that brings true lasting happiness.

      And many of us realize that without minimal material foundation, no happiness is possible.

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    2. A lot of the the success of specific Asian-American groups is reliant on selectivity and the circumstances of that ethnic group upon coming to the US (or other countries).

      There was a study done comparing the much lower educational attainment rates of Chinese immigrants in Spain compared to Chinese in the US..And it isn't just college, apparently 2nd generation Chinese in Spain have one of the lowest high school completion rates of all 2nd generation immigrant groups..

      In the US, war refugee Asian groups such as Vietnamese underperform compared to other Asians such as Chinese, and compared to whites. Yet in Germany and France, they are actually one of the highest performing ethnic groups educationally. How do you explain this discrepancy? Reducing it all down to "culture" is a bit simplistic imo. Only 5 percent of adults in China and Vietnam even have a college degree.

      The other issue I have is not really about the whole idea of "tiger mothers" in general, but with Amy Chua herself, and her disingenuousness. You know her book was advertised in China as an "American" parenting guide, right? She intentionally publicized the most controversial part of the book only to get publicity, then later went on a press tour to claim that she was simply misunderstood, talking instead about how she had changed. In one interview she even says she'd be fine with her daughter choosing beauty school!

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  25. Asian American kids dominate Stuy in part because the average Asian IQ is slightly higher than the average IQ of whites, and at the far end of the bell curve that slight difference is magnified. IQ isn't enough to explain all of the racial difference however. The other part is that white kids living in Manhattan are rich enough to attend private schools where they can network for a living instead of grinding and studying. They'd have to party less to compete with the Asians at Stuy... and so they don't.

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  26. so the ends (overcoming adversity, financial success, the best they can be) justify the means (verbal, emotional and physical abuse, denying of individual freedom, all or nothing every single day)
    and the same vein the intentions justify the actions?
    sure, THAT isn't a dangerous methodology to have!
    Example: one way we could stop White Americans from being outperformed academically is to forbid Asian Americans from going to collegem so none of them get graduate qualifications. Despite the emphasis on education, many people in the East come to the US for THEIR education, so we'll be safer from them.
    Anyone who stridently decry this must simply be too distracted by the "discrimination against Asians" rule (just the mechanics) that they have lost sight of why such a mechanic is necessary (the improvement of White Americans in terms of college grads)
    (I would be appalled at America if the above happened, I only meant it to be a metaphoric example)

    Tiger Parenting and philosophies made Western countries powerhouses, when Native Americans and other such tribes were being slaughtered or enslaved, women were second class because of their gender, anyone not White was second class because of their skin colour, and anyone who wasn't Christian was a barely tolerated heretic. And let's not even get into the working conditions in factories for CHILDREN in my country (UK) when WE had an Empire in the 1800s.

    Of course, critics of Western parenting can make these arguments as well, the intentions are good (children discovering themselves, having a happy life, pursuing their passions) the the mechanics are bad (not holding them to standards, not teaching them respect, hard work, perseverance and obtaining grades to at least have a steady income UNTIL they find their passions, and then to master those passions enough to turn them into a career).

    At the core all parents (happy and successful children), all countries (prosperity) and all people (survival, happiness and success) want the same things, but constantly questioning HOW to achieve these goals, and what we SHOULD and SHOULDN'T do is what distinguishes the First World (countries like the US and Australia, which people WANT to go to) from countries like Korea, China and countries like Afghanistan where people are (or were) slaughtering each other because of black-and-white applications of religion (where people are trying to move AWAY from).

    People who read this, keep discussing the results and ethics of Tiger Parenting, keep discussing the results and ethics of all the different parenting styles, but don't believe rude bigots like this who believe they have the best answer to a complex dilemma that applies to each person differently, and who thinks life must either be full potential every hour of every day or life on a morphine drip.

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