Tigermom Part 2

Tigermom…part 2 (admittedly alot of generalizations take place here and in part 1.  These thoughts are simply a summary of my experiences developed over a rather long time)


Your self esteem is not important

In China, I’ve seen it all.   Parents publicly yelling at their kids, screaming at them.   On occasion hitting them.   Always mentally abusing them.   Telling them how useless they are, and how they won’t amount to anything unless they do things their mom’s way.   Threatening to throw them away.  Telling the kids how useless they are is a very common phrase in China(I’m on the receiving end of it myself).  In America  I listen to the mom telling the child in Chinese when they misbehave that  they are losing face for the family, rather than trying to root cause the situation to make it a teaching moment. 

Indeed I watch how Chinese parents talk to their kids and my jaw sometimes drops.   I have to tell my wife to not talk that way publicly to our kids for fear of us getting a home visit from Social Services.

I remember in San Francisco before I first came to China, I was living with a very self confident Chinese American, and her caucasian husband.   She was vivacious, outgoing and cool.   Yet one night she appeared a bit anxious and nervous.  She told me her grandmother was coming over.   They didn’t get along.  Sure enough, her grandmother came over, and left her in tears.  Why?  Her grandmother kept insulting her in Cantonese, telling her how useless she was.  I was really taken aback as I saw the scene unfold.  How could this self confident woman let herself be dragged down so easily?

Don’t be fooled by the modesty.   It’s simply a lack of self esteem disguised as such.

Are there side effects?  Damn right.  Here are a few:


Assimilate?  How the hell can you assimilate when your time is managed all day by a Tigermom?  Now we start to get a bit into the longterm side effects.   Don’t forget most Tigermoms are well educated with an intense focus on achievement and the short term.   Their goal is simple: Harvard, or something like it.   Like the Metallica song, “nothing else matters”.   Their friends are supervised.   They rarely host sleepovers.    They are basically kept out of mainstream society. 
I exaggerate?  Maybe slightly.  Do I generalize?  Nope.  This is where FACE comes into play.  The desire for FACE drives the need for achievement.   Which in turn decides the social calendar.  Which means no socializing with anyone/anything that can keep you from Tigermom’s goal.

How does this hurt?  What are the odds of going through life til college without having a conversation with a black man?  Pretty good if your mom is a Tigermom.  When these poor kids get into college, they are at an immediate cultural disadvantage with their peers.   Believe it or not, there are normal people who get into Harvard(or what have you).   They are assimilated.   They are emotionally healthy.  They do not lack self confidence.  And if their American, they are certainly not  modest.  

In hindsight, it’s no wonder I’ve met so many modest, unassuming, and quiet 1st generation Chinese kids in America.  They have no self esteem!  To grow up quiet and unassuming in the kinetic society that is America is to create a vacuum for others to label you.  They will use your own shyness to identify you, and to stereotype you.

This means they cannot make friends so easily,(unless it’s with other 1st gen Chinese) and even more so when it counts!    Making friends is one thing, but in American society one needs to have experience with all strata.  Being able to swim within American society requires more than just getting along.   More likely than not the person interviewing you for that job or internship IS NOT going to be a 1st gen Chinese.  He’s gonna be a white man that will care as much about your social skills and your ability to express yourself as he will your engineering grade.  

EQ vs IQ

Being poorly adjusted is just another way of expressing you have a low EQ.  We already know how high the 1st generation IQ  is.   The Chinese do not focus on EQ.   In China, I’ve yet to come across an  emphasis on this.   

We have one neighbor with an extremely obese son.   His mom put him two grades ahead of his age, and of course we all know about it.  Tigermom likes to brag.  But the mother is so busy beaming within the glow of her child’s accomplishments that she ignores the emotional side of the child’s needs, ie he isn’t ready to attend class two years ahead of his peer group.  Yet the Chinese Tigermom is so focused on the gratification of immediate achievement, that she neglects the longterm emotional side of the child. 

So of course this kid is relentlesly bullied.  He’s been suspended from school, for stretches of one week at a time.  And the mom to this day doesn’t understand why.    How do we know this?  She blames the kids bullying him!   Why she expects 11 year old’s to accept a 9 year old is beyond me.  He’s an easy target.

The cultural obsession later with sudden gratification, ie high test score, plays itself out later in life, when EQ begins to take dominance over IQ within a large social group, such as the company.   This in turn effects one’s ability to lead, and to manage.  Think about it:  how can one lead people from different social backgrounds that you’ve personally never had social interaction with before?

In this regard, Tigermom has ironically failed to prepare her child for social success.  Why?  Up to 1980’s China an emphasis was still placed on test scores, in determining one’s career path.  Yet this is when Tigermom was inevitably raised.  When Tigermom comes West she allows her experience to dictate how her kids will be raised, ignorant of the circumstances of her new culture.    The old adage is still sadly true in America.   Who you know matters.   Your ability to socially interact with others quickly dominates your “paper abilities”.    

Managers need people skills.  The ability to understand and manage others.  They don’t have to be the smartest person in the room.

It’s ironic that as kids inability today to adjust comes from Tigermom’s inability to focus on EQ, the older generations of Chinese that have been here for 20 years no longer wish to return to China.  They admit their inability to easily adjust to life there.  

  In America, kids need to speak up and be heard.  They need to create an identity.   And they need to have a strong EQ. 

 Tigermoms make bad wives
And finally we come to dads.   That’s right.  We know that Tigermoms make terribly efficient mom’s.  They cook, they help with homework, they pay the bills.  And in some households they manage the money.  They run the operation.

But they suck as wives.  In the process of raising the kids, and managing the household they forget abt dear ole’ dad.  Yeah…daddy has needs, too.   In my view, the Tigermom is totally inadequate when it comes to fulfilling hubby’s emotional needs.   Why is this?  I think it is because Tigermom’s quite often marry their first boyfriend.(remember, we are talking abt Chinese women in their late 30’s, early 40’s, raised in the 80’s, and raised in China.  Very different from China today!)  

Once they’ve fulfilled their parents’ wishes by getting married, they quickly realize they don’t really like the guy their with now.   The divorce rate in Shanghai is 50%.  Look it up.  That’s with those who even dare to divorce.    I find Tigermom’s to be sexually repressed, and just uninterested in having anything more than a shallow relationship with their husband.   (Dear you’re only 40 something. )  Tigermom is more focused on her kids.  She has no prestige to be gained from her husband, who more than likely is just treading water within an American company.     My wife’s parents stopped sharing the same bed in their 40’s.    

However, Tigermom is so competent managing the house, and dad shares in the limelight of mom’s success with the kids as well.   Everything is a tradeoff. 


  1. Content is pretty honest and good. Politically correct is not a issue for me and I respect politically incorrect people if they spoke out of their hearts but damn you have lots of spelling mistakes! Their is NOT they're. Than is not then. Makes my eyes bleed.

  2. Bleed away

    btw, should be "not an issue" rather than "a" and "spoke out of their hearts" should be "speak from their heart"


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