Saturday, June 25

Tiger Mother: Now with a video clip!

This is the third post in a series based on Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and my developmental psychology project. See this post for the introduction and this post for the first update to six years old. Before I get into my project, I want to share a video clip I saw on the Frisky. Read the next paragraph after you watch the clip. It's pretty interesting.

I have to say that this is completely unheard of. I don't know of one Chinese parent who speaks to their child in English. In addition, I really despise the television station that does this. They rely on "gotcha" moments (to take a phrase from Sarah Palin) and shock to make for entertaining television rather than a realistic study. In my opinion, it's no better than reality television.

But in terms of my project, let's pick up from when Marilyn's 8 years old! The first thing that I'm told is that my partner and I are arguing more frequently. Honestly, I'm upset. From my point of view, I don't remember falling in love with the guy or "what I ever saw in him", literally. I kind of want to divorce him and get it over with. However, I recognize that this is an extremely selfish point of view. Children are such a big responsibility. Is there any greater endeavor than to support and raise a child? This point reinforced the view that I will not have children until I know I can take care of one. Not until I can put someone's needs above my own. 

Marilyn's a pretty good kid. She usually finishes her homework and chores, and only occasionally forgets. I don't blame her too much. When I was a kid (and to a degree, even in my teens), I was never under any pressure to do housework. I was expected to maintain a clean bedroom, but I never had to cook, or take out the trash, or do dishes, or clean other rooms. This fits in with the traditional idea that a student's responsibility is to study, but I don't know if it's the right decision overall. At times, it made me feel like I was entitled, being served. For some reason, now that I live alone, I can do all of these things. ...But I still feel like it's a pretty big risk, sending a kid into dorm life without these essential skills. 

One of the important things that the program focuses on is health and exercise. During my childhood, this was never a focus. My daughter,  Marilyn, enjoys tennis and volleyball, which is much more than I have enjoyed. She's actually a bit of a tomboy. While I hung out with boys, I spent time with boys who were not into sports. I still hang out with that kind of boy.

Marilyn's been taking piano lessons and she sings as well. She wants to be a part of the instrumental music program at school and wants to learn another instrument. The options are: violin, clarinet, saxophone, and flute. Guess which one I choose. Just guess. Violin. Duh. I've played the violin myself and while I'm against the idea of forcing my child to play something, I have the philosophy that if you expose your child to a variety of activities, he or she will find their talent and their interests. 

In school, she's fantastic at math and science and does decently in language arts but doesn't do any extra assignments. ...She's starting to sound like my little brother. I've always loved writing. I remember keeping a diary in my middle school years detailing when I woke up, the fact that I played on the computer, accompanied my mother to the grocery store and hung out with friends. ...Yeah. I tweeted long before Twitter was a thing. Does this make me a social media hipster? Anyways, it seems I've derailed. I suggested that Marilyn write a diary to improve her language skills, but it didn't help.

Then at age ten, life events have promoted me to regional director at my job. This means that have less time to spend at home. I'm not sure how to deal with this or how to handle it. I love advancing my career; it's how I measure my success. At the same time, I know that there will have to be a time where I choose my family over my career. I guess... it's a time of personal sacrifice. Whenever I'm ready for it.

Then my husband and I separate. It was a long time coming and although I felt happiness at the time... it just feels petty in hindsight. The children aren't really affected, but Marilyn seems more clingy. 

Marilyn is doing well in math, even in classes above grade level. I get her more books to practice, like my parents did with me.

When Marilyn's 12, my husband and I finally divorce. He still lives in the town and we share custody. I've never been in or seen this kind of relationship so it's a bit strange to me. However, they don't mention it much in the remainder of the program. 

Marilyn still makes me proud in school. She's talented musically, socially and mathematically. However, there's still that writing... She's not great at it. 

Then comes the fun part. She starts experiencing... puberty! Marilyn's moody and sometimes comes home from school and shuts her door. Honestly, I was incredibly stubborn in my teen years and even now. Usually, I'm pretty easy going but if you grate on my nerves, as my mother is prone to do, I ... will leave the situation. Marilyn is also going off about hotties at her school (at age 12!) which I never did. She's also complaining about her weight. I might have been a late bloomer but I did not care about that type of thing then. I was a rather existential 12 year old. 

In addition to this type of physical, hormonal growth, she also grows up intellectually, becoming interested in current events, an interest I strongly encourage. She starts collecting pictures and building her identity. 

Her grades drop in 6th grade. Cue freaking out from the other side of the screen. She gets Bs in English, Social Studies and Spanish. I don't want to be shallow about grades, but I don't really remember anyone who did that badly in middle school. In the big scheme of things, no, it's not bad. In college, I get Bs all the time. Sometimes, I'm thankful to get them. Those grades in middle school though? I was getting worried.

At the end of this period, I am more or less reflecting about how quickly she grew up. One moment, I was worrying about her sleep cycle and the next, I'm worrying about who she's sleeping with. Even though this is an accelerated program... kids sure do grow up fast.


  1. Wow, that video clip was insane! I agree with you, i don't know that t.v. station is, but the clip was pretty intense. This program sounds so interesting! I would love to take a psychology course like this when I get older.

  2. Sure they are! My son is 2 years old and he is becoming more and more interactive. I am enjoying every single moment with him!
    Great post!

  3. This program turns out to be more and more interesting every time you do an update about it.
    About the video, no comments! It's sad and embarassing how tv has come to a point, where everything needs to be entertainment. As you mention, the shock factor is there, in every single scene.
    You need to be patient mom! :D My mom still suffers from the same problem, since I can be quite an introvert person sometimes.

  4. What exactly is the purpose of the video? An asian mum may be really strict and use drastic measures and harsh words but what I see in the video is too much of a caricature of the tiger mum. It's very interesting though and I had a good time gasping and laughing. I'm so gonna borrow that book and compare with how my mum was back then. LoL. I just shared the video on my FB. I'm waiting to see comments to it.

    Your project is really interesting. I remember reading your post about when your "daughter" was still very young. She's since grown eh?

  5. I love how thorough you are with raising this virtual child of yours! You're definitely gonna be raising some successful children one day! ^_~

  6. I really love reading about your project - it is endlessly fascinating and just seems to be so unpredictable. Looking forward to seeing how she handles her teen years!


Thanks for your comments!