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My Family And Other Globalizers | To be or not to be: A Tiger Mom

Amy Chua had kept her daughters up until midnight perfecting their Chinese characters, but I heaped Ishaan with praise if he merely managed to distinguish his “b” from a “d”.

February 26, 2022 / 07:00 AM IST
(Representational image) Amy Chua's children were polite and helpful, and they did not go on playdates because they spent their “free” time perfecting various intricate competencies. (Image: Matt Bango via StockSnap.io)

(Representational image) Amy Chua's children were polite and helpful, and they did not go on playdates because they spent their “free” time perfecting various intricate competencies. (Image: Matt Bango via StockSnap.io)

What binds Asia together isn’t trade or religion as much as the Tiger Mom. The result of crazed competition engendered by enormous populations and limited opportunities, the Asian Tiger Mom has claws that she uses to ensure her offspring’s success untrammeled by misery.

My Family and Other Globalizers logoMy first encounter with this infamous figure was in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. My son, Ishaan, had just started at a school founded by one of Indonesia’s wealthy Chinese families. It was the hunting grounds of diamond-dripping Asian mothers with big ambitions for their children. The founder’s daughter, a moon-faced child, was Ishaan’s classmate.

This four-year-old began her mornings an hour earlier than the other children with a wushu lesson - by the time she was five, she was competing in international martial arts competitions. In a corridor conversation, her mother told me that she was training her daughter to to her in traditional Chinese style. “I think it instills respect. Don’t you?” she asked me mildly, leaving my head spinning in a million directions as I thought of Ishaan’s epic sassiness.