How I Ended Up Like My Tiger Mom With Peaceful Parenting


Welcome to the June 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting:

Parenting in Theory vs. in Reality

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants are sharing how their ideas and methods of parenting have changed.

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tiger mom.jpg

In Laotian ceremonies where blessings are the cultural spotlight, “get good grades” was the most common blessing for children by elders next to lifelong health. Another common blessing was also to “be good children,” disguised as don’t fail your parents; “get good grades.” Academic success is financial stability is parental success. My mom was born in Laos, a tiny country in Southeast Asia, and she is known to be a classic “Tiger Mom.” By the time my siblings and I were in school and my memories were valid, I was raised to succeed in school and I did. I began earning as a straight-A/B student during the grade years that counted and earned a varsity letter in tennis my freshman year of high school then go on to be the first female in my family of immigrants to graduate college and, hell, high school in my immediate family. In Tiger Mom finesse, she still attributes all my achievements in the way my mom raised me, the way she talked to me, and even disciplined me.

Tiger Mom is a term used to describe a mother, who uses strict ruling and tough love to drive their child(ren) toward academic success. The stereotype is the overbearing, always yell-talking Mom, who seems to hate all your friends. That example is loosely based on my experience growing up with my mom, who moved to the U.S. in 1979 and was (arrange) married to my father six years later. There are a few definitions which narrow Tiger Moms down to being Chinese but it can cross many ethnicities. In all accuracy though, Tiger Moms usually are Asian and their children are first-generation American students, who are terrified of getting spanked by a flip flop for anything less than an top of the class.

I felt deprived and embarrassed like when my mom vehemently denied for me to attend a sleepover across the street. She was so rooted in her our culture that she would’ve done most of anything to keep me from assimilating into sleepovers and Hanson music videos and focus only on academics. Her parenting energy was devoted toward my success and stripped my emotional well-being that I rebelled so hard that it shattered all her work with underage binge drinking and a few citations to show for it. Lavishing in my selfishness and proclamation to be forever child-free, I was smacked harder than the fly swatter when I became pregnant in 2010. I made this internal vow to never be like my mom. I will never heed her advice, I will never let her teach my children, I will never forgive her. Two grand-babies later, the proverbial apple didn’t fall far from the motherhood tree no matter how hard I intently reached for the opposite of my upbringing.

It took me 20 months of gestation and two natural births then 26 months of peaceful parenting to finally realize I’m my tiger mom. I want my children to succeed. I want them to have a stable life. I want them to be driven. Most of all, we both want the best for them. My tiger mom wanted me to achieve more than she was able to and I have the same wish for mine. She had her way of making it happen and I have my peaceful ways to guide them. Though using eccentric methods, she was selfless in wanting me to always do my absolute best. I believe that’s all my mom knew and I know differently as a mom so I do better. Disguised under “peaceful parenting,” I’m driving myself to excel at parenting so my children will be successful people much like the wishes from my tiger mom.

tiger mom

How are you the same/different as your parents?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (posts will be live and updated no later than afternoon on June 11):

  • My little gastronomes — “I’ll never cook a separate meal for my children,” Maud at Awfully Chipper vowed before she had children; but things didn’t turn out quite as she’d imagined.
  • Know Better, Do Better. Except When I Don’t. — Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy was able to settle in her parenting choices before her children arrived, but that doesn’t mean she always lives up to them.
  • Judgments Made Before Motherhood — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks back on her views of parents she came in contact with before she became a mother and how much her worldview of parenting has changed!
  • A Bend in The Road — Lyndsay at ourfeministplayschool writes about how her visions of homeschooling her son during the elementary school years have changed drastically in the last year – because HE wants to go to school.
  • I Wish Children Came with Instruction Manuals — While Dionna at Code Name: Mama loves reading about parenting, she’s not found any one book that counts as an instruction manual. Every child is different, every family is different, every dynamic is different. No single parenting method or style is the be-all end-all. Still, wouldn’t it be nice if parenting were like troubleshooting?
  • The Mistakes I’ve Made — Kate at Here Now Brown Cow laments the choices she made with her first child and explains how ditching her preconceived ideas on parenting is helping her to grow a happy family.
  • I Only Expected to Love… — Kellie at Our Mindful Life went into parenting expecting to not have all the answers. It turns out, she was right!
  • They See Me Wearin’, They Hatin’ — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different contemplates putting her babywearing aspirations into practice, and discussed how she deals with “babywearing haters.”
  • Parenting Human BeingsErika Gebhardt lists her parenting “mistakes,” and the one concept that has revolutionized her parenting.
  • Doing it right: what I knew before I had kids… — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud, guest posting at Natural Parents Network realises that the number one game in town, when it comes to parenting, is judgement about doing it right. But “doing it right” looks different to everybody.
  • A synopsis of our reality as first time parents — Amanda at My Life in a Nut Shell summarizes the struggles she went through to get pregnant, and how her daughter’s high needs paved the way for her and her husband to become natural parents.
  • Theory to Reality? — Jorje compares her original pre-kid ideas (some from her own childhood) to her personal parenting realities on MommaJorje.com.
  • The Princess Paradigm — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen had planned to raise her daughter in a sparkly, princess-free home, but in turn has found herself embracing the glitz.
  • Healthy Eating With Kids: Ideal vs. Real — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs had definite ideas about what healthy eating was going to look like in her family before she had kids. Little did she realize that her kids would have something to say about it.

14 thoughts on “How I Ended Up Like My Tiger Mom With Peaceful Parenting

    • HAHA, right? Moms sure are somethin’ else. I have yet to speak hear from mine after yesterday’s post debacle but I think this time will help heal some hurt (on my end). It’s also funny how they like to text/email their projections to us LOL!

      Thanks so much for reading, I always appreciate your comments!

  1. My Mother was lovely. She had such compassion for us. She would do anything for us. She was amazing. I graduated top of my class in high school, graduated Cum Laude from Smith and went onto Brown to get my MS in Cellular and Molecular Biology.

    She brought out the best in us.

    However, she had her faults.

    She was a loud mouth and got herself in some crazy trouble. She also, in my opinion, drove my father away – although he had some to do with that himself. She had this idea of what a relationship is and it had to be perfect 100%. If it wasn’t, she tried to beat it (not physically but with words) out of him and they both suffered for it. Nothing was ever right.

    I will never be like that. I am very compassionate towards my children – just like her. Everything I learned about parenting that’s positive I learned from her. Relationship wise – she’s not at all my role model. I am very gentle and caring with my husband despite his faults.

    Thanks so much for your post. I look forward to staying in touch!

    • Hi Lisa, thanks for sharing. My parents didn’t have the best example of a relationship either! While they’re still married today, it’s quite surprising they are after all the stuff my dad has done. I take after him mostly in personality traits but my mom taught me to always appreciate uniqueness and our differences in lifestyle are what sets us apart for the better from growing ip poor.

      I look forward to your writing 🙂

  2. I love that you’re able to see the over-arching theme to your/your mother’s parenting goals, while being able to articulate the different ways in which you parent.

    I think the best thing that my mom did/taught me, was this love of outdoors and adventure. She wasn’t a “girly girl” mom…when we were in Girl Scouts our troop was all about camping and budgeting for camping and doing meal-planning. Those practical and rough skills were things I really want Potamus to know. This summer, while I’m off from work, I’m planning hikes and outdoor trips to get dirty (though I am NOT sleeping in a tent goshdarnit) and see the ocean and all sorts of adventurous type things. I think that’s what she was really good at fostering, this sense of nature and exploration and body control and not afraid to get dirty that I love about being a mom, myself.

    • Aww, that’s so sweet. I think we all need a teaching or two about outdoor living haha! You never know when you’ll need to draw on them. Hello? Zombies?

      Seriously though, after sharing that post and using the time since we’ve last spoken, I see where my mom is coming from. She worked so hard at her job to put me through school. I think she just wants me to be independent to where I don’t have to work at jobs other people don’t wanna ever do, like most immigrant workers do. I appreciate that so much.

  3. You’ve hit the nail on the head for me too! I’m driven to make myself the best parent so that my children will succeed – so true. And while I do still have some of (in my case, my father’s) push to help my kiddos achieve, I’m tempering it with the realization that they’ll do so much more when it involves learning and doing what THEY care about, not what I care about. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us!
    ~Dionna @ CodeNameMama.com

    • Thank you, Dionna. I am a bit pushy too in cases where I see the toddler exceed in his milestones then I try to go to the next step a bit too quickly without celebrating or reveling in the achievement. I need to stop and appreciate a bit.

  4. What a great post. I really liked the twist at the end — I totally get what you’re saying, that even though our methods differ, all of us parents who love our kids are really reaching for the same thing. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • That’s basically what we all need to remember as parents. We’re all in this together and we can leave any judgement at the door. Or as least just keep it to ourselves. Ha!

  5. I guess it varies from person to person, A’s Lao mom never cared about his grades or him going to college or not.
    I feel like I just want my kids to be happy, good people, with work ethic. My white mama must be a tiger mom though cuz she sure would “crack the whip” about grades and college. 😘

    • See? You were always meant to be in the Azn realm! I know some Lao families don’t put that pressure on their kids, especially the sons. In my family, I was the only one who excelled and there were double standards against me and my brother, who did everything got in trouble in my party days but never got it like I did! >_>

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