Jan. 20, 2011 at 1:20 PM ET
If, like me, you were raised by at least one ultra strict, old-school Asian immigrant parent, you have already experienced the PTSD of flashbacks related to all the Tiger Mom brouhaha.
It's progressed to the appearance of Tiger Mom memes, which you're probably already familiar with on Internet forums and imageboards, where images such as Robert Pattinson jumping, sad Keanu Reeves and Cigar Guy take on a life of their own. It's something that starts appearing everywhere, but it changes all the time depending on who's posting it.
If your friends aren't bombarding you with articles and comments about this roaring controversy, as mine were/are — Tiger Mom is Amy Chua, a Yale Law School professor who stirred up a generation's collective angst with an excerpt of her book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" featured in The Wall Street Journal under the way-to-be-provocative headline, "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior." In it, she describes a fascist-like household where her daughters were never allowed to go to sleepovers, "get any grade less than an A," and "not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama."
You can imagine, there were all kinds of backlash to this, but there was also insightful commentary too, such as this one from San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jeff Yang, who dug deep in the reservoir of the Asian American experience to make a thoughtful analysis of the situation, in the context of Chua's book. In short: Chua's claims may reinforce existing misperceptions about Asian students and families, but, he found that "The 'excerpt' made the book seem like a harsh diatribe against American parenting standards and a handbook of Ancient Chinese Secrets for fixing your lazy, sullen, Wii-addicted kids." So he read the book in one sitting and declared:
It's a riveting read, and nothing like what the Journal "excerpt" suggests. There's still plenty to be horrified by at in the actual book, but even more, as Wang noted, to think about — and laugh at, as odd as that may seem to those who haven't yet read it: Far from being strident, the book's tone is slightly rueful, frequently self-deprecating and entirely aware of its author's enormities. It's a little, but not quite, like a Chelsea Handler book — if Chelsea Handler were a Chinese American law professor and Momzilla of two.
He also rooted out the puppeteer behind all of the fuss: Rupert Murdoch, who might be married to a Tiger Mom himself.
As much as there was serious soul wrangling in adults reminiscing about their childhood and looking at their own parenting styles now, there was also humor. (Like watching "The Joy Luck Club" in the theater with your friends and realizing this is a little too real, and crying and laughing at the same time about it. Cathartic.) And Yang also found those yucks, as seen in the memes above, which I grabbed from one of his Facebook albums (we're not only Facebook friends, we're real-life friends who have known each other for more than a decade). Here's a link to a meme generator with more laugh-inducing, cringe-worthy sayings, such as this one (to the right). By the way, that's not Chua in the photo, but some stock image. Because, you know, we all look alike.
When you're no longer under oppressive rule and enjoying freedom, it's easier to laugh at the tyranny of the past. But, I have a feeling a lot of us revisiting our childhood are wincing, too. I didn't have a Tiger Mom, but I did have a High Expectations Asian Father who did not let us speak English in the house (that didn't last long), who forced us to go to Thai school, who did not believe in air conditioning during the day (in Florida), who did not "let" me date until I finished college and who did not let us sleep over at other kids' houses (unless they were Thai). I'm grateful now for the discipline he instilled in us and the ability to speak and understand our native language, and my siblings and I have all done well academically and in life, in general, but I would sure like to have some of those childhood memories wiped by Eternal Sunshine.
Now I need to go schedule a therapy session. Stat.
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