What it’s like for a teen to be raised by a tiger mom

Tiger Mom and Her Cub is a new monthly column in AsAmNews. I am Bethany Liu
aka Tiger Cub. I am a high school sophomore in California who has been raised by a
Tiger Mom. My mother was born in New York and grew up in a small town in South
Carolina with immigrant parents. My grandparents came to America to live the
American Dream, and they expected her to follow the path they set out.

Cub:


I feel a lot of Tiger pressure because my mom graduated top of her class, and went to
Duke in engineering and Stanford for Business School. She sits on boards, started a
non-profit, and wrote a book. She is a CEO of a big company. She did all the things
my grandparents wanted, and in turn, she wants me to do the same.

I’m expected to get straight A’s in all honors and AP classes in addition to having extracurriculars. I take practice ACTs on the weekends, and my mom complains I started in 10th grade
instead of 8th like my brother who got a perfect score. My mother speaks about
never having gotten below an A in high school while I whine about my two B’s. She
recalls having dreams of becoming an engineer, I am not sure what I want but I am
sure engineering is not for me.

I have a different outlook on life than she does, both
as a product of my generation and as a result of the culture I was raised in.
My mom believes in a very narrow and strict path to success, the one that she
followed, I believe that there can be another way. I don’t think that this path is for
everyone. Not everyone is book-smart and suited for the academic environment of
college.

There is value in letting people pursue their dreams, even if they are not the
dreams of their parents. There is not one singular path through life that works for
everyone. People can get to the same place through different journeys and
sometimes passion and enjoyment are more important than material things. Each of
us has a different definition of what a successful life should look like and I believe
that modern parenting should reflect this notion.

My mother disagrees, for example,
I was forced by my mom to play piano for seven years, and she only let me quit after my teacher had all but given up on me. I don’t believe that piano truly changed
much and I don’t think that it added anything but stress to my life.

Mom:


The goal of piano is not an end in and of itself, but to teach you to stick and learn
something over a long period of time. True expertise can only be found through
perseverance and hard work, skills that will be critical in your future. Life doesn’t
come easy, learning to persist and continue even when things are hard is an
invaluable skill to have.

Cub:


Agree to disagree. I don’t think that forced piano lessons are the only way to teach
these skills. Allowing someone to learn to persevere in something they are
passionate about is infinitely more valuable than forcing someone to continue
playing an instrument they do not care for.

Mom:


Think back to what that experience taught you other than a hatred for your mom
nagging you. Even something that you do not have an affinity towards is something
that you can learn. It taught you that with enough time and perseverance, you can
learn to do anything, even if it’s not something that you chose for yourself.

Cub:


I will admit that I would never have chosen piano on my own and in the end, I did
learn something, though I wish that it didn’t take seven years of you yelling at me to
do so.

Though we started this column to help others who feel the mom and cub tension. I
hope that it will help us work on our relationship too.