I'm finished reacting to Amy Chua and our many different Tiger Mothers
I am so tired of talking about crazy Amy Chua Tiger Mother.
For the past two weeks, all conversational roads have led back to Tiger Mother as smug Amy Chua has been taken apart from all possible angles. I took part in an online discussion and podcast with other Asian American parenting writers and bloggers. I was quoted in Jeff Yang’s column in the San Francisco Chronicle. I was interviewed by the Associated Press. My article made the front page of New America Media. I was on National Public Radio’s “Radio Talk” out of Philadelphia. I was almost on Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC (but technical difficulties precluded). Even a civil rights panel discussion at Michigan State University (MSU) Law School could not escape repeated references to Amy Chua.
Meanwhile, I had to apologize to my son’s first grade teacher for not doing the writing workbook I had promised I would do with him — because I had been too busy trying to prove that crazy Amy Chua was not a “Superior Chinese Mother.”
Now if that ain’t ironic
So while people at Borders cafÃ© glare at me when I scold my son in Mandarin, wondering no doubt if I am about to “Go Amy Chua” on him, I am enjoying the creative outpouring of the children who know this kind of parenting.
Asian Americans are channeling their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) into the funny new Tiger Mom Says meme: "Of course I love you. If I didn't love you, I wouldn't be so terribly disappointed in how you've turned out."
High Expectations Asian Father has taken notice:
“Who is this Superior Chinese Mother?”
“Is she single? Superior Chinese Mother sounds so d--- attractive.”
“Oh never mind she’s a writer with an English major.”
Even Chua’s older daughter Sophia responded with an open letter to the New York Post:
“They assume Lulu and I are oppressed by our evil mother. That is so not true. Every other Thursday, you take off our chains and let us play math games in the basement.”
In search of reprieve, I took my children to hear Byron Pitts, Chief National Correspondent for CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, speak at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business on MLK Day about how he was illiterate and stuttering until the age of twelve and how “by staying focused, setting simple and achievable goals and finding strength in faith, Pitts overcame powerful odds.” I thought it would be good for them.
Guess what he talked about?
His own Tiger Mother, who summed up her own parenting approach as, “Go to college or I will beat you to death.”
During the Q&A, he read the most amazing letter she wrote — in red ink — which can be found in his memoir, Step Out on Nothing, when he was on the verge of dropping out of Ohio Wesleyan College his freshman year. She opens with “Dear Mr. Brain Dead, Have you lost your f---ing mind?”, hammers him with all sorts of salty language for wanting to give up and then exhorts that he is a gift from God who is capable of more than he knows.
Mrs. Pitts’ letter reads very differently than Chua’s calling her children “garbage” to make them reach for more than they think they are able.
Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second-generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Ann Arbor and the Big Island of Hawaii. She is an editor of IMDiversity.com Asian American Village, lead multicultural contributor for AnnArbor.com and a contributor for New America Media's Ethnoblog. She is on the Advisory Board of American Citizens for Justice. She team-teaches "Asian Pacific American History and the Law" at University of Michigan and University of Michigan Dearborn. She is a popular speaker on Asian Pacific American and multicultural issues. Check out her website at franceskaihwawang.com, her blog at franceskaihwawang.blogspot.com, and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.