In one of my blog post, I’ve written about some Asian parenting stereotypes that I do not strictly follow. For many Asian Americans who were brought up by immigrant parents, I’m sure they can relate. Ever since Amy Chua coined the phrase “Tiger Mom” in her book, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Asian parenting styles have gotten a bad rep. However, there are some Asian culture parenting styles that I personally think still have some pros and are worth mentioning.
Thankfully, my parents combined the best of both Western and Eastern worlds during my upbringing. This has allowed me to have a glimpse into both Western and Chinese parenting styles, and helped shape my identity as a Chinese mom in America. Today, I’d like to share a few positive Asian parenting practices that I would eventually like to instill in my children.
Focus on academics
Tiger parenting, as we all know, places a strong focus on academics. Surely, you’ve heard about Asian parents putting high expectations on their children to meet their academic success and will do whatever it takes to make it a reality. Often, tiger parents would buy loads of practice problem sets for their children and sit with them to supervise their progress.
Growing up, I did not have my parents help with my schoolwork but they have always instilled in me the importance of getting a good education. Because of the skills and expertise that I learned from school, it propelled me further in life and allowed me to achieve my goals and dreams later in life. I think having a solid foundation in education really made a difference and allowed me to make a difference in my community. Even though I thought that the education system that I went through was rigorous, I take comfort in knowing that whatever I have learned is mine to keep and no one can take it away from me. Knowledge is power and this is something that I definitely want to instill in my daughters.
Focus on discipline and hard work
Growing up, one of my extra-curricular activities was dance class. I remember telling my mum that I hated ballet and I wanted to quit, but my mom did not allow it. She continued to send me to classes. Even when she could not make it in time to drive me, she had my nanny walk me to classes. Thankfully it was about a 20-minute walk, but it’s still a lot for a child.
Just thinking back, I finally understood the rationale behind my mum’s actions – often children will not want to work on their own, which is why parents have to override their preferences. My mum’s perseverance honed my willpower from an early age. As my peers were out playing, I was “working hard”. What my mum wanted me to understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. And true enough, I started enjoying ballet and dancing when I excelled in it after a few years of training. This willpower that I attained allowed me to have the ability to push through difficult circumstances in life even if I didn’t want to. For this, I have my parents to thank for, and I would love for my children to have this same willpower as they grow up.
Focus on family and good values
It’s no secret that the Asian culture parenting emphasizes a lot on family connectedness. It teaches children to respect their elderly, and their obligation is ultimately to provide for their family and society.
As an example, when I go for a typical Chinese reunion dinner, even as an adult, I was taught to address all my aunts and uncles and grandparents upon arrival. This is just good manners.
I was also taught the importance of spending time with family and taking care of each other. Although my parents raised me, my sister and my brother to be independent adults, there is an understanding that if anyone of us needs help, they will be there for us.
Looking forward, I would like my kids to have these same family values instilled in them. I would like to teach them to appreciate their parents, and know that both their parents will be there for them no matter what happens.
Focus on the value of money
When I was a child, I remember feeling embarrassed by my mother. She would never pay the full price for things and would always haggle for deals every single time. My mother was the typical cheap Asian that everyone knows. I never understood my mother until I became an adult and started to pay for things myself.
My parents grew up in poor households, so naturally, they were very frugal with money. They constantly reminded me that money is hard to come by, so be smart about where you spend your money.
My mom was the queen of financial management. She handled our family finances, and knew how to get a good deal out of everything. She was extremely resourceful and instilled in us the value of money since we were young. Naturally, I was a saver too. I saved every cent that I had, and was really careful with how I spent my allowance money.
When I had a full tuition scholarship to study in Singapore and America, it came with some pocket money. Not only did I graduate debt-free, I still managed to save up enough to fund for my traveling expenses. By the time I graduated from college, I had visited close to 15 countries, and they were all self-funded. My parents taught me how to live within my means, and to save what I can for rainy days. Today, I manage all of my family’s finances with ease, and I would like my kids to have the same skill set as I did growing up.
Ultimately, I think the best way to parent is take the best of both worlds, and use a mix of tiger and supportive parenting methods as we raise our children. I do recognize that success doesn’t happen if one has a fixed mindset, so I need to be flexible. As I’ve mentioned in my prior post, every child and every situation is different. If some aspects of my Asian parenting is not working, I am willing to adapt.
So, what are some parenting practices that you’ve adopted from your parents and keep them? Which parenting style has shown to be effective? Leave a comment below!