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Tiger Mother or Fluffy Bunny Mother?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by jrussellmikkelsen, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. jrussellmikkelsen

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    Reading the arguments for beating your children in the Respect Your Elders thread, all I could think was: words are far stronger, cut deeper, and the impact is greater.

    Case in point: a book just came out called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. You can read all about it HERE.

    To summarize: Chinese American parents (aka Tiger Mothers) win where Westerners fail because they are willing to deprive their children of anything enjoyable in life while simultaneously shaming their children into obedience. From the article:

    FOCUS: The Tiger Mother way: Love it? Hate it? Is it better than beating your child?

    ALT-FOCUS: How do you discipline your kids? If you have none, how do you discipline the kids you come into contact with? Or how do you plan to discipline your kids?
     
  2. DrFrylock

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    Holy fuckballs that's a hell of an article. Seriously, read it.

    One of the reasons I'm iffy on raising children myself is that I simply don't understand how you get them to the place you want them to end up. Tiger Mother? Crane technique? I don't know.

    I have seen the end-result of the Tiger Mother technique many, many times. It's hard to describe the personality, because it's sort of subtle, but it's the same deal every time.

    Tiger Mother children, in my experience, have extraordinary difficulty forming adult relationships with their parents. Some never do. They can form adult relationships with other people (sometimes), but never their parents. They are treated like a child well into their physical adulthood, and they begrudgingly kowtow to the parents. I've never seen a Tiger Mother child refer to Mom or Dad without rolling his or her eyes. Phone calls between Tiger Parents and children are always loud bickering matches, but the parents eventually win because they wield a weapon their children cannot: shame. The kids support their parents out of what they would call "love," but for them there is no clear difference between love and obligation where parents are concerned.

    Then there is always an undercurrent of resentment. Not everyone can be a straight-A student and a virtuoso violinist - sometimes a child's talents lie elsewhere, or they just have natural limitations. There's never any slack cut for this, even well into adulthood. When you resent your parents and they continue to shame you, you can never be on equal footing with them.

    I take issue with this:

    This is not how it always is, or certainly always was. We may be losing the Puritan work ethic, but we invented it and it's not gone yet. I grew up with a parenting style that was neither the Tiger Mother nor the Fluffy Bunny/Cool Friend parent.

    I had three strong male role models in my life growing up: my father and two grandfathers. All three were salesmen. They were not superstars in life, but they did OK. They were all of average academic intelligence, but, being salesmen, above-average social intelligence. I was an odd one out, having the opposite characteristics. They excelled in another area which beats any kind of intelligence every time: they were all men of exceptional integrity. Both grandfathers were depression-era kids and dad picked up a lot of that; all three had the Puritan work ethic.

    For them, you didn't work hard at something because you were shamed into it, you did it because that was how you established and maintained your personal integrity. They didn't care about grades, they cared about real effort. Getting an A in an easy class was nothing to be proud of, but pulling a B+ in a tough-as-nails class certainly was. It was OK to fail from time to time, and it was OK to have personal limitations. The real test was whether you were willing to admit your failure, get back on the horse, and try again with new resolve. I never recall any of them being disappointed, even if I took a misstep or two - their disappointment was not a threat. I was not trading on their integrity, I was trading on mine, and they made it clear that this, above all, would be what would help me rise or fall in the world. The only person I could really disappoint was myself.

    When I became an adult and had done all the hard work, my relationship with each of them changed. The relationship was not a parent/child relationship - I had instead been invited to join them in the ranks of the family patriarchs - as the junior guy, still surrounded by mentors - but in the same club. It's a very different sort of relationship than the Tiger Mother children I know. Ironically, I think the Tiger Mother parenting style persists because the kids, still smoldering with resentment for their own parents that they can never work out, work through those issues by being domineering toward their own children. It's a vicious cycle of sorts.

    This is another difference I experienced. The way I was raised, you didn't take care of your parents (and other people in the world) because you owed them something. You did it because it was the right thing to do, and if you didn't do it, nobody else would. The difference is subtle, but important. If you're forever paying back a debt, then you're born into bondage. You are not making an active choice to take care of your family; you're being coerced into it. The men in my family took care of people because every day they were making an active choice to do so. When they died and left people to take care of, I had to make that same active choice every single day.

    I certainly do not have anything against tenacious practice, practice, practice. In my family, you practiced because you didn't want to do a shitty job at something, and the best way not to do a shitty job was to learn how to be good at it. You didn't practice because your ass was glued to the piano bench.

    I can tell you, however, that rote repetition is not underrated in America. It is overrated nearly everywhere else. This is a very special case of Tiger Mother parenting, and this is perhaps where it goes the most wrong.

    I did my undergraduate work at an institution where I, being an average white male EuroMutt, was actually in the minority, so I am fine with diversity. But most of my fellow students had also grown up in the U.S., so while many of them had Tiger Mothers, they had been steeped in a Western influence. It was not until I got to grad school when I met a larger group of people who had been raised in the Tiger Mother culture since birth. This was a true culture shock.

    I was in one of my first graduate classes, with a professor who was also a research colleague. It was a discussion class, and he was making some point, and I started to play the devil's advocate and we argued back and forth a little bit and it was interesting. A new student from a Tiger Mother culture came by my office after class, utterly aghast. She told me that her and her friends had talked it over, and could not believe I had 'disrespected' the professor so much - and in public!

    I had done nothing of the kind, of course. For her, however, disagreement = disrespect. There was literally no such thing as respectful disagreement, even in the interest of exploring some issue. It took her about two years to be able to "question" anything that was said in any research paper or any classroom, and she never was able to come up with a new research topic on her own - eventually, she dropped out. I later TAed a course and had to fail 20% of the students for plagiarizing their final papers. They didn't do it because they were lazy or because they were trying to cheat, they did it because they didn't understand the point of the paper. The point was not to learn and regurgitate what a bunch of other people had done, it was to synthesize other people's opinions and results into some original thoughts of your own. This concept was totally lost on these students.

    If you permit kids to think on their own, they will 1) often come up with different ideas than you, and 2) be wrong a lot. If you don't, then they may not be wrong as often, but they will never come up with any new ideas. If I wanted to hear a note perfect rendition of Franz Schubert, I could poke the score into my computer, synthesize it, and save the result to a CD that I can play anytime I want. I would rather hear a jazz ensemble improvise, even if it's not always perfect.

    Knowing all this, I'm still not confident I'd be a good parent. I had a natural proclivity toward my father's and grandfathers' work ethic, and so this kind of parenting worked really well for me. For a kid that's a little more listless or a little less self-motivated, maybe not so much.

    What I do know is that if I happen to have kids and they're rolling their eyes at me every time they talk about me at age 30, I'll have definitely fucked up.
     
  3. Crown Royal

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    Yeah, not letting your kids do fun things. Good idea. Seek fucking HELP you sadistic pigs. Maybe a great idea if you want to breed robotic super soldiers or some other psychotic far-right agenda but stealing the childhood from a child is the greatest crime of all, but I'm probably wrong. People always become well-adjusted and focused when they're treated this way, which probably explains the murderous, oppressive goons that are the Chinese government.

    On the other hand, the majority of North American parents are complete pussies that should be ashamed of themselves for letting a fucking CHILD control them the way that they do. Parents no longer discpline or raise their children, they date them. They try to buy their love and walk on egghsells when explaining things to them and ban red pens from schools because a big, mean ol' red "X" is just too much for fragile minds. It's such Mickey Mouse bullshit. Then, we watch a show called "Nanny 9-11" or "Supernanny" where parents who obviously are weak and stupid must hire some British shit-kicker because they are constantly saying things to their children like "Kevin, Mommy would appreciate it if you didn't throw bricks at her head." Fucking pathetic. Your kid doesn't want to do his chores? FUCKING MAKE HIM. You're twice his size, four times as strong, you feed and house him and most importantly of all and I want you to write this down:

    When all else fails, remember that nothing is more embarrassing than a parent. You have the power to embarrass your child, the greatest weapon of all. And that's why you will always rule.

    Personally, my daughter is only two so there's only so much "discipline" you can do. She's usually great, but like any toddler she throws tantrums and takes a swing at us on occasion when she's mad. If she throws a tantrum in public (which is rare), I take her to the car because it's not fair to others to share and let her scream herself numb. At home she knocks thins over, she she gets put in her room, just like when she tires to hit. She's a petty good kid at home and her daycare so she rarely gets in "trouble".
     
  4. Aetius

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    I've probably said it before, but I think one of the things we've lost as a culture (and perhaps Tiger Moms never had) is the notion of non-judgmental criticism. It seems like the only allowable options are to shame the fuck out of someone for sucking or to pretend they succeeded admirably when they didn't.

    I don't have kids yet, so I can't pretend to know too much, but I have worked in a teaching capacity to young kids, and I've always had the best success by acknowledging success and informing them of failure, but never acting like either was a bigger deal than it really was, or reflected on who they were as a person beyond the specific skill at hand.
     
  5. ghettoastronaut

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    You've provided some pretty interesting points here. I, too, am a euro-mutt going to school as a minority among a bunch of people who either have Chinese parents or were born there themselves and immigrated relatively young. I've probably mentioned in a large number of posts their irritating qualities: the immaturity, the lack of independence and independent thought. The ridiculous Chinese nationalism despite the fact most of them were never actually Chinese to begin with, but British subjects.

    I do know exactly what you mean with reference to parent relationships. This is exactly what happens with my girlfriend and her mother. My girlfriend (and her brother) were beaten, rather severely, by their mother from an extremely young age. Why? Well, she would have them recite multiplication tables and then beat them when they're wrong. Or she'd beat them for not practicing the piano enough, or whatever other offense you might imagine. The result today? My girlfriend can only count / do math in Cantonese and doesn't play the piano anymore. Phone calls? Nearly always bickering of some kind. Their conversations? She's a loser for not getting into med school and thinly veiled hints that she shouldn't be dating a white boy. Holidays? She begrudgingly visits her parents for them, but they don't do any celebrations of any kind and keep the house at 15 degrees. She talks about accruing vacation days and seniority in her career so she'll be able to spend the holidays with her parents despite the fact that it's a miserable time. I just don't get it. The foci of the thread makes it seem like there's a choice to be made between being Amy Chua and beating your kids. Not sure there is, really. As for what you said about "adult relationships", I suppose in certain ways they form adult relationships and might even be adults, but I also see a ridiculous number of mannerisms, habits, manners of speaking and so forth that are excessively childish and infantile. Notwithstanding that some of them look thirteen; they ham up the squeaky voices and cute faces and so forth. Only now, upon thinking about it, do I realize how disturbing this is. It's a behaviour I just do not see in other groups of people. Not that I want to go into the details of my work or who my employer is, but it's a rather unusual choice. How do many of these people respond to it? "My parents would never let me." Any parent should be deeply ashamed of themselves if their 22 year old son or daughter uses a sentence resembling that.

    What you said about motivation rather rings true. They rarely do anything for its own sake. They went to this particular university (and, specifically, are in this academic program) because their parents decided it for them. They work hard for report cards. They engage in extra-curricular activities so that it can go on their resume.

    The Last Psychiatrist does a good job, however, skewering much of Amy Chua's "Tiger Mother" image - <a class="postlink" href="http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2011/01/why_chinese_mothers_are_not_su.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2011/01/ ... ot_su.html</a>
    Interestingly, she later went on Stephen Colbert and talked about how the book was really a self-parody and how she learned to calm down from the Tiger Mother model of parenting. Funny how you get zero hint of this in any other form of media. It means that either Chua has realized that bragging about being a fucking psycho hasn't made her any friends and she's trying to retro-engineer her book, or the entire image presented in excerpts and articles was hammed up from the beginning to generate publicity. Frankly, my money's on a combination of both.
     
  6. Primer

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    ALT-FOCUS: How do you discipline your kids?

    By shooting them into a tissue every night; nothing says discipline like never being born.
     
  7. Stealth

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    An interesting take on the "Tiger Mother" lady by The Rawness.

    <a class="postlink" href="http://therawness.com/tiger-mom/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://therawness.com/tiger-mom/</a>
     
  8. Dcc001

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    I am simultaneously in agreement and disagreement with this article.

    I do agree that Western parents (as defined by the author) expect far too little of their children, coddle them too much and are unwilling to see that structure, discipline and high expectations are in the child's best interest.

    I do not agree that it is advisable to beat out (metaphorically) every last shred of individual desire and interest in a child, or to structure their lives so rigidly that only one goal (academic excellence) is possible, to the exclusion of all others (sports, socialization, etc.). I also strongly disagree with removing the notion of trust and privacy from the child. Children learn responsibility by being trusted...if the parents are constantly snooping and hovering and demanding then the child learns to obey, but not to trust and be trusted.

    Do children of Chinese mothers grow up to be technically superb in certain fields? Yes, most definitely. Do they grow up to be creative? Mmm...maybe not so much. Do they grow up to be leaders? Again, it's hard to lead when your whole life you've been taught nothing but subservience.
     
  9. lostalldoubt86

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    My mom used to tell me she was "disappointed in me" instead of yelling. It always felt 10 times worse.

    On a side note, I have spent so much time talking about this woman in my education classes that I've become used to the "shock" of her statements. It feels like I've been discussing this book since the beginning of time even though it's only been a few months.
     
  10. Nettdata

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    Red Foreman trumps all.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Kubla Kahn

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    From the articles Ive read, she claims that the publisher picked out this section itself and submitted it to the WSJ for publicity. She claims, as I have not read her book myself, that the rest of the book describes how one of her daughters ended up hating her and that she had changed her stance on being a Tiger Mother, as an arc to the book not a "retro-engeneering".

    My brother would be a lot better person to talk to on this subject. He works in a highly technical field here in China and has to deal with people who grew up under these conditions on a daily basis. Like just about everything else there is no fucking black and white answer and "proper" parenting is the grey area that encompasses the best of both in any given situation.
     
  12. Stealth

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    To reiterate The Rawness;

    From Wikipedia: "Chua was born in Champaign, Illinois. Her parents were ethnic Chinese from the Philippines before emigrating to the United States"

    "Chua lives in New Haven, Connecticut and is married to Yale Law School professor Jed Rubenfeld. She has two daughters, Sophia and Louisa ("Lulu").[5] Chua, whose husband is Jewish, has stated that her children can speak Chinese, and they have been "raised Jewish"."

    *raised Jewish : http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/08/RVAE1H3BSG.DTL

    I think this "Chinese Mother" is full of shit.
     
  13. tempest

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    My mom is Chinese and my dad is American. They met while my mom was in the states going to college, she was born on the mainland and grew up in Taiwan. She was in charge of all child rearing activities. While maybe not as extreme as the author's experience, my mom could be described as a Tiger Mother. Chinese lessons during the weekends when I was 6 years old, Piano lessons at the same age. (I can neither play the Piano now nor speak Chinese.) Extra homework during the school year and even more during the summer. She was always on top of my school assignments and if I did less well than was expected, I suffered endless tirades and shaming. She also employed "spankings." (She never hit me with her hands, she preferred to use a piece of a broken cutting board.) Those went on until my teens when I finally stood up to her and she realized that hitting was no longer an effective method of punishment.

    A bit of an aside, but to give you an idea of what it could be like:
    When I was 3 years old I stepped on a thumb tack in my sisters room. We both started crying so hard that we couldn't tell my mom what was wrong. In order to figure out what had happened, I got spanked until I stopped crying and could tell her that a thumb tack was embedded in my heel.

    I ended up going to a damn good (and expensive boarding school) for high school and did pretty well there. College for engineering school and that's where things began to disintegrate. I don't know if it's my Caucasian blood, American culture, or just the fact that since my mom ran everything for me up until then, but I could not get my act together. Truthfully, my heart wasn't in it and I just became an average college drop out. To say she was disappointed would be an understatement.

    Frylock's statement is pretty accurate about child/parent relationships. Even now (I'm 32) our relationship is strained. I don't kow tow to her and I refuse to be shamed into things. We fight about almost everything (it's getting a little better) and sometimes I think that I'm actually instigating fights to make a point. Though she has never explicitly said so, I'm compared to my sister all the time and often feel like a loser. (She has her Master's.) During school my mom switched tactics and tried to control me with money rather than corporal punishment. I'm pretty sure I'm a black sheep on the Chinese side of our family.

    Some day I'd like to have a somewhat normal relationship with my mom, but I doubt that will ever happen.

    I find myself resenting her a lot. Growing up I never felt like I was good enough. Anything good I did could have been better. My Chinese friends were treated pretty much the same as me, where they differ is that they've all ended up excelling in their chosen fields where I pretty much was a bum until I decided what I wanted to do and went and did it.

    I think someday I'd like to have some kids, but frankly the notion scares the shit out of me. I'm afraid that I'm going to revert to the only parenting that I know and treat my own children in the same way.
     
  14. rbz90

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    I fucking hate this kind of parenting. When I was young we moved to Singapore and I started school there. My mother is far from a Tiger-Mom but she did try some of their approaches and I don't really blame her for it. I was given extra homework and made to do math problems everyday. You know what that did? It made me hate math. I am not bad at it but I avoid that shit like fire, because I associate it with wanting to go out and play at 3pm but being forced to stay home and read the fucking math problem book until about 5 when everyone would be headed home for dinner and such./endrandaboutchildhood.

    That being said I saw some fucked up parenting and it was always the ones from some small village in the mainland of China(only about 1000million people). I remember seeing kids crying after we'd get exams back because their parents would punish them for not being the top mark of their class. THIS WAS IN GRADE FUCKING 3. Let me say that again. These kids were going to get punished because they were not the absolute best, not because their mark wasn't good.

    Eventually when I moved to Georgia I saw the same shit. One of my best friends had the shittiest parents ever and abusive dad and a cunt for a mother. Aside from the usual over pushing to do well in school, something which I don't really mind if it's within reason. I honestly think a lot of parents are a bit complacent about how well their kids do in school. I will however outline part of this kid's day just to give you an example.

    Wake up.
    Get driven to school while his parents go work at their restaurant.
    After school is done one person goes to work in the restaurant while the other brother stays at home to take care fo their youngest brother.
    Their youngest brother is 3 and still can't talk, I wonder why.
    When at home he gets constant phone calls to make sure he's not watching tv or playing on the internet, but instead he must be either constantly doing chores or studying. I've heard his mother yell at him over the phone because he said he was done studying and cleaning.

    Fun stuff. Let's not forget that in grade 8 he couldn't have a girlfriend. He wanted to date a girl and she wanted to date him, but no can do. Why? Because his parents couldn't find out she was white. His mom had said to him "If you ever bring back a non-Chinese girl I'm not your mother."....Yeah.

    Last I heard his oldest brother beat the shit out of his dad and went to join the army.

    Fuck that style of overbearing parenting. I'm not saying coddle your kids, I'm not saying don't push them into things that might better them but holy shit, use some fucking digression. I've made myself angry just typing this.
     
  15. cynismus

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    Yeah, this is ridiculous shit. I saw this a while ago and was just shaking my head when I thought about all the kids I've seen that have been products of this kind of parenting. Now that I'm in grad school, I see it even more. DrFrylock touched on this, but the most troubling result of Tiger Mommying is that their kids can't think creatively.

    Math problems? Fine. Physics? Fine.

    However, if you ask them in any way to think creatively or analyze something, they are fucking lost. It's sad, really, because these kids are GREAT number crunchers with loads of potential, but why do you need someone to do calculus when you have a computer?

    I'm in this Excel modeling class right now (aside - not as challenging as I thought it would be), but basic model-building is like Greek to these kids. They don't know how to read a problem, understand the issue, and create something that will help solve the problem and present alternative scenarios. All they know how to do is read the problem and calculate. Guess what? In the real world, that shit is NOT going to happen.
     
  16. jrussellmikkelsen

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    Some seriously fascinating points and stories in this thread.

    The only experience I have with any sort of Tiger Mothering is from a close high school friend. Her parents are Chinese born, she's American born. While she doesn't hate or even fight with her parents anymore, her relationship with them is a mess. Same goes for her syblings. They're all grown women, over 30, and they still keep their social lives a total secret from the parents.

    My friend just ended a 5-year relationship with a man who never met her parents because he was white. Not once. About 3 years in her mom figured out that she was seeing someone but that's as far as that conversation went. Also, she has a younger brother who is the most socially inept person I ever met that didn't have down syndrome. He's fine academically, broken socially. You will innocently assume he is mentally handicapped if you ever shake his hand. She does what she can for him but the damage is done.

    That said, I do agree with some of the ideas presented in the Journal's article. For example:

    It is impossible for everyone to be "the best" and the result of this belief is illustrated well in RBZ's post:
    However, I do agree with the concept of assuming every child is capable and competent-- of assuming that your child can learn anything with practice-- as opposed to assuming your child has a learning disability or that their teacher sucks or the school sucks etc. And though I know my child won't excel in everything they try, I'm not going to let them give up simply because it's hard. And I'm not going to run around looking for people or things to blame when my 6 year old isn't reading at a second grade level.
     
  17. Angel_1756

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    I'm the product of a "Tiger Mother" (with a Western father), while my boyfriend was raised in a Western household. My siblings and I took piano and violin lessons, Chinese school on Saturdays, we did math problems on car rides to keep us entertained and we all excelled in school. We were teased if we did poorly, or called lazy or stupid. To this day, if I play a challenging piece on the piano for her and miss a few notes, my mother tells me that I suck. Does it make me angry? No, it makes me play it again until I don't suck.

    My Western boyfriend, on the other hand, had parents who never checked his homework, never pushed him to improve himself, never structured his childhood. He constantly worries that he can't do things that are beyond his knowledge base, figuring that he can't learn more than he knows. It's heartbreaking.

    I love my mother, respect her and admire her. Our relationship is amazing and I value her input into my life choices. That doesn't mean that she still makes my life choices - she trusts that she's done a good enough job raising me that my decisions will be, for the most part, good ones. The fact that I've finally earned her respect after all these years is definitely worth the few missed sleepovers of my youth.
     
  18. jrussellmikkelsen

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    I have so many questions, I hope you don't mind.

    -Do you respect and admire your boyfriend? What appeals to you about him?

    -Many of the other posters have basically said that they can never be good enough for their Tiger Mother, which makes me wonder if they don't feel loved by their mom. You indicate the opposite. But, did you ALWAYS feel loved? You say you "finally earned her respect," at what age? Did you feel worthless or unworthy before?

    -How does she tell you that you suck? "You suck"? Is it less direct? More Backhanded? More encouraging?

    -Is everything put in that black and white light of either you suck or you don't suck? Is there any middle ground? Is there a level you can reach above "you don't suck" such as, "you're good"?

    -Does she want you to be good at everything or just not sucky?

    -Are you allowed to excel in other areas than piano and violin and school? Are sports allowed at all or are they simply not a priority? If you choose to put time and effort into something not on your mom's list, are you allowed to suck at it-- allowed by your mom? I understand that YOU don't want to suck at it but will there be consequences if you do?

    ...that's a start.
     
  19. M4A1

    M4A1
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    Experienced Idiot

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    This is the reason that I will not date an Asian woman again. I am 0 for 2. They were both raised in the US, parents immigrated,(Thai and Filipino in case anyone gives a shit). They suffer from AMS. Asian Mother Syndrome. They're never thin enough, smart enough, pretty enough, accomplsihed enough, etc. Oh yeah, don't bring home a male who's not Asian(White guys sometimes being the only acceptable exception). Makes them fucked in the head, which in turn, fucks the Signifigant Other in the long run.

    So, yeah, no more Asian chicks for me.

    The only exception I'd be willing to consider if they're more than 2nd generation, the Americanization would almost be complete by that time.
     
  20. Angel_1756

    Angel_1756
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    The Big Four-Oh

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    The T-dot O-dot one-of-a-kind
    I do respect and admire my boyfriend - he works hard and is trying his damnedest to overcome an unsupportive upbringing. He reminds me a lot of my father (yup, I'm that girl). He's not always the most driven person in the world, but that's where we compliment one another. He's the laid-back to my Type A.

    We always felt loved in our house. There is a real distinction between love and respect with our family - you will always be loved, but you have to earn respect. I never felt worthless or unworthy - just like I maybe wasn't living up to my full potential.

    Mom'll come right out and say "Oh man, you really suck. Get back to work." She's only half kidding, and she's usually right. That said, she was never unsupportive things we wanted to do. My brother took karate and played soccer. My sister took art classes. I'm a party planner on the side. But our priorities were really well laid out for us as children (School, Family, Music), and we appreciated the structure. We also know that she and our father sacrificed a hell of a lot for us to be able to do all those things, so we worked our tails off to earn the privilige of those experiences.

    My sister's strengths do not lie in the sciences, but in teaching children. She had the goal of being a teacher in her head when she was 8 and kept working to achieve it. If, fifteen years ago, you had asked my mother what she thought of my sister's skill set, she'd have shaken her head and not said much. Now, she's proud of her accomplishments. With our mother, we don't necessarily need to follow the path she picks, but you'd better succeed if you choose your own.

    I'm not saying my upbringing is for everyone. My siblings and I are all highly motivated, driven and goal-oriented people, so constant pressure to succeed worked for us.