Trouble in Hong Kong…

an outsider's perspective of hong kong

tiger mothers

with 8 comments

one of the reasons why i fear being a mother is the fact that i think i would one of those chinese mothers described in amy chua’s book battle hymn of the tiger mother. i am extremely capable of almost all of that – everything you can imagine of a chinese woman – manipulative, competitive and driven, i am that – read this article about tiger mothers

to be born chinese i have come to realized certain things about how we raise children in general.besides the jewish people, us the chinese are the second biggest diaspora.almost everywhere in the world, chinese people are discriminated – we are second class citizens. i can tell you in malaysia, we have to work three times as hard just to prove ourselves. there is no such thing as an easy ride for us and therefore that insecurity made us very competitive and paranoid about losing out.

also the world has become so competitive these days, we worry that our children will not be good enough to be who they want to be. as a mother who wants to see their child turned away at the door for not having the right qualifications and skills. opportunities wait for no one.

on the other hand, now that i am older – i see the crack in the system.

whenever chinese parents get together to brag about their children’s achievements, no one really talks about raising happy contented children. growing up being pushed to the edge, sometimes it makes me feel as though i could never be good enough for anything. i am always chasing for more.

it took me a long time to tell myself, i need to run at my own pace and not based on anyone’s pace.

my good friend dian said this – contentment is understated. not many people realize this but contentment is attainable at every stage of your life. that is so much more important than being happy because the ups and downs of being happy and unhappy is far too erratic.

the depth of this statement sent shivers down my spine.


Written by smalltroubleinhk

February 7, 2011 at 4:42 pm

8 Responses

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  1. I don’t doubt what you say about Chinese mothers, especially in regard to the situation of the Chinese in Malaysia. (I used to have a maternal aunt who lived in Singapore and then KL, plus couple of other cousins there and in Penang or somewhere, and two grand cousins in Singapore. I lived with auntie for a while so this isn’t a complete unknown to me.)

    I’ve read Chua’s piece and ended up in a gazillion conversations about it. The bizarre thing is, Chua is actually (and was writing) the archetypal JEWISH mother – most people especially in this part of world wouldn’t recognise this, not unless you’ve spent time with Ashkenazi Jews. So all these people are yapping away about Chinese mothers when it’s stark-naked about Ashkenzai Jewish mothers. “The goyim (non-Jews) don’t compete,” the words of those Jewish mothers ringing in my ear right now.

    Truth is, all mothers have something of what Chua was writing about. My parents and grandparents (both sides) are typical overachievers by any definition. Many of my other folks are as well. They have many of the qualities that Chua described, by degrees and turns. But then, Chua admitted in her piece that she was using ‘Chinese’ in a loose way. What is not loose is that she was bragging about HERSELF more than anything else. Her kids aren’t her children; they’re her property. As a trained lawyer myself like Chua, I find Chua’s position reasons to be very weak.

    Yes, mum did go to those mum gatherings where all the bragging went on. Left, right and centre come fast and furious about how Tai-man can play the violin at age 0.345 years or Lai-lai can somersault through quantum mechanics and integrated algebra or Wing-lok could hit 27.6543 grade A’s in one exam sitting. About me, mum basically said if I’m happy with what I do or not do, then that’s all she cared: if I’m happy, mission accomplished, because she knew I’d learn more, faster, better and cheaper when I’m happy. And mum was right. I don’t have to look too far: my biking skills tell me so.

    About your friends contentment remark, I agree. But I’m a prosaic soul and, to me, contentment is a form of happiness. Indeed, contentment feeds off happiness, and vice versa. Contentment is in being able to be happy with the ups and downs of life, just as the passion of being in love is in the risk of loving someone who might not love us back for long, or at all.


    February 8, 2011 at 4:36 am

  2. it’s funny how you are increasingly revealing more and more about yourself as time goes by. well at least now, i know you are lawyer. hahaha. but then i find too boring if we try and box something and label ourselves as something…


    February 8, 2011 at 5:10 am

  3. likewise, wished i could write like you!!!


    February 8, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    • You’re already a fantastic writer! Your writing style is your most endearing, most unselfconscious quality.


      February 8, 2011 at 10:25 pm

  4. thank you so much. you made my day.. i’ll be floating the whole day!!!


    February 9, 2011 at 1:29 am

    • No, no, no, you’re not allowed to float and have fun like that. You must learn to fly to air-superiority combat readiness first before you can have such fun as floating. (He-he-he)


      February 9, 2011 at 2:04 am

  5. wah.. so shao lin ah….


    February 9, 2011 at 2:18 am

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