Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Battle Hymn of my own “Tiger Parents”

Tiger mom and dad's favorite - the bamboo cane.
Last night, I finally found time to visit my former neighbor at their new home a few streets away. The last time we met was more slightly more than a year ago after Vanessa gave birth to baby Mackenzie. Then off we went for Japanese food.

Throughout dinner, I can’t help to notice how cute and adorable baby Mac is and how well he behave. He basically leaves his mom and dad to enjoy their sashimi and garlic fried rice without much hassle, he don’t throw tantrum, and he don’t seek for their full attention annoyingly. He was happy with his snacks and toy. What a good boy! I can’t help but to praise baby Mac but Vanessa was quick to point out that they do smack him lightly and lovingly if he don’t behave well.
Selfie with Baby Mac and Vanessa.
“Thankfully we are not in Sweden or you will end up in prison,” I told her and we burst out laughing out loud. We were referring to the case of Malaysia’s tourism director and his wife who are now serving prison time in Sweden for using “force” to educate their three children. While it may be viewed as wrong to cane or spank a child for educational purposes in Western countries, there are many arguments in the Asian society about the pros and cons of having Tiger Mother or Father at home.
I’ll leave the arguments to the specialists but what I do see with my own eyes is that parents who do not hesitate to cane or spank their children, and of course not to the extent of abuse, do produce children who are much more well behaved and achieve better results in school than parents who raised their kids with Dr. Spock’s permissive child rearing attitudes.
I will not hesitate to admit, and actually, I feel proud to admit that I am the product of Tiger Mother and Tiger Father, to borrow the term from famous author Amy Chua in her worldwide bestselling book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” published in 2011. Cane, made of bamboo and the feather duster was some sort of hanging “decoration” in many parts of our house when I was growing up. It is the same too in the houses of my long list of cousins. Hiding them behind the cupboard, especially after getting the report card from school was a must but somehow, our parents seems to have endless supply of the canes.
“Why this careless mistake?”, “Why it is only 98 and not 100?”, “Why it is an A- and not A+ for your composition writing?” was the three classic and constant questions asked when we present our examination papers and result to them. And deep in my heart, I knew exactly how many strokes of cane I’ll get from either mom or dad the moment I’m home after getting those examination rolls every semester. Sometimes, on an unlucky month when the horoscope stars aren’t good, I’ll get the caning from both mom and dad. But after he had cooled down, I know I’ll always get a box of Lego bricks from him. Dad's stick always comes with carrot.
When I was small, I hate it but the hatred made only helped to make me resolved to do better the next time. No more careless mistakes. No more A-. All must be good, presentable and perfect so that my parents won’t be upset. However, there were times that I felt I am so unlucky compared to some of my friends whom parents not only didn’t cane them but reward them or gave them a pat saying “well done” even for their not so good results and I’ll start my mini (but often failed) rebellion. Nevertheless, today, I would say I was wrong for the rebellion and I am very grateful for having my Tiger Mother and Tiger Daddy.
It is not only for examination results that we will get caning. Caning applies for misbehavior in public, throwing tanturms during mealtimes, for not showing respect to the elders and well as for anything that deemed morally wrong. If we don’t behave well when visiting their friends or throwing tantrum in the shopping center if a toy that we want was denied, the thing that we won’t fail to hear from them were these few magical words: “wait till you get home”. (You can imagine what will happen at home.)
Whether having a Tiger Mom and Tiger Father is good or bad is up to one to judge and up to the experts to debate. However, to my siblings and me, we knew what our Tiger Dad and Mom did was for our good and it helped to shape our discipline and success today. From Tiger Mom, Amy Chua: Tough love can also be unconditional love.

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