Health Care Dialogue
Kim S. Hwang, PsyD
Dear Dr. Hwang, “What do you think about media that supports that Asian Mothers are,” Tiger Mom’s?” Do you think this image is true?”
Dear Tiger Mom Inquiry:
The United States media supports, sensationalizes and promotes extreme kinds of distorted stereotypes, which absolutely work to the disadvantage of Asian women and Asian parents in a variety of contexts. Too often, false images portray the view of the, “Tiger Mom,” as extreme, which promotes a pathological and almost sick view of Asian women as Asian mothers. The truth is, that most parents genuinely care about their children’s success and use a variety of parenting techniques. It is inevitable that most parents want their children to experience a sense of accomplishment so they are able to go out into the world, prepared to do well.
The image of the, “Tiger Mother,” I believe you are referring to is an image which, Asian mothers specifically and very intentionally drive their children into the ground with regard to academic success. The image of the, “Tiger Mother,” is negative because it promotes ideas that all Asian mothers are like this, which is simply untrue. Again, dramatized stereotypes are harmful to everyone. Anytime, the dominant perception of a stereotype becomes a reality in which Asian women are compared to, it risks minimizing the broad range of parenting skills that Asian families use to parent. In addition, it almost entirely negates that many Asian mothers are highly skilled when it comes to parenting and are able to use a variety of views, both culturally inclusive and modern simultaneously. The image of the “Tiger Mom,” is exaggerated and it only serves to view Asian women as either passive or aggressive.
Stereotypes of the, “Tiger Mom,” edifies the idea that Asian mothers only use shame, fear and abandonment as primary techniques to push children into academic compliance. The media as we know tends to lock on to extreme images and then promotes these images for affect, rather than accuracy. Fiction or Non-Fiction, some images, may be true to some extent, but transference of the overall image onto all Asian Mothers is simply inaccurate and only serves to discredit Asian women’s abilities to mother using a variety of ways that are healthy, functional, nurturing and loving. Some Asian mothers, may encourage their children to do well academically, but there many ways in which Asian mothers choose to parent. There are multiple ways to encourage the value of academics. Parents who choose to help their children achieve academic success is no more of an Asian issue, than it is a White issue.