By John Kim
Even as the Tiger Mom debate has started to fizzle out, she’s still making some press. It seems that Singapore’s prime minister has caught some flak for denouncing tiger mother-style parenting. I couldn’t help but wonder if things are looking hopeful for overburdened children in Asia. It’s no small feat that the prime minister of Singapore, whose country has experienced a great deal of success arguably as a result of tiger mothering, would suggest parents “let your children have their childhood…Instead of growing up balanced and happy, he grows up narrow and neurotic. No homework is not a bad thing. It’s good for young children to play, and to learn through play.” While this speech may reflect signs of hope that over-strict parenting is in decline, a part of me still fears that the Tiger Mom still lurks in the shadows.
The article goes on to suggest that tiger parenting might be putting Singapore’s economy at risk since these days, it is less manufacturing and more innovation ( or “knowledge economies”) that are driving prosperity. Many look to the success of Apple, now the most profitable company in the world, whose innovative vision came from a person who did not graduate college. China seems to have caught wind of the economic value of innovation, too, creating policies and providing awards to help spur the filing of patents, which have skyrocketed in recent years.
So then one needs to ask, is it really healthy children that is the motivation for this change of tone? Is it a populace of well-adjusted children who are willing to eschew the top spots in university or high paying jobs in order to achieve a healthy work life balance? Maybe not. I wonder if rather than reflecting an interest in develop social, emotionally healthy individuals, this denouncing of tiger moms is really a reflection of the awareness by countries that they need to adapt to the new economy of knowledge and innovation. But then it begs the question – can you manufacture innovation?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A freelance website producer/developer, student of psychology, aspiring writer, I’m a recent transplant to Southern California and am passionate about Asian/Asian American issues.