I thought it’d be valuable to examine the common behaviors of the “Tiger” Asian parenting style that most Asian 1st generation youth are familiar with. In this article, I will cross-reference each behavior with my years of studying successful people, including my wisdom from hundreds of books, videos, films, articles, and events.
Ever wonder what do they do correctly? What do they do wrong? Now, you’ll know (or at least we’ll get closer to the truth).
Hyper-focus on academics – Let’s be clear; some emphasis on getting into a good college is valuable. Kevin Hart failed to apply for college because his parents and friends never mentioned it to him. Getting into a good school can set you up with the skills and credentials to succeed in life. Nowadays, successful people have been claiming college doesn’t provide a return on investment for most people and isn’t worth it. A lot of what you’d need for a skill can be learned through the internet. But a lot of jobs (doctor, engineer, physical therapist) still require education. Most second and third-world countries still depend on getting into a great school to change their lives. And even if you live in a developed country, college is an experience and rite of passage that young people usually don’t want to skip. But as you’ll see, too much of a focus can have negative side effects.
An under-emphasis on social skills and athletics – Most (not all) Asian parents under-emphasize the importance of developing social skills, emotional intelligence, and athletic performance, so much so that the extreme ones will forbid their children from leaving the house or hanging out with friends. By neglecting your health and fitness, you’re putting yourself at a mental and physical energy disadvantage. By failing to enhance your social skills, your dating and career will fail to reach their potential since almost everything involves effective human interaction and empathy.
A lack of positive re-enforcement – Generally speaking (not all of them do this), many Asian parents withhold any praise for their children when they achieve small or monumental accomplishments. That is not good! Successful people thrive on following their passion, which involves getting small and large rewards and celebrating their achievements. Unfortunately, some part of the Asian culture has taught this generation the lie that the best method of parenting is to ignore and neglect their children’s successes. That will only serve to dis-incentivize them!
A push to perform at activities the child doesn’t enjoy – We all need to develop some level of discipline to do what we don’t want to so that we can have successful lives. But an extreme focus on getting a child to practice and train for hours a day on an activity they don’t enjoy is a poor methodology for long-term success! If you study the likes of successful people like Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, Michael Jordan, Warren Buffett, or Tony Hawk, they absolutely loved what they did. They loved winning and performing their hobby that they’d do it for free. Since the intrinsic enjoyment of a task is vital to reaching the top echelons of success, these children are limited.
A focus on training discipline – This one is great to have! Asian immigrant children often have astronomically higher willpower because all the things their parents make them do (piano practice, tennis practice, academic summer camp, internship, SAT prep, chores) build their discipline. Science has shown that willpower is a muscle that gets stronger with training. Other ethnicities can make a false assumption that Asian Americans are less lazy and more talented than other ethnicities at academics; it may look like that, but they’re often just as lazy (and complain a lot), and their culture and parents have forced the laziness out of them! One thing I’m most proud of is my work ethic!