For my senior prom, my father finally said I could go – as long as I was home by 9 P.M.! That was around the time that most people were heading out. When I was little I was so mad at them all the time. ‘Why can’t I do this?’ ‘Why are there so many rules?’ But looking back now, my parents gave me the foundation to have so many choices in life.
I saw my parents come over. They were immigrants, they had no money. My dad wore the same pair of shoes, I had some ugly clothes growing up, and I never had any privileges. In some ways, I think the person that I am now, I think it’s good that I had that kind of tough upbringing.
Happiness is not always through success. Equally, the constant pursuit of success is sure unhappiness. But we have to find the balance. My own thoughts are that parenting is very personal. And we all feel enormous insecurity about parenting. What are they going to think of us 20 years down the line?
Oddly enough, I’m not a particularly judgmental person. I just don’t have a lot of filtering when I’m in ‘tiger mother’ mode. I say what comes into my head.
I say ‘I love you’ to my daughters every day.
It may be the optimist in me, but I think America has a uniquely powerful and capacious glue internally. The American identity has always been ethnically and religiously neutral, so within one generation you have Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Jamaican-Americans – they feel American. It’s a huge success story.
Parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done. I tried to find the balance between the strict, traditional Chinese way I was raised, which I think can be too harsh, and what I see as a tendency in the West to be too permissive and indulgent. If I could do it all again, I would, with some adjustments.
I do believe that when your child does poorly on a test, your first step should not necessarily be to attack the teacher or the school’s curriculum. It should be to look at the idea that, maybe, the child didn’t work hard enough.