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Monday, 14 March 2016

From The Siliconeer: Why I wrote 'Beyond The Tiger Mom'

Here's an article that I wrote for The Siliconeer, an Indian-American publication, about my motivation for writing "Beyond the Tiger Mom."

And here are some bits from it...

Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book you want to read, and no one has written it, then you must write it.” Since I really wanted to read a book that reflects the real life dilemmas and decisions of parents like myself – parents who have been exposed to East and West, parents who draw on multiple cultures when making decisions for their children – I began the long project of writing Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age.
To start with, let me tell you a little bit about my story.  In early 2010, my husband, children and I packed up all our stuff, waved goodbye to our cramped apartment in Manhattan, and flew across the world to Singapore.
This wasn’t my first cross-continental move: I was born and raised in India, but as a teenager, I moved to the U.S. for college, and then stayed on there for graduate school and work. I taught in private and public American schools for a decade, and I gave birth to both my children in the U.S. But after fifteen years in the U.S., I found myself hungering for “home.” I was yearning for tropical sun and heat, for the sounds of Tamil and Hindi, for idli-dosa breakfasts, and for the color and chaos of India. Since home – India – wasn’t really an option for my husband in terms of his career, we settled on Singapore, and so began the next phase in our global journey.
I began teaching at an international school in Singapore where most of my students were either South or East Asian. And over my time in Singapore, I became well acquainted with many local Singaporeans with children in the local school system. Needless to say, parents in Singapore differed greatly from the parents I had worked with in the U.S. The differences were dramatic: parents here had totally different ideas about discipline, math education, the role of memory, the goals of education, the role of competition… and the list goes on. And you know what?  A lot of the things that these parents were doing were working really well.
So, to cut a long story short, I began writing Beyond the Tiger Mom to give Asian parents a voice and to offer all global parents suggestions on how to combine the best of Eastern and Western approaches to parenting and education.
Each chapter in the book revolves around a question that I found myself asking as I tried to understand Singaporean/Asian approaches to parenting and to discover the best way to blend Eastern and Western parenting and educational approaches.
For instance, one of the first things I noticed when I arrived on this island was the absolute obsession that mothers seemed to have with math education. “What do you do for math?” was a question that mothers on the island loved to discuss in great detail. In the U.S., I had found that early childhood education revolved largely around language (reading/speaking) and social skills; however, here in Singapore, mothers seemed determined to create a “math-rich home” for their young children and give their kids the best mathematical head start they possibly could. And all the data suggest that these approaches work really well. When it comes to math education, the world has a lot to learn from Asian moms!
Cover of “Beyond the Tiger Mom.”
Cover of “Beyond the Tiger Mom.”

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