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True Story: Being Judged For Being An Expat “Tiger Mom” In Singapore

By Finder blogger: Andrea McKenna


I was recently at an event supporting my daughter’s sports program.

I used to be pretty good at this sport, having represented the United States as part of a developmental/all-star team for a few tours. At one point in the evening after learning this about me, one mom suggested I was a Tiger Mom. “You seem like the mom who will yell if they drop the ball.”

I was ultimately offended. Here’s why:

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I never push my daughter other than when encouraging her to participate with the other kids. She hangs on to me a lot. I was not like this as a kid, but I appreciate that she is not me and not as aggressive or competitive as I was in sports at the young age of four.

Point: I let my daughter be who she is and not who I am (or was), regardless of how good I was at one time.

And you know what? She has fun. That is all I care about.

To be fair, if you ever played said sport with me, you might remember that yes, I would get pissed off if you dropped the ball. If I dropped the ball I would be super pissed at myself as well (and would be fair game for similar criticism)!

But this was adult competitive ball.

Here I’m talking about little kids learning the sport. Kids learn from mistakes and losing is learning. At the kids’ level, it’s all about learning.

See also: True Story: The Most Important Thing My Domestic Helper Has Taught My Kids

Now about this Tiger Mom thing.

The definition of Tiger Mom is fairly negative according to Wikipedia:

“Tiger mother is a term which refers to a strict or demanding mother who pushes her children to be successful academically by attaining high levels of scholastic and academic achievement, using methods regarded as typical of childrearing in East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia to the detriment of the child’s social, physical, psychological and emotional well-being. The term is coined by Yale law professor Amy Chua in her memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.”

If you’ve ever seen “The Joy Luck Club” you might recall how abhorrent it was to see the kids treated this way by their moms.

Of course, we learned throughout the film that the moms loved their daughters are much as anyone. They just had a different parenting style.

Part of the Tiger Mom/Mother mentality is to achieve in sports to the extent that it will make them the best and well-rounded to do well in all areas of life. One friend of mine here from UK suggested that it is not an insult but rather a compliment that you care so much about our child’s wellbeing and achievements.

I try to digest that, but the stripes just don’t fit me.

I know a lot of expats here have their kids in sports and recreation. I am sure everyone has their own styles for encouraging or making their kids participate.

So far, for me, it’s a family thing. Daddy helps coach and for now Momma is in the First Aid group to help with games. Maybe I will coach later once my daughter gets settled in to the sport. Like I said, I just want her to have fun.

So, I will refute the Tiger Mom name for now. It’s not me. Not for my daughter. “Don’t drop the ball!” is now more like, “Have fun! It’s the best game in the world!”


About Andrea McKenna

Andrea McKenna Brankin is journalist and author from the United States who lives a full life with bipolar disorder. Her book, Bipolar Phoenix, is awaiting a publishing contract. She is also currently a volunteer at the DaySpring Residential Treatment Centre for teen girls in Singapore, providing befriending-family support, therapeutic writing and rugby coaching.


Related articles:

True Story: This Babysitter In Singapore Drugged Children?!

True Story: How This American Expat In Singapore Reacted To A Surprise Act Of Kindness

3 Things You’re Doing For Your Child… That You Really Shouldn’t


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