By Yvonne Le
Everyone knows that “tiger moms” are the types of parents you see yelling at their children about a low A or getting second place in a spelling bee. Obviously this is not a default setting for all asian parents, but from a personal standpoint, I’ve experienced both types of moments where my own parents fit the stereotype but also the heartfelt times that they’ve broken it.
I remember a time when I signed up to play in a talent show, but my dad had supervised my piano practice and promptly determined that I was definitely set to fail and it scared me from participating and I ended up dropping out. “Don’t try it if you can’t do it.” While this value scared me for a good portion of my youth, it slowly began to dawn on me, as I got older, what it really meant and how my father really wasn’t the “tiger dad” that he made himself out to be. The meaning behind this tough love was that he wanted me to pursue my highest potential before presenting my skills and talents to other people. He wasn’t trying to protect “family honor” or his own, he wanted my first performance to be one that I was proud of– no mistakes, plenty of confidence. He wasn’t discouraging or insulting my skills from overseeing my practice, he knew that if I presented what I had at that point in time, I would have never gained enough confidence to play again.
At the beginning of this story, I stated that he had determined me “not good enough”, but in reality, I had missed notes, hesitation, uneven articulation; and all of these mistakes were a week before the show. How could I have fixed them beforehand? One could argue that if I had performed, “failure is the best teacher”. But if I had thought that those mistakes were acceptable at that point in time, I would not have become the perfectionist I am now. I would not have nitpicked and practiced more until I was proud of how I sounded.
Now, I’m a pianist and violinist, and I’ve made a reputation as the concertmaster of my school orchestra as well as a 7-time all-county participant. I am proud of the musician that I have become today and it’s all because my dad was the “tiger parent” that he was supposed to be.