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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

When tiger kids become parents

Credit: JooHee Yoon/New York Times

The son of tiger parents, lawyer Ryan Park wants to raise his daughters to be “happy, confident, and kind,” he writes in the New York Times. They don’t have to be academic superstars.

His parents pushed him to achieve — or else. After graduating from Harvard Law, he clerked for two U.S. Supreme Court justices. His wife, also Asian-American, is a physician.

. . .  like many second-generation immigrant overachievers, I’ve spent decades struggling with the paradox of my upbringing. Were the same childhood experiences that long evoked my resentment also responsible for my academic and professional achievements? And if so, was the trade-off between happiness and success worth it?

Immigrants’ children tend to be driven to succeed, writes Park. But that zeal fades by the third generation.

When he became a parent, he decided that his children “will feel valued and supported. They will know home as a place of joy and fun. They will never wonder whether their father’s love is conditioned on an unblemished report card.”

Most second-generation Asian-Americans parents aren’t tiger parents, writes Park. “Rather, studies show that we’re largely abandoning traditional Asian parenting styles in favor of a modern, Western approach focused on developing open and warm relationships with our children.”

That may mean “fewer virtuoso violinists and neurosurgeons” in the next generation, he concedes.

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