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A sentence that can mean so much if you truly know the story behind it.
Recently, I've started watching Youtube videos regarding psychology and suddenly stumbled upon an interesting channel that discusses criminal psychology. It was intriguing, to say the least.
I learned about how detectives approach suspects and how they manage to get a confession from them. Starting from learning about the suspect's background, pretending to sympathize with their situation, slowly trying to uncover the motives behind the crime, and finally getting their confession. Most of the time, it's a long, taxing, and excruciating process that requires a lot of patience and skills.
But that's not what I want to talk about today. Rather, I'd like to discuss a certain criminal's possible motive, one that can be relatable for most of us here. I'm talking about tiger parenting.
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You might've heard about Jennifer Pan. She was charged with first-degree murder of her mother, attempted murder of her father, and a conspiracy to commit murder. The case shocked everyone, especially Asian parents who were known for their "harsh" parent style.
Jennifer, her boyfriend, and three other men conspired to kill her parents while trying to disguise it as a robbery gone wrong. From the results of the investigation, the main motives of the perpetrators were romantic relationships, monetary gain, and allegations of child abuse.
In her interrogation with the detective in charge, she told him about her upbringing. How she was made to take piano lessons since four years old, how she took figure skating classes almost every day, how she suffered an injury that prevents her from achieving her Olympic figure skating champion dream, and how her parents restricted her from anything they deemed unnecessary, such as having a boyfriend, going to a club, visiting a friend's cottage and other activities that is quite commonly linked to teenagers or young adults.
Trying to fulfill their high expectations, she forged her report cards and university acceptance letter. She tried to make them believe that she was excelling on the academic path, and was striving towards a bright future when the reality is the exact opposite. Her grades wast mostly B, she failed calculus in her final year and wasn't able to graduate high school, let alone attend a university. She made up stories about getting a scholarship and how she plans to move forward on her academic journey, all the while she's actually a different life, one where she was having a relationship and worked odd jobs to earn money.
Ultimately, her parents found out about it and things got worse for her. She was denied access to her phone, her laptop, and her relationship with her boyfriend were forcefully ended, or so they thought. When she finally gained more freedom, she planned the whole thing and we know what happened next.
Watching her documentary and reading the news about this case has got me thinking about the tiger parenting style which has been normalized by many parents, especially Asian parents.
I am not saying that what she did is right, it's certainly wrong.
However, I'd like to discuss one of the motives that led her to commit the disgusting crime: the tiger parenting style which we can certainly relate to, either as a child or as a parent.
Growing up in an Asian household is certainly no easy feat. We are expected to excel in almost everything for most of us, whether it be academics, sports, music, or even art. I for one am glad that my parents' expectations are not that excessive now, even though they used to be.
We often hear the stereotypes that Asian kids are always the smartest and how Asian parents only want their children to be doctors, lawyers, or engineers. We even hear jokes like how Asian households have a different grading scale like this:
Though not that literal, this is a hit close to home for some people.
For some kids, the tiger parenting style may lead to a successful life, one that's achieved by sacrificing their relationship with friends, their enjoyable youth, or even hobbies that they truly enjoy. But for others, it will simply lead to nothing but stress, mental illness, depression, or even death.
I'm also concerned about the emergence of a mixed outcome, as we may not be aware of how dangerous they can be. They might be smart, sociable, and good at everything that they're doing, yet they lack some features which make someone a 'normal' and might develop a split personality, psychotic hobbies, or even a sociopathic tendency.
In the worst-case scenario, there might be a resurgence of another Jennifer Pan.
I know that our parents want the best for us. That they never wanted us to do hard labor and wishes for us to have a great job, where we earn a lot of money while not having our hands dirty.
But sometimes, the expectation that some of us carry feels too much of a burden. Please, communicate with us and listen to our voices. We don't want to disappoint you, we just want to have a chance at trying to fulfill our personal dreams.
Most, if not all parents certainly want the best for their children. But in some cases, parents can forget that their children might not have the same interests or capabilities as them.
Not long ago, there's a viral video of a Peking University (PKU) associate professor talking about his daughter's poor grades. He claimed himself to be a prodigy and explained that both he and his wife graduated from PKU, one of China's top universities.
He felt hopeless as his daughter's academic performance is at the bottom of her class despite him tutoring and giving her extra homework every day. And as the days go by, the daughter became anxious and depressed which eventually led the professor to accept the fact that his daughter is not academically gifted. In the end, he stopped giving her the high-pressure study plan and try to focus on her other strength.
It's not a secret that our current social standards are flawed. There is a very big emphasis on academic performance, and how a good university degree is viewed as the key to success. While it's not totally wrong, we need to remember the many aspects of life and see things from different perspectives, especially from our children's.
Let me recall a good quote criticizing today's toxic education culture:
"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." - credited to Albert Einstein
A kid aspiring to be an athlete might not perform well in Maths and Chemistry, and one who's dreaming to be a chef certainly doesn't need to excel in Social Studies or Sports.
Each child is wonderful in their own way, and I certainly hope that parents or soon-to-be parents can consider this before making their plans.
Hopefully, every parent can guide their little ones towards a happy future; one in which they can look back to their childhood and adolescence with a smile on their face and a grateful heart, all because of the parents who truly love and understand them.