As a father of one, and having studied and worked in the US in my teens, alone in a city where I had absolutely no friends, the arrest of Sun An-tso (孫安佐) — the only child of two well-known Taiwanese actors — on suspicion of threatening to commit a school shooting has brought back a stream of memories and sparked emotions.
The time I spent studying abroad coincided with the economic boom of the four Asian tigers. China had not yet opened up to the world. At that time, students from Asian nations who were studying in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or European countries were often seen as synonymous with ostentatious wealth.
Compared with local students and other international students who used their money sparingly, kept a low profile and who worked part-time jobs, many rich Asian kids spent their days speeding around in flashy cars, eating expensive meals and buying things in shopping malls. It seemed as if no matter much money they spent, they could never spend it all.
Although my family was quite well off, I spent my time abroad becoming friends with locals, working part-time jobs and saving my money, while distancing myself from those show-off foreign students.
I also saw how many of the children belonging to Taiwan and Hong Kong’s rich and famous fell by the wayside.
The “tiger parents” of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea demand that their children bow to their wishes when choosing their schools, subjects and friends, but they often put their kids under so much pressure that some turn to drugs, join gangs or even kill themselves.
Faced with over-bearing, manipulative Asian “tiger moms,” these children often learn how to pull the wool over their parents’ eyes. To make matters worse, such parents generally only value their children’s achievements in certain subjects, so that they can brag about them and compare them with children of a similar family background in the same elevated social strata.
Meanwhile, these parents disregard the need for their children to have healthy and diverse social and interpersonal relationships, so their character development often takes a wrong turn.
To make matters worse, many Asian parents pay scant attention to international news or the laws and regulations of the countries where their children are studying, and when their children get in trouble with the law, they think it is a small problem that can be solved with money.
Tiger moms often overlook their children’s real needs and put them in a situation where they are forced to hoodwink their parents.
Sun has a tiger mom whose apparent contrasting indulgence and control, and her lack of concern over school shootings in the US, are a replay of cases I witnessed years ago.
It would be a good if the local media and the government take this case as an opportunity to think about whether too many celebrities are given a stage in the local media on which to display their ignorance and extravagance, and their dictatorial and deviant ideas about rearing children.
Genzi Lim is a freelance teacher and writer.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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