Parenting anxieties abound for Asian immigrants at the intersection of cultural transformation and persistent inequality.
Immigrant parents embrace the American dream that their children can achieve a brighter future in the promised land. Asian immigrants, however, feel increasingly anxious about the fierce competition of college admission shadowed by the dubious existence of “Asian quota.” Recently, a dozen rejected Asian American applicants sued Harvard for discrimination against Asian Americans by penalizing their higher achievement as a group. According to court documents, Harvard consistently rated Asian applicants lower than other races on traits like likability and kindness. The debates around the lawsuit reveal widely shared stereotypes that associate Asian families with tiger parenting and exam-obsessed culture.
My new book, Raising Global Families: Parenting, Immigration, and Class in Taiwan and the US, dispels the myth of tiger mom by revealing divergent childrearing practices among ethnic Chinese families across the social class spectrum and geographic locations. I interviewed over a hundred parents in Taiwan and the US, including middle-class and working-class Taiwanese, and middle-class and working-class Chinese immigrants in the Boston Area. This unique research illuminates that ethnic culture is neither static nor uniform but rather is constantly shifting across borders. Each group of parents faced context-specific predicaments and employed class-specific strategies to cope with uncertainties and insecurities in the changing society and globalized world.