Extinction of the Tiger Mom and Rise of (Not So Little) Emperors
Last year, the article “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” drew global attention to the “maternal ruthlessness” of Chinese moms, and ultimately popularized the term “Tiger Mom.” Now, almost exactly a year later, a new Times article “Tiger cubs on the prowl” by Mark Clifford pointed out the shift in these tiger cubs. (Read our story on Tiger Mom)
Their elders have given them many names, mostly pejorative: Japan calls them the “herbivore generation” in contrast to the workaholic salarymen who preceded them, and those still living at home are parasito shinguru (“parasite singles”). Taiwan dubs them the “strawberry generation,” because they bruise easily. In China they are the “little emperors,” and in India they are “in a hurry.”
An “Little emperor” with his grandparents
How did the ruthless tiger moms give birth to fragile little emperors?
One should separate Chinese urban youth from other Asian youths because of the one child policy. Chinese parents and grandparents have devoted their lives to that single child, and consequently raised emperors who rely on them heavily. For example, Chinese dating shows have candidates bring their mothers with them to help them decide. Therefore, many youth who grew up in urban cities have no problem living with their parents until their 30’s, and expect their parents to continue cooking and cleaning for them in the meantime.
The bigger part of the problem lies with the parents. The parents relish the fact that their child needs them, in an unhealthy way. Chinese parents feel no need to wean their kids off their dependency, and have more separation anxiety than the child, who has become the center of their universe. Thus the tigers have been tamed but this change may not be for the better of the child.
What happens when the emperor meets reality?
Firstly, if the family is affluent, the child may opt to not work at all. There is no merit in gaining life experiences through employment for the rich, as the parents prefer to continue coddling their child. Second, many fresh graduates have unrealistic expectations about their jobs and are unfamiliar with teamwork. A newly hired media design assistant once called in to say his “neck was too sore from looking at the screen all day” and could not come in today. He was fired on his third day at work.
As a result, many people are dreading the wave of “post 90’s,” or kids born after 1990’s, joining the Chinese workforce. They are described by netizens as “brain-dead,” meaning illogical or lacking independent thought. However, post 80’s children are also described unfavorably by their elders as selfish and cunning, thus it may be a tradition for elders, as they mature, to stereotype and berate their juniors.
What is fate of two emperors’ off-spring?
Recently China has loosened the one child policy to allow couples who are both the only child of a family to have two children. This option is viable for couples who can support two children or have always wanted a bigger family, but for the rest there is little incentive to do so. I personally, however, advocate to all parents who are entitled by the policy to have two children to do so. Having a sibling will help in the child’s development of teamwork abilities, social skills and altruism. Thus having a second child may solve problems with China’s talent shortage , improve international diplomacy and alleviate corruption.