Guest Post: Tiger Mom & Eagle Dad

This is a guest blog post from TutorMandarin – an online Mandarin tutor service that teaches students how to speak Chinese using an innovative mobile app and PC Software.


“Tiger Mom” and “Eagle Dad” are now both commonly recognized terms by Western and Eastern parents alike. These terms refer to a strict type of parent that are prevalent in both the Chinese culture as well as other Asian cultures. Today, we’ll dive a bit deeper into where these terms come from, what they mean, and what they say about parenting.

What is a Tiger Mom?

“Tiger Mom” came into widespread use after the Yale law professor Amy Chua published her book – Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (2011). Amy Chua is a second generation immigrant and was raised in a traditional Chinese way. Her book reflects on how traditional Chinese parenting affected her and how she applies a similar strategy her kids upbringing. Her book shows her attempts to use traditional Chinese parenting techniques with a modern Chinese daughter who frequently rebels – forcing her to decide whether to double down on her traditional parenting style or adjust. The book is a memoir of her transformation of being a mother of two daughters while bringing them up in the traditional strict parenting way.


How Strict is a Tiger Mom?

Amy Chua revealed in the book that she never allowed her kids to have a playdate, sleepover, watch TV, participate in a school play, or choose their own extra-curricular activities. The kids were also not allowed to “get any grade less than an A” or “not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama.” On the weekends, they were made to take piano and violin lessons, in which they had to reach certain goals or else they didn’t go a break or even dinner. Chua claims these strict policies are the reason that her children became so successful later on in school and music studies. She argues that this type of parenting is common in Asian families and acceptable.

What is an Eagle Dad?

In 2012, a video of a 4-year-old Chinese boy shivering in the snow with only his underpants went viral. His father was filmed while his boy trembled and begged for his dad to hug him. Instead of doing so, the dad made the boy lay on the cold, freezing snow first before he actually held him. The dad, Li Sheng is the former president of a bedding company from Nanjing, was given the nickname “Eagle Dad.” He didn’t just want his son to succeed, he wanted him to soar. “Like an eagle, I push my child to the limit so he can learn how to fly.


How strict is too strict a dad?

Duoduo, the shivering boy, who was born several months premature. The doctor announced that he might suffer from cerebral palsy. Due to this, his dad made him undergo extreme physical and mental endurance to build up his strength. At age 5, he became the youngest person ever to fly a light airplane, covering a distance of 30 km. At age 6, he completed a 5.5km marathon with his father wearing only a red underwear as well. Now age 8, Duoduo has signed up for sales management courses at Nanjing University. Duoduo is home schooled by a private teacher along with his Eagle Dad. Waking up at 6:30 every morning covering studies such as art, math, music, business and finance, languages, technology, 3D printing, robotics, and even military exercise training. He’s even going to participate in a world-class robotic programming competition in the UK soon.

Does strict parenting work?

People might argue that strict parenting is against nature. Children should have the right to have a happy childhood without too much pressure. However, others might argue that making certain rules since they are young is an effective way to train them for the future. We are going to break down into two parts, upside and downside.

The Advantages of Strictness

Like the movie Whiplash, as the professor once said “I was there to push people beyond what’s expected of them. I believe that’s an absolute necessity.” Some believe that by pushing people to their limits, parents must be strict. Amy Chua truly believes that strict parenting is necessary for her children’s success. Eagle Dad believes that Duoduo will thank him in the future for what he did for him. At the heart of it, they harbor a belief that children are too young to know what is good for them and what is not. By following their past experience of success, strict parenting seems like a perfect model to follow. However, is that the only path to success?

The Disadvantages of Strictness

Children brought up through strict parenting often turn out either extremely obedient or wildly rebellious. Also, it is noted that children of Tiger Moms and Eagle Dads are so afraid of upsetting them, they are prone doing whatever it takes to avoid punishment or trouble. This includes lying, concealing their feelings, and more. Also, a lifetime of the following order hampers both their critical thinking and creativity.


To be strict or not to be strict?

It is the number-one question among all parents. Children’s personalities and abilities vary and change over time. Parents can start from either authoritarian or permissive method, step by step observing how your kids adapt to the style. Once you’ve made the decision to parent in a certain way, make every effort to stick with it. Whether you get advice from the people around you or follow the academic research, you will have to decide what is going to work best for you, your family, your child, and the society in which you live.


What do You think about Tiger Moms and Eagle Dads?








20 thoughts on “Guest Post: Tiger Mom & Eagle Dad”

  1. I still believe in moderation. Meaning you don’t have to be crazily strict but not to chill and let them do whatever they want. And every child is different so you will get a sense what would be the approach that makes sense

    1. I had more relaxed parents, more or less. They were strict but also gave me some freedom. In the end it was me who chose to go to a sports high school and be busy with studies and sports 14 hours a day

      1. Sports and extracurriculars were too hard for my family to manage for more than one kid. Anything that required them driving and paying money was out. So we could do chorus, or the school play, or marching band, but something like swimming or gymnastics was too difficult. I guess we got freedom by default?

      2. Thankfully sports were mot too expensive here in Germany when I was young (I think my swimming team was like 250 dollars a year) and besides that kids usually bicycled everywhere. However things are changing with parents driving their kids everywhere these days and letting them do less sports and thus clubs have to increase their fees

  2. I think there must be a balance between being strict and being lenient. Of course kids do not exactly know what is right from wrong, or what is expected and what isn’t. I believe kids should know the value of discipline as it will also serve them well in their adulthood. If the parents are too strict, kids are likely to resort to lies to get away with what they did. On the other hand, they should also be given the chance to explore their personal interests and express their thoughts. When kids know that their views are also important to their parents, they tend to open up more.

    1. I agree, there has to be the right balance. Besides each parent has a different view what is strict and what is more lenient. Furthermore each child is different as well and will have another reaction to the parenting methods.
      In the end each family has to find out themselves the proper way and always need to consider that their kids are human beings and need the proper attention and love

      1. Indeed! There will be more challenges when parents do not share the same view. Imagine one parent being strict, in an extreme way that’s quite suffocating, and the other being too lenient. That would be really confusing for the kid and frustrating for either of the couple.

      2. Have experience similar things in my youth. One of the family friends had a son same age as me. There was always talk how talented he his, how much superior their parenting and whatnot all. (My parents are strict but also relaxed in certain ways). I won’t say how their parenting was but it kind of failed as this genius can’t even pass driving school yet alone finish any school. In the end he can’t live without his parents because he never learned to do anything on his own. It is a real sad story but those parents still do talk down on others

      3. That must be really tough for the kid to get by. They have great visions for him, but nevertheless failed to give him the chance to look after himself and be responsible. That’s just really sad.

  3. I’m so against this sort of thing when it comes to education. Children should be encouraged to try their best, not told they are failures if they aren’t top of the class. It’s important to do well in the things you enjoy and the things that matter to help you in future life, but not to the point where it causes unnecessary pressure. Childhood is the best time of a lot of people’s lives, let’s not force children to have to work so hard that they are stressed and miserable. We have our entire adult life for that!

    1. I agree with you. By forcing children to do what you want they will often have a miserable childhood/ never experience one and thus will be even more strict with their own kids later on.
      I am myself a child who was forced to continue my sport for several years and then suddenly I did it on my free will. Certainly I missed a lot during my childhood as in holidays I was in training camps and before and after school in had practice. However my parents never made me feel miserable or similar and in the end I really enjoyed those years achieving things on my own

      1. Oh how nice that he was also swimming. (Many in China can’t swim!!!). For how long did he do that sport? (my own interest, guess people having done the same sport like to compair their “bests”)

  4. I’m not a particularly strict parent but I do encourage them to do their best, to be kind and to persevere. Moderation in everything. Personally, I think being too strict can be damaging. It can create success but at what cost?

  5. I would be fascinated by reading about psychological studies of the long-term effects of various types of child-rearing. Either that, or there’s a generation of world-killers out there, both in a good way and in a bad way.

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