Tag Archives: learning Chinese

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?








Crazy Chinese Family Trees

It is time for the first guest post on my blog in 2016. This guest post by Learn Mandarin Now gives interesting facts about Chinese Family Trees and how to address family members the proper way without embarrassing yourself too much. It is not the first guest post you Learn Mandarin Now on my blog and you might remember for example Three Ways To Learn Mandarin Chinese Effectively or the Infographic about the Top 10 Ways to Learn Mandarin Chinese.


I don’t know about you, but I am a long-time follower of Timo’s blog: Crazy Chinese Family. I enjoy it the most when Timo writes about his “interesting” relationship with his mother-in law, which makes me laugh every time!

I know Timo can speak some Mandarin Chinese and, despite this and having first-hand experience about how Chinese-in laws and families can be, it’s probably still hard for him to sometimes understand just how crazy and complicated Chinese family trees can be. In fact, at times, it’s hard to get family relationships all right, even for native Chinese!

Well, if you also feel this way too, we hope we can help you out today!


In my opinion, the Chinese family tree is complicated for couple of key reasons:

  • for example, for the English word “cousin” there are eight Chinese word: 表(biǎo)哥(gē),表(biǎo)姐(jiě),表(biǎo)弟(dì),表(biǎo)妹(mèi),堂(táng)哥(gē),堂(táng)姐(jiě),堂(táng)弟(dì),堂(táng)妹(mèi)。Crazy?
  • as we all know, China is a really big country and, although the aim is to have a standard language for students to learn or remember, there are lots of variations for the same terms. The Chinese word “媳(xí)妇(fù)” means daughter-in law but, in some areas, it can also mean wife… again so crazy!


A Chinese family tree can be talked about forever, but let’s get started with the basics:

A couple: this is easy:

Husband: 老(lǎo)公(gōng),丈(zhàng)夫(fu),先(xiān)生(shēng)

Wife: 老(lǎo)婆(pó),妻(qī)子(zi),夫(fū)人(rén)

In-laws (here’s a more complicated part)

If you are like Timo and married to a Chinese lady, you should call your wife’s parents:

wife’s father: 岳(yuè)父(fù)

wife’s mother: 岳(yuè)母(mǔ)


But what they should call Timo?


Note: 女(nǚ)婿(xù)is the most proper word to use. It’s used more to introduce you to someone. Eg. This is my son in-law. 是(shì)我(wǒ)的(de)女(nǚ)婿(xù)。

In most cases, your in-laws will just say your formal name or your Chinese name (if you have one).

What if your wife has lots of brothers/sisters?

Your wife’s older brother: 大舅子(dàjiùzi)

older sister: 大姨子(dàyízi)

younger brother: 小舅子(xiǎojiùzǐ)

younger sister: 小(xiǎo)姨(yí)子(zǐ)

Seems a bit complicated, right? Well, I don’t want to go any deeper into this today, but really I understand how confused you may feel.


Still, as Chinese New Year is coming soon, if you also are meeting family-in law and family, here are two great tips for you:

  • The number one rule is NEVER call seniors by their name directly. For example, your (future) mother-in-law is 陈大矛(I just made her name up). Don’t call her 陈大矛or 大矛,both are big No-no’s, unless you don’t want to see her again ever… However, when speaking to the younger generation, calling them by their names is acceptable.
  • The second tip is if your Chinese is only at beginner level and you don’t remember the names of relatives at all, just ask before you speak to anyone to avoid making any silly mistakes. Typically, as you might be one of only one of the few foreigners in the room, a friend or colleague or your Chinese family will usually be happy to help you out.


Finally, as a long time follower of Timo, I am always on Timo’s side and hope in the New Year he can win the “war” with his mother in-law. With that thought, I want to offer Timo’s some Chinese wisdom from the “art of the war” in the New Year. 己(jǐ)知(zhī)彼(bǐ),百(bǎi)战(zhàn)不(bú)殆(dài)。

Weekly Chinese Wisdom_01


Anyway, I am just joking. Of course, Timo loves his in-laws and his Chinese family 🙂


Either way, if you are also interested in learning more about Mandarin Chinese, we recently launched our very interesting, daily Chinese Podcasts from Monday to Friday on our site. You can either listen directly on our site Learn Mandarin Now or via different platforms such as iTunes. Feel free to leave your honest feedback or rating to us, we always appreciate hearing from you.

I wish everyone an amazing 2016 and Spring Festival ahead.


Did you ever face the problem of addressing family members the proper way?

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What is an interracial household?

The reason I am writing about it today is that we are basically still in process of making our apartment a homely home. We have done much already as you could see few months ago in this articles about our new apartment. But still, it seems something is missing. I am perfectly fine as it is and also my wife usually doesn’t miss anything but it is just not as cozy as it used to be in our old 40m² apartment.

DSC02814I have been living together with my wife now for  five years. During that time we visited many other couples WMAF (White Male Asian Female) with all kind of different homes and decorations. But there was never any household were one could say that this must be a typical interracial household when it comes to mix the best of those two different cultures. Sometimes it was just too overloaded with cheap looking Chinese decoration and sometimes the exact opposite. In the end it depends of course on the taste of the individual person.


In some of the homes we visited it totally looked European. I mean there was sometimes nothing at all that might suggest that a Chinese woman was living there. For example here in Germany we visited one couple with two children and basically everything was just German, the woman even talked only German to the little kids as they did not know anything about the language and didn’t like it  same as Chinese food…I am not trying to say that this is bad but it is also very weird as in Finland we never encountered something as drastic as this one.


Since we have been here my wife tried to find her spot here in the little Chinese community and always heard the same thing. The DSC02811children do not speak any Chinese, just German. Sure they knew some of the basic words you learn also in a Chinese language course in the first couple of lessons but that’s it. The main problem so far here as been always that in kindergarten they only speak German. Okay that is itself not a problem but they do not have any possibility to learn any Chinese except when the mother might talk to them few words in her native language. In Finland for example we never saw that anyone had this language problem as they offered in many Chinese communities for the children Chinese classes, both writing and talking. This however is most likely different here as my hometown is just too small and that the few dozens interracial couples are not enough to start such Chinese community center.


DSC02796Now I am wondering how our son will fare with his language skills. As I wrote before it is very hard to get into a kindergarten here so we are still on various waiting lists. Furthermore we speak to him in Chinese, English, German and Finnish. This is surely much to handle to such a little brain but without a doubt possible if we stick to our roles and each one of us talks only in one language to him (my wife Chinese, my mother Finnish, my father German and last but not least the most important person: ME in English).


So what have we managed so far when it comes to create some mixed household? Well, we have some Chinese decoration still from our old apartment which we spread out all over our home. Then there is of course the wonderful Chinese food my wife is making plus trying to make good contacts with the few Chinese here. Furthermore we are planning to buy some nice artwork in our next journey to China such as a big wall scroll for the living room. Even though we try to get our home more homely we also try our best to maintain a modern design at least for most of the rooms (Nathan’s room will be a total different matter as we will try to stick to a very certain theme and once it is done I will of course write about it). In the end we have right now a mostly European designed home with few things here giving a hint that there is someone from China living here.


What is in your opinion typical in such a household? What are your experiences?

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