Q: There was a recent article that said Asians are less likely to check the "Asian" box when applying for colleges due to fear of discrimination. Some half-Asian/half-white applicants only indicate their white ethnicity. What are your thoughts on that, and how did you answer that question when applying to colleges?
A: I checked Asian. I had heard it was harder to apply as an Asian, so as a point of pride, I had to say I was Asian. Would you feel good about yourself knowing you lied to get in on lowered standards?
Q: Have you ever mixed up "your, you're" or "there, their, they're" before?
Q: How did the tiger mom handle the birds and the bees?
A: We have never had the Talk. We have talked about how we’d both be grossed out and giggling if we had the Talk, and we decided against it. I know this might be a little weird (and I’m not necessarily advocating this approach) but it worked for us. A prime example, I might add, of mother-daughter communication.
Q: What was your favorite Christmas present you received?
A: My grandparents gave me a bunch of books by Stephen Hawking. He is my new hero. The Illustrated A Brief History of Time is a picture book for people like me who have average brains but want to learn about quantum mechanics.
Q: Did you ever feel too sheltered growing up under the thumb of a tiger mom?
A: I don’t feel I grew up under anybody’s thumb! My mom isn’t a micromanager. She has classes to teach and books to write, and doesn’t have time to check in with me every thirty seconds. And sheltered? Oh, no...one silver lining of being the middle schooler reading books at recess is that you get exposed to all kinds of things. Norse myths get kinky. If you don’t already know what Loki did with a stallion, don’t google it.
Q: I know several "tiger moms." Their kids are either the non-social, diligently studious type, or they are talkative and exciting to be around with, while still maintaining "Chinese values." I noticed that you're more of the latter type. Do you have any idea what causes this pattern? Does it have to do with the parenting?
A: First off: thank you, I appreciate that. Just speculating, I’m inclined to blame the parents. All of the beaten-down, school-obsessed kids I have spoken to share a striking trait: to a one, they believe their parents’ love for them is tied to how highly they achieve. (The “believe” part is important – I think some parents just have trouble expressing their love.) When I was growing up, by contrast, the idea that my parents would love me less if I did poorly on a math test was ridiculous. They were there to cheer for me when I did well, and to push me when I didn’t. But in both cases they were there for me, because they loved me no matter what. I think having to compete not only for success, but also for affection would be incredibly stressful and perhaps psychologically damaging. So I think it comes down to unconditional versus conditional love, and unconditional wins every time.
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