What is a Tiger Mom?
She is a strict disciplinarian who emphasizes academic achievement above all. She demands excellence of her children. She holds you to impossibly high standards for your own good, and for the good of the family.
"Tiger Mom" typically refers to a Chinese parent, but more broadly applies to South and East Asian parents. Really, anyone can be a tiger parent.
Did you grow up with a Tiger Mom?
If you are a first-generation or immigrant American, you may have had this experience.
- Very strict and demanding upbringing. Not just your typical "tough mom."
- Emphasis on grades. If you bring home an A, "Why not an A+?" If you bring home an A+, "Why didn't you do extra credit?"
- After-school tutoring. Kumon, anyone? Music lessons. Maybe sports.
- Focus on appearances. Can't make the family look bad!
- Conformity as a virtue.
- Expressing needs or speaking up for yourself is seen as being ungrateful, or becoming too American.
Effects of Having a Tiger Parent
It's not all bad! Strict childhoods can create successful adults.
Children of tiger parents often feel proud of their values and heritage. Many first-generation Americans feel thankful for the hard work our parents dedicated to making sure we had every opportunity. Without them, we wouldn't be who we are.
But we grow up straddling two worlds. First-generation Americans have a unique relationship with adulthood in white America.
For us, life inside the home isn't any clearer.
We don't want to be ungrateful. We don't want to "betray" our families by choosing a different path.
We struggle with feelings of inadequacy, invisibility, and guilt. Nothing is ever good enough. We second-guess ourselves, even at our most successful.
We walk a thin line between pressure as motivation, and pressure holding us back.
This can contribute to intense anxiety and depression. Especially for people who seem to "have it all."
ok, but Why Join a group?
I get the hesitation.
You probably imagine an awkward, cold, "all-purpose community room" in the back of a strip mall. With bad coffee and a 12-step vibe. (No shade, 12-step.)
It's hard enough sharing with a therapist in private. Let alone an entire room of strangers! Especially when your family doesn't believe in therapy. You're not sure if you do, either. You learned not to show any vulnerability in public. Expressing needs is indulgent.
But guess what? You already know the benefits of group.
You've spent your life feeling like an outsider. How does it feel when you meet someone who gets it?
When they describe their own experience, and it sounds just like yours? How validating and healing is it when you don't have to explain yourself?
Joining a small group of like-minded people gives you a built-in support system next time you need a place to vent and figure out what to do.
Tiger Mom Recovery & Support Group
This group isn't for everyone. But if you've read this far, it might be for you. This group is for any adult who grew up with an overbearing and strict parent, who now struggles with perfectionism but still loves their family. It is particularly helpful for first-generation and immigrant Americans, who have a different relationship to "success."
What happens in group?
Think of it as half classroom and half fireside chat.
I've run groups for nearly 10 years, and it's still one of my favorite ways to help people. Or actually, to let people help each other. You don't have to share more than you're comfortable. Yes, you can just listen. But people start to feel safe pretty quickly. And as they do, the group becomes each others' therapists.
The thing I hear most from group participants: "I didn't want to come to group tonight but I'm so glad I did."
You'll learn about emotional wellness and strategies for setting limits and protecting yourself. You'll hear what has worked for other people. You'll learn that you don't have to choose between having your family in your life and being your own person.
We'll explore questions like:
- Why do I feel resentment and love at the same time? Is that normal?
- Literally how do I prepare for this family visit so that I don't lose my cool again?
- Why do I feel like a rock star with my friends, but as soon as I get around my family, I feel like a failure because I'm not a neurosurgeon? (Neurosurgeons welcome.)
- What role does perfectionism play in my life? How does it help? How does it hurt?
- In what ways do I hold privilege and experience oppression compared to my friends and colleagues?
- Tuesday nights
- 8 weeks: September 18 - October 30
- Long Beach, CA (location provided upon acceptance into group.)
- 90 minutes
- $50 per session
Share your story.
Change habits that no longer serve you.
Make peace with your past.
Get on the list
Join the waitlist for the next round of Tiger Mom Recovery & Support Group. You'll be contacted for a brief interview.
All ethnicities and identities welcome. All genders and orientations welcome.