Thursday, 5 January 2012

Wonderland Chinese Tiger Mothers

Wonderland - British Tiger Mother's BBC 2 9pm Thursday 5th January 2012,
In terms of academic achievement, British Chinese children are the most successful ethnic group in this country, and behind each success story you will usually find a formidable Tiger Mother. Play by her rule book, and you get hours of homework and music practice, strict discipline, and not too much time for play. But you are also more likely to get A grades.

Is this the way forward? What is life like in such households? In Hannah Berryman's film, we meet three British-based Chinese mothers doing their best to make sure their children do not pick up the slack habits of their Western counterparts. Do these children lose out in other ways, or are the Tiger Mothers right in simply expecting more from their children?

To quote Sally, mother of six-year-old Matthew: 'He only does about three hours homework a night - plenty of time to play!'

Amy Chua’s list of rules.
No grade lower than an A; nothing less than top of the class for any subject except gym and drama; no television; no computer games; no sleepovers; no play dates; no parts in school plays; no complaints about not being in school plays; no musical instrument except piano or violin; no choice of extra-curricular activities.

Watch on BBC Iplayer here: BBC Wonderland Series 4 Meet Britains Chinese Tiger Mums


  1. Who watched this programme?

  2. Two inter racially married couples with conspicuously engineered mixed race 'super' children (in line with Amy Chua who is also inter racially married)using Chinese instructional methodology?

    Do these types of transnational Chinese women think they can have their cake and eat it?

  3. i didn't but i saw a talk about it on BBC breakfast with the women in ur pic talking, seemed a little over the top, forcing her children to study 4 hrs and then 2hrs of piano practice till they cry, decided i didn't want to watch it because it stunk of the stereotypical chinese/east asian parent relationship and sad chinese children story.

    When ppl take into account that tiger moms act like snooty rich parents, that's because they are. They're just chinese so the western media jump on to it.

    and yeh, amy rubenfield who made up the tiger mom garbage is a desperate attention seeker, and the american media bought it and so have the BBC.

  4. I dont think its garbage, but I agree the programme makers deliberately set the agenda out to find really quite repulsive bitchy Chinese women that best fit the Amy Chua model, in some respects they are just younger versions of the other western portrayal known as the Dragon lady.

    These women wear the trousers in the relationship, they all appeared to be married to soft weak men, including the white husband who had left school at 16 and who was caretaker for a block of flats whilst his Chinese wife had 2 masters degrees. Isn't it amazing how these types of Chinese women make exceptions for white men? Do you think she would marry a chinese man with such low status?

  5. They're not proper Chinese so I don't wanna waste my time watching it.

  6. What is proper Chinese in your opinion Kai?

    One was a Canadian Chinese former model, one was a Taiwan FOB and the third was Guangdong FOB. Not proper Chinese?

  7. This was really depressing, enforcing the model mum that is responsible for the model minority hard working stereotype. and not the media. sneaky.

    then of course dragon lady stereotype and the Taiwan FOB who was in IR relationship, who also had submissive husband.

    I watched about ten minutes of it but as a BBC the fact that they are just interviewing selected FOBS with loaded questions made me not want to watch it further.

    That shitty 'oriental' twanging in the background didnt help either.

    F*cking British Broadcasting imperialist tossers. Would they ever do a programme stereotyping Jewish mothers as pushy, manipulative, overbearing and raising their kids up to be the same?

    Didnt think so.

  8. That Taiwanese FOB was classic. High educated FOB has kid with white dumbo janitor, rules over him and raises her hapa kid for self acceptance into white society.

    Chinese female insecurity at its best.

    This is the why FOBS need education - talk about BBCS not having pride in chinese culture, what about all the FOB sellouts escaping to the UK for 'freedom'.

    No point speaking Chinese, saying you enforce Chinese discipline, and cook Chinese when you are using Chinese tradition as an excuse to mask your personal insecurities as a human being.


  9. Im sorry but theres something seriously wrong the FOB female sellout mentality. Seriously. the female BBC sellout condition is one thing - more to do socially engineered herd attitude if anything, but this...this just makes me really disappointed.

    Like was mentioned on the other thread - its this kind of attitude makes you feel that you have to start all over again. whats the point in us being educated when the next wave have to be reeducated.

    Im really pissed off now. And these imperialists play off of it. Id like to kill every one of them.

    China should never have opened itself to the west. It caused nothing but trouble ever since those fucking opium wars.

  10. The moment I saw this on the TV guide, I thought "I wonder if they're going to feature a Chinese couple who recently immigrated here, another born here"... of course neither were the case, I should have guessed it would be a white father. I too was disgusted that a highly educated oriental woman would actually marry a ill educated man - but he's white, so that makes it superior to her and every other man of her race.

    You have to ask, would a highly educated white woman ever marry a simple Chinese factory worker? Peasant even? Indeed, if this FOB's daughter were to pair off with a Chinese man, would she disapprove? I'm guessing yes, considering she's sacrificed her intelligence for "whiteness".

  11. You have to wonder how mentally confused they are, if they are promoting their "Chinese values" of hard work by having kids with a white... don't they realise in 2 generations time there won't be any Chinese left? It also makes the programme rather inaccurate, Chinese mothers raising Chinese children... when 2 of them are half half.

    I must say though, the sole Chinese father in that held up well, he was a chilled out guy. And for some reason he had a Finnish accent. Plus the fact he had a "western" i.e. do whatever you want upbringing just shows this entire "Tiger Mum" crap is racial stereotyping bullshit.

    Also anyone notice how the "Chinese music" only played when the all-Chinese couple were being featured? Can't be by mistake.

  12. Also, something I noticed with 2 of the couples that ties in with the "white worship" mindset of Chinese women... both men (white and Chinese) were laid back, wanting to relax with their kids, and were pretty open about it... with the Chinese man, the Chinese wife was laying into him, calling him simple, having an easy life after his "day in the office" (sounds like she's never worked in one).... whereas the Chinese wife of the white man (who is a goddamn janitor - how much less work do you need?) hesitates and mumbles "he's wrong" when he talks about having a more relaxed attitude... basically she is taking a more demure approach than if it was a man of her own race.

    Never mind the Chinese Tiger mum mentality rubbish... how on earth did the Chinese woman white worship mentality become so integrated within our women??? And more importantly, how do we reverse and fix this? It certainly needs something substantially more than a few people on a website.

  13. the racist 'oriental' music was deliberately played to racially take the piss out of the chinese couple because the tiger mom Sally Chen had a strong Chinese pidgin accent...."he need loutine" and "my maths is hollible." Awful stereotypical programme, is this what the British Chinese pay our TV licence money for?

  14. From a positive note it, at least it didn’t show Chinese people as benefit scroungers or having a massive chip on one’s shoulder and whinging about inequality or the lack of economic opportunities, but trying in their particular way to get ahead.
    I am a typical BBC bloke despite my respect for Chinese culture and pride etc,sorry to say these are sort females I do and would avoid at all costs, never date or have close relations with, unless forced upon because of genetic relational ties and there are many and far-reaching alas. Because their world view is so excessively narrow and pragmatic, you never get these personality types to think outside the box or have a conversation that shifts away from hard-work ethic and life, and when you question them or ask them to do things that they haven’t excessively learnt they are at a loss. I think this is one of the reasons why the tiger mother mentality don’t see things politically broadly enough and understand power at a deeper level, as limited solely to a well paid job prospects.
    I feel sorry for the husband (nice guy, but no balls) and his likable son, who has to put up with that dentist receptionist that won’t stop yapping with that dreadful accent and that embarrassing obvious self cut fringe...
    to save money I guess

  15. ^ Yeah theres the older school FOBS who despite having Chinese pride, cant think outside the box. On the other hand there are the younger multiculturalist FOBS who are more educated and worldly but seem to stand for nothing of value.

    It's like a 'progression' from the fob viewpoint of westernisation as freedom to westernisation as multiculturalism in replacement of Chinese development.

    There are good virtues of discipline but if political uwareness and humanities awareness are sacrificed at the cost of just job prospects, you end up with a narrowminded chinese individual, which defines the model minority stereotype that we have filled and struggle to break out of, and mistakenly THINK we have done, by accepting the poisoned chalice of multiculturalism instead of advancing our own Chinese culture.

    Ideally would

  16. Having a white husband is part of the deal as well I suppose?

    Nothing but 'the best', right? Jesus.

  17. The worst thing is the hypocrisy of the presenter and producer, Hannah Berryman. She goes on about how a "Chinese" upbringing is bad, but look at her LinkedIn profile

    A degree from Cambridge... you don't get those by not having a "Chinese" upbringing... methinks this programme is more to do with placing pressure on Chinese parents to dumb down so folk like Berryman can get the elite degree places.

    1. interesting theory.... i wouldnt bet against it!

      dumbing down turning the masses into sheeps are all part of colonimismsmsmsmsismm how do you even spell it?!

      chris li

  18. Also near the end when they were in the Chinese sunday school, the presenter says "there's not many British people in Chinese school, is there?".... but they're ALL British. They were all born here. Why aren't they British? The western media have such double standards when it comes to races... if it's black or asian, they are at pains to promote their Britishness, yet if they're ethnic Chinese she just says flat out they are Chinese, not British. I'm rather worried at this assumption by the presenter, it implies that we are not seen as both and thus perpetual foreigners. In OUR OWN COUNTRY.

    Of course what she really meant was, there's not many white people in the school.

  19. happybritishchinese said...

    It's like a 'progression' from the fob viewpoint of westernisation as freedom to westernisation as multiculturalism in replacement of Chinese development.

    There are good virtues of discipline but if political uwareness and humanities awareness are sacrificed at the cost of just job prospects, you end up with a narrowminded chinese individual, which defines the model minority stereotype that we have filled and struggle to break out of, and mistakenly THINK we have done, by accepting the poisoned chalice of multiculturalism instead of advancing our own Chinese culture.


    I would argue that many of us have broken out of that model minority mindset - not by being scroungers etc. but not doing the traditional "safe" jobs - accountancy etc. Once again it is the mainstream media, and thus the overwhelming majority in this country, who put us in that light as either "traditional" Chinese emigrants who either doing "safe" jobs or work in a takeaway. Because of that perception by media, regardless of how truthful it really is, Chinese watching - who are very image concious in an overwhelmingly white country where we are judged at every turn - tend to "freak out", ending in these BBCs becoming "multicultural" i.e. abandoning anything Chinese about them, going gangsta, attempting to be white by having white kids etc.

    I mean, little things like that stupid "Chinese" music playing for the only Chinese couple in a documentary about Chinese parenting methods... it's the sort of stuff that most Chinese wouldn't notice, as they simply can't read between the lines - my mother saw this at my request and I had to actively point it out to her before she realised. That sort of shit that goes on in the background does a lot of damage to us, and shapes how we are perceived by non Chinese.

  20. RE: oriental music playing only with the Chinese couple. It's so obvious what the producer was trying to do here. Despite being immigrants, they are more British than most immigrants who are classed as British in the press... they partake in "British" activities - watching football, toy cars, their home doesn't have much "Chinese" in the way of decor (compare this to many British Asian homes with traditional Asian furniture - still British though).

    Furthermore, the Chinese mothers with the white fathers who DIDN'T have rubbish oriental music playing actually had more "Chinese" about them then the all Chinese couple - the one visiting Lang Lang, playing piano. The subtle racism was painful to see as a BBC.

    If this sort of subtle racism was with regards to blacks, I'm sure a complaint would actually be upheld. But as we are Chinese, and the very fact that the stereotypical music was allowed to be associate with the only Chinese couple there and then broadcast, tells me the BBC will only laugh at such a complaint from us.

    That's how far behind we are in race relations.

  21. Having watched this program, its plain and simple 'Child Abuse'. Those laughing funny and entertaining and totally screwed-up parents should be locked up and the children put in care. With a family who respect children and childhood and don't try to compensate for their own equally deprived and unfortunate childhood.

  22. There is a clear 'political' agenda or bias in the programme. However, all 3 FOB tiger mothers in the programme do not come from the usual cantonese speaking commonwealth countries that we are used to knowing in the UK...i.e Singapore, Malaysian, Hong Kong, rather they're from Taiwan, Mainland China, even the Canadian woman's parents came from Taiwan, so perhaps there are Chinese intra-cultural differences here?

    Amy Chua Battle Hymn of the Chinese Tiger Mother presents just 'one model' of raising children, it certainly doesn't apply to all Chinese, but most of us can relate to bits of it. For example, Chinese parents often turn their nose up at sports and drama is perhaps one reason why we don't have any great British ethnic Chinese sportsmen or actors.

    Its not entirely traditional either, the kids get rewards for doing well, whereas a lot of Chinese with extremely traditional parents that I know never got rewards, but were physically beaten with a tung tiu for quite trivial reasons, i.e not doing their homework etc.

  23. @BBCZeigest, I meant the kids are not full Chinese and the husband is not Chinese so already it's far from a 'typical' Chinese or British Chinese family. Furthermore, all these comments suggests this 'documentary' is just as painful to watch like a 'Chinese themed' American/Hollywood movie.
    Anyway, we should all complain to OFCOM about this inaccurate, biased and borderline racist so-called 'documentary'.

  24. one kid is full Chinese, the others are mixed, the Canadian Chinese woman's husband (I read) was American Korean, but he didn't feature in the documentary, so I'm guessing he is not full blood Korean because their kids don't look full Asian, in fact their mother doesn't look full Chinese either.

  25. - orientalist music
    - focusing on FOBS and saying there are no british people here at the Chinese school.

    Im aware that we can all relate to bits to it, I know I got punished as a kid by my dad til my hands were swollen and red for not doing certain things as i was told, but thats not the point.

    To me, this program, basically by focusing on FOBS and subtly skewering it to be contraversial with its editing and choice of oriental music at certain points except when we have a 'normal' hapa family and asking loaded questions....

    This is another example of making us BBCS being made invisible with Chinese misrepresentation orientalisation and hapa-is normal...again.

    For what its worth,i'm going on the British Born Chinese facebook page and let ppl know about this.Hopefully some will realise the subtle racist implications of this programme.

    This is exactly why we need our own BBC media. To report BS like this.

  26. haha im having an argument on facebook. this FOB wants to raise his children like the tiger mums.

    me and another bbc are trying to get him to wake up. hes a FOB tho he cant understand

    heres the facebook thread for anyone else who wants to join in - look for the tiger mums thread

  27. Just to throw in my opinion and fully disprove the stereotyping of "Chinese parenting" (i.e. some parents are strict and regimental, others are not - race DOES NOT come into play) - my mainland Chinese father and Hong Konger mother were persuasive, but NEVER forceful. They expressed disappointment when I did poorly academically AND in other fields, and were literally over the moon and showered me with gifts, incentives and praise when I was doing well. Much like how the SOLE Chinese father was raised in the programme, it shows that you simply cannot stereotype such things into racial categories, as much as the media want to push it.

  28. I've been reading that Facebook group, pretty disappointing for them to take such a resigned and whitewashed attitude :(

    Also it really doesn't help when the mainstream news fail to report on attacks, deaths and general racism re: Chinese. It gives a false sense of security and how welcome we really are as a race in OUR country. Example - it is a common attitude that blacks tend not to be friendly towards authorities - they have a siege mentality. Why? Because they are stopped and searched, disproportionately jailed, accused of crime, neglected for jobs etc. All this is clear for everyone to see - the racism is obvious, you don't need news reports to tell you how bad it is and people's attitudes adjust to that.

    For us, the racism is insidious and behind the scenes. The obvious racial attacks - e.g. Simon San - are contained in local news, are considered general incidents rather than race related, and of course what must be the daily attacks and taunts on Chinese are never even reported and seen as nothing. This creates a misguided sense of us being accepted by British society, especially if they do not pay attention to what other Chinese have gone through, either because we don't care or keep such incidents to ourselves.

  29. ^ 'For us, the racism is insidious and behind the scenes'


    'It gives a false sense of security and how welcome we really are as a race in OUR country.'

    exactly and when you are unaware of it, it makes it a hard job to convince as you can see clearly from the amount of times i mentioned this blog on that particular thread, and i think probably the person above you is maybe from that page, nice enough to contribute.

    BTW - are you BBCronin without the google ID? your writing style seems familiar...anyway guess we'll never know :D


    the thing is that facebook page is where everyone meets. as you can see from the conversation friday night at 3am ppl were joining in the discussion and a few agreed with me. ill still keep trying but it gets exhausting when you get some attention freak making fun of your mother, brother and all these kind of childish retorts.

    i dont know how old you lot are but the facebook lot are the future of bbcs uni students so its important they are aware and that something is done.

    im wondering if we can set up a bbczeitgeist facebook page. the only problem with that is it gets fiddly to have an indepth discussion like on here but its nice to get to know people in real time.

    yeah majority are whitewashed but theres a few ive made friends with. but again...wheres the infrastructure?

    For example, this is the ofcom complaint form

    so its asking for your house number and postcode, your phone number etc etc, if we were a chinese community it wouldnt be a problem. But i cant imagine any Chinese filling that form by himself for obvious reasons.

    If you also look on that facebook page, theres a girl promoting a potential up and coming bbc documentary. I mentioned to her id be interested in it if it spoke the truth. But what documentary could capture the detail of whats discussed on here? none. because its a 30 minute time slot and probably shows a bunch of people enjoying themselves. its a start but its not what we need. anyway at least this blog will be here for future reference.

  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

  31. independent review

  32. I am not Chinese,

    I watched the documentary and thought that Hannah Berryman approached this in a very negative light. I didn't like her comment about there 'not being many british people here' at the Sunday school. It came across as Sinophobic to me and so I thought I'd check the Internet to see if anyone else had felt the same way.

    Having said that I actually liked all the families and thought that all the children seemed happy to me with the exception of the Canadian family. That mother seemed very controlling in an unpleasant way.

  33. HBC.
    Do you not find it hard to stand in your pulpit & bang on about racism whilst calling anyone with a different mindset an FOB ? ? ("Fresh Off the Boat", i.e. vietnamese refugees arriving by boat)

    Do us a favour & stop trying to imply your representing all BBC's with your opinions.

  34. Some great comments, I agree that "Tiger Mother" is becoming a too reductive label to generalise Chinese women. Tiger mothering does NOT Equate success nor a happy life.. IMP it is too isolationist to be constantly competitive and striving for the impossible, the paradox to success is the hard realisation of imperfection NOT a delusional superman that wishy washy tiger mothering philosophy advocates. If you don't have the talent ever to be a concert pianist don’t waste your time practising 10 hours a day. Nothing wrong with chat for chat sakes, or writing smug blogs every now and then.

  35. Anonymous said...
    I am not Chinese,

    I watched the documentary and thought that Hannah Berryman approached this in a very negative light. I didn't like her comment about there 'not being many british people here' at the Sunday school. It came across as Sinophobic to me and so I thought I'd check the Internet to see if anyone else had felt the same way.

    9 January 2012 00:25

    =========Thank you for being the only non-Chinese to see that. Stereotypes aside, that I found was more shocking than anything else - it implied that ethnic Chinese are not British. This despite her knowing (she interviewed them!) the kids who were BORN IN BRITAIN. I still remember the news coverage of riots, disproportionately black people involved in the looting. Time and time again I hear the phrase "our kids" .... letting "our" children down, "our future" etc... Hannah Berryman is a Cambridge educated, white middle class "liberal" - the sort in journalism who would consider blacks and asians born here British. But her blunt questioning shows that ethnic Chinese do not share the same view, and that is very dangerous for us as a race in Britain.

  36. @^^^very good point about the people of chinese extraction not perceived as "British".

    another example why I think this blog is hits the mark.

  37. @anonymous 9 January 2012 16:19

    Im not trying to represent all BBCs not sure where you got that idea from.Think you can see from the above, some people can think for themselves. Even a non-BBC can see the racism that you ( im assuimg you are a BBC) cant.

    And if you want to pull me out on the technicality, FOB is short term for those Chinese in Britain that weren't born here. It's not a derogatory term to me, because FOBABEE can apply to someone who wants to be a FOB ( typically a BBC)