Culture Family Stories 

Confessions of a Waiguo Tiger Mom

I’ve become THAT mom.

You know… the tiger mom who has her kids signed up in chess and dance and piano and math-letes and Saturday school Chinese.

I have poked a bit of fun at the stereotypical tiger mom before because I couldn’t understand why you’d have kids in a thousand different courses. What is there to gain from all of this?

Kids need to PLAY.

But that all changed last semester when Rizpah practically begged for a dance class (which she ended up hating anyway), and Ki was in art class.

Rizpah then begged to quit dance and go into the art class. A request to which I refused because one, I paid for the stinkin’ non-refundable dance class, and two, that’s life for just three months, kid – do something hard!


Though she whined through the dance class, which was really more of a glorified cheer class with stretches, I did at least want her to like her afterschool class. And Ki was begging for taekwondo.

So I signed her up for art class this semester, and while I was checking out what was available, I decided STEAM, singing, and Chinese drama would be awesome too.


When I hopped on over to fill out Ki’s form, taekwondo and a two day LEGO class was a must. I would love to put him in art class too, but if you know anything about my kids, it’s that they love to pick on each other at this age. That means the art class would be destroyed in a matter of minutes.


Not going torture their poor art teacher.

Oh gosh. How did I sign them up for this much? They asked for it all. They wanted to play and hang out with friends.


The Chinese drama course didn’t have enough students signed up, and Rizpah did not like singing, so we’re back to art class and STEAM for her.

I’m actually so glad I signed her up for STEAM because she absolutely loves the class. She loves it more than art.

Ki clearly enjoys LEGO classes and taekwondo.

But, I can’t help my tiger instincts, and I want them to love ice skating as much as I do…. so I researched a local ice skating school and we’re going to check out a demo class today.

Seriously. At 5pm.

I’ll write a blog about how it goes.

(I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, so I’ve got a lot of updating to do.)

I’m not ready to push Chinese Saturday school on them, but 1st grade is right around the corner.

Rizpah is going to go into the Chinese track.

I am so nervous.

I have prepared her for the reading English aspect of the 1st grade entrance exam for months (that deserves its own post). I’m thankful they won’t have an Chinese character reading on the test or I would be in hot water since we haven’t done well in keeping up with the homework.

You know… only weekly studies.

Ah! I’m turning into a tiger mom.

I’m just going to step away from these educational Chinese-character-cram-apps and take a deep breath.

They’re just kids.

By the way… did you know I’ve partnered up with Emily from Small Town Laowai to giveaway her new book specifically for Third Culture Kids? It’s just an email sign up.

Like literally the easiest giveaway you will ever participate in.


What’s your parenting style? Has China changed you too?

To share your thoughts, click the link for the group of other China-focused parents on Facebook or share on WeChat by scanning my QR code and asking to join the WeChat group.

Vanessa Jencks founded China Family Blog to connect internationally-minded parents through semi-humorous stories and China-life-and-parenting fails. She is the former managing editor of beijingkids magazine; see her previous work here. She is also the founder of the 600+ member organization, Innovative Educators.
WeChat: vanessajencks


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