17 Year Old’s Book Talks about Tiger Mom Parenting and “Gaokao”

Last year I stumbled upon a news report about China’s exhausting University Entrance examination Competition, named Gaokao. The College Entrance Examination, Gaokao, is a three day long rigorous College Entrance examination process which tests the examinees on everything from vocabulary to essays to endorsements. The Gaokao is China’s way of deciding which of 10 million (1 crore) seats in various colleges is allotted to which candidate every year. Such is the craze or awe of Gaokao in China, that a day before the three day brutal drill, parents get put their kids on drip and oxygen, injecting in their veins performance enhancers and oxygen, so that they perform better than their own standard.

Among these over ambitious or strict parents, whatever you want to call them, as there are plenty of them in India as well, is Amy Chua. Amy Chua became a craze in Western countries in early 2012 when her book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reached there. By the mid 2012, it already became a bestseller in West as well.

You will be wondering what Amy Chua’s book is about. To summarize, it’s about strict parenting, that’s why the words Tiger Mom. In an interview to a major media house, Amy Chua explained this as No nonsense strict parenting till the kids grow that old to take decisions for themselves. In Amy Chua’s own admission, everything the book tells is how she parented her two daughters. The strictness of this tiger mom was all pervasive, even wrt the Piano lessons. If her daughters were instructed to practice at least two hours of piano post class, Amy ensured that the girls practice that in one sitting.

Right now, Amy’s one daughter is in the University and the other at High School. Both are bright in academics and extracurricular activities. One of the daughters even performed piano at some prestigious Concert. Amy is obviously happy with the way she parented her daughters. Even though, Tiger Mom grabbed headlines in the West for their nontraditional, and often criticized, approach to parenting. The subsequent media frenzy surrounding these figures and the ideas they espoused, however, largely overlooked the very voices and opinions of the children in question.

Can’t Tell for sure, what Amy’s daughters feel about Tiger Mom’s Hymns

In an interview to a publication in India at Jaipur Literary Fest 2011, Amy told the interviewer that her younger daughter was a sort of rebel to her strict ways. And she had ample difficulties to get her to stick to the strict regimen.

Thus not all kids are happy with the strict parenting. Experts too believe that sometimes such strictness curtails the kid’s natural talents. Amy on this says that Tiger Mom is all about making kids diligent and hardworking; so that in whatever profession they enter as adults, they excel.

Tiger Mother and Wolf Father… Are there critics too?

A product of Tiger Mom and Wolf Dad parenting, Yanna Gong, a 17 year old High School student, has come up with a new book on University Entrance Exam in China, Gaokao. China Books, an imprint of Sinomedia International Group, will publish Gaokao: A Personal Journey Behind China’s Examination Culture in May 2014.


As said, Yanna Gong is a product of Tiger mom parenting; hence it’s quite improbable that a kid who has listened to Tiger mom and Wolf Dad for more than a decade and half; will be critical of  the strictness. Whether that be of her mom or dad, or of some Examination Process. Habits don’t go that easily.

Not in this case though. The book, according to the author is a study into this traditional way of parenting, its repercussions and why it still attractive to Chinese parents.

This became quite evident by reading the summary description for the book. 17 year old Yanna Gong’s book Gaokao: A Personal Journey Behind China’s Examination Culture, will address the phenomenon of the Tiger Mother and Wolf Father in the context of the Gaokao.

Regarding the book Gong writes

“For me, this book is not just an academic investigation into the Chinese educational system—it is personal. It helped me understand why my brother and I were raised the way we were, and enabled me to glimpse the cultural forces that shaped my parents’ approach to the world.”

Through extensive research, first hand interviews and her own personal experience growing up in a Chinese household in Minnesota, Gong seeks to show readers the repercussions of the national obsession that has become the Gaokao and why it remains so important in China today.

About Yanna Gong:

Yanna Gong is a high school senior from Eden Prairie, Minnesota. She has been recognized both in the United States and China for her literary accomplishments, winning awards at the 2011 National Peace Essay Competition, the International Chinese Youth Essay Competition and the 2010 Second Amendment Essay Competition. She enjoys traveling with her family and performing volunteer work. She will be attending university in the fall of 2014. This is her first book.

To conclude

Parenting can broadly be divided into two categories: Strict and Soft.

To a degree parents adopt good things from both the styles. But there are also some parents who go overboard with strictness, only to face the negative repercussions like Child’s alienation,  stiffing his/her creativity etc. Amy Chua’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Yanna Gong’s Gaokao: A Personal Journey Behind China’s Examination Culture give the parents an opportunity to tread on the middle path. That’s not too strict and not too lenient.

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