Do you have a tiger mom?
My mother isn’t quite of the sort, though I certainly received more discipline and was forced to focus on academics more than most any of my schoolmates. But she wasn’t a tiger mother to the extent that many of my friends’ mothers were. You can often tell which had them by the kids’ accomplishments – excellent grades, perfect SAT scores, excellence at musical instruments, polite to a fault – all signs that you had a tiger mother.
Of course, like another Asian concept, yin and yang, growing up this way isn’t all roses, though it may look so on the outside. Where perfection (at least in the eyes of parents) reigns, the child may be troubled by feelings of disappointment and lack of love, and may end up becoming overly cold or hot and arrogant or self-conscious.
Enter Yukino Yukinoshita.
The beautiful and frigid (matching her name) character for OreGairu can easily be pegged as the result of such parenting from her outward characteristics – all those around her are in awe or envy of her perfection. But we know something further, too – that she’s been oppressed by her mother, whom both her and sister vivacious sister, Haruno, fear. And while worldly success is withing easy reach for the sisters, the more we know of them, the more we see how flawed they are, with the author pointing toward their mother as the instigator of these problems
In fact, when Haruno wants to hurt Yukino, she points toward her sister’s relationship with their mom. In volume eight of the light novel (episode 4 of season 2), as the two bicker, Haruno candidly expresses the following to her:
How precise a dig! Haruno A) relates Yukino to the one person she despises/fears above others by saying B) she is becoming someone of low character by C) imitating their tiger mother.
In the series and light novels, we don’t know much more about the relationship between Yukino and her mom (though the anime introduces her visibly to the series). I wonder if their relationship is entirely icy – or was there a point where the chill was thawed, or where there was even warmth between the two?
In parenting, it’s very easy to fall toward one extreme or another. It takes constant strength and energy and wisdom to make good, conscious decisions instead of going on default. And more than that, it takes humility. I know this firsthand as I often veer toward being a tiger dad, expecting a lot out of my children and feeling that, hey, disciplined worked for me so it’ll work for you, too! Pride gets in the way of grace, and love for our children can easily turn into something that isn’t love at all.
The gospel message teaches us that going to that extreme – being a tiger mom – isn’t the answer. God models such for us. While we lead our children along a correct path (which should be gospel-centered, not worldly), which requires discipline and correction, we can’t lose focus and become caught up in our own methods. Because as people could never find a way to holiness, neither can children become perfect through hard-nosed parenting. We are a limited people in need of grace, lest we become robotic like Yukino, unable to express her emotions to others, unable to come to grips with them herself, unable to give kindness freely.
And in trying to create a perfect son or daughter, our imperfect self and imperfect methods develop what we should expect – more imperfection. The only one perfect is God, though our pride may tell us that we’re the perfect parent, not Him.
The conclusion, then, in OreGairu speak is this:
Graciously, [insert your name] put aside her prideful tiger tendencies for a better way.