Last month, the infamous tiger mom Amy Chua and her husband Jed Reubenfeld released another book that elicited controversy. The Yale Law professors’ latest book, “The Triple Package,” provides a theory and evidence as to why certain minority groups seem to succeed in the United States.
In summary, the three characteristics that make up this triple package are a superiority complex, insecurity and impulse control. Unfortunately, success does not equal happiness, and an increased emphasis in these characteristics would cause our society to lose a really great thing. The Triple Package is missing one thing: an education in everything else.
Growing up in a Vietnamese household, I was exposed to this triple package mentality. My parents always expected excellence from me. It wasn’t this learn-to-read-and-do-calculus from the time I was little, but I spent most of my childhood working hundreds of extra math problems and doing dozens of reading passages. As a result, I was put in “gifted and talented” classes.
As kids, we took pride in being GT students. For every good grade I got, there were several of my other classmates who did better. My parents expected me to do well, but always compared me to my peers or their friends’ kids. And that continued through elementary school, middle school and high school.
And finally impulse control. My parents weren’t exactly the most permissive. I was banned from sleepovers and only recently began to watch the classic movies such as “The Breakfast Club” and “Grease.”
I’m not saying I had a bad childhood. My parents really love me, and they’re truly my biggest fans, but looking back, I realized I missed out on a lot of things because I was raised with these triple package mentalities. My childhood wasn’t filled with memories of having a best friend whose home became my second home. It wasn’t full of adventures with my neighbors or late nights on the phone with my friends. Instead, my classmates and I competed against one another.
I’ve been asked several times by my friends if I would ever raise my children in the environment my parents raised me in. My cousin, who was raised in a similar environment, said he would. He was accepted to UT Southwestern Medical School as a third-year college student from out of state. It works. In the past, I was always quick to say I would never subject my children to the environment I grew up in, but now I don’t know. I think I would want my children to have a holistic childhood with a lot of different opportunities to make mistakes and understand themselves.
For me, one of my defining moments was when I left home for the first time in high school to attend a residential high school. With the exception of a couple of weekend retreats, this was the first time I lived away from home, but that’s where I found myself. I could go on for hours about the memories I made. For every one memory I had from before I left home, I can name five from the two years I attended that high school. For once, I could actually go out with my friends. I learned there can be compromise between working hard and having fun. I learned that we can work as hard as we can, but sometimes a break is warranted. We’re not going to remember every single grade on every single test, but we will remember the time we pulled an all-nighter because classes got canceled, and we wanted to experience the snow early in the morning.
I owe much of my success to my parents and to their parenting, but I had to leave home to find out who I was because while I was at home, I was being put into a triple package mold. One that I didn’t fit. I’m never going to be the Asian child my parents can brag about to their friends, but I think I’ve found a balance, and I believe there can be a medium between the characteristics of the triple package and just enjoying our youth.
It’s not a fun feeling to be raised in this environment. It’s actually pretty depressing. Chua and Reubenfeld even have statistics in their book to support this. Happiness and life skills are important aspects of development as well.
When I wake up years from now, I want to know that I am more than the career I’ve chosen. I want to know that I did more than follow steps 1, 2, 3 and so on. I want to be able to look back on my years in college, laugh at my mistakes and smile over my experiences, even if that means I no longer possess the entire triple package.
Linda Nguyen is a junior neuroscience major from Missouri City. She is the Copy Desk Chief for The Lariat.