Singaporean Tiger Mums

Singaporean Tiger Mums are best known for putting their children through ‘harsh regiments’ to achieve scholastic success.

Armed with sharp wit and an acerbic tongue, she’s quick to comment on your dating life and changes in your appearance.

If you grew up with a Singaporean Tiger Mum, chances are you’d be familiar with these 14 sayings.

On Appearance

1. “Eat more you’re too skinny”

There’s a saying the Singapore Tiger Mum feeds the people she loves and there’s no one she loves more than her children.

While heaping second and third portions of food onto your plate, she’d comment you’ve lost weight, especially if you’ve been away from home for awhile.

But watch out, if you actually put on weight, she’d be the first person to tell you “You’ve gotten fat.”

2. “Why your boobs so small?”

The Singapore Tiger Mum might point to your chest and lament how you need to drink more papaya milk while heaping chicken onto your plate.

Though us small-breasted girls may be okay with our average chest size, our mums still stick to the idea ‘big boobs are better for attracting men and rearing children’.

3. “Go put on some clothes”

But if you have boobs, God forbid you to show off your assets.

Most Singapore Tiger Mums grew up in a more conservative era. To them, the denim shorts and cropped tops we wear today are ‘scandalous and obscene’.

But she’s judging our fashion choices only because she doesn’t want men to stare lecherously at our chests or have us fall prey to unwanted sexual advances. #stillnotaskingforit.

On Discipline

4. “Eat all your food, there are children starving in Africa”

Maybe she’d threaten your partner will have pimples or outright ban you from leaving the table without clearing your plate. Either way, you’ve probably forced yourself to finish your food more often than you’d like.

Secretly, the Singaporean Tiger Mum just doesn’t want her child to go hungry. The satisfaction of watching her baby enjoy and appreciate her cooking makes her feel her labour of love didn’t go to ‘waste’.

5. “Give birth to charsiew also better than give birth to you”

At one point, you’ve probably pissed off your Singapore Tiger Mum doing one thing or another.

She’d have probably screamed this phrase and followed with a variation of “At least if I give birth to charsiew, I can still eat the charsiew.”

6. “If you’re not happy, go join another family”

This line usually preludes “You have to respect me because I’m your mother.” When arguing with your Singapore Tiger Mum, she’d probably remark your ‘talking back’ shows ungratefulness and disrespect.

But she probably doesn’t mean for you to leave home—if anything, she just feels really upset and unappreciated.

7. “You won’t understand until you become a mother”

Usually accompanied by a dramatic sigh and a far-off look, this usually happens when you’re reminiscing the past with your Singapore Tiger Mum.

She’d probably talk about a time when she had to change your diapers or breastfeed you, adding how quickly you’ve outgrown your adorableness.

This is her way of saying you’re her pride and joy and that she loves you very much.

8. “Stop crying before I give you something to cry about”

Girl: “Mum, I’m sad” *cries*
Tiger Mum: “Who ask you to cry?”

Growing up, the Singapore Tiger Mum kept us in line by ‘threatening’ us with beatings if we wouldn’t stop crying ‘for no reason’.

She was probably trying to toughen us up when she wouldn’t pander to our cries for attention. You know she’s only dishing out tough love because she doesn’t want us to grow up ‘spoilt, pampered crybabies’.

9. “You think this house is a hotel, is it?”

As we grow older, our dominant social circles shift from the immediate family to friends. We begin to spend less time at home and the Singapore Tiger Mum is concerned.

She wants us to be safe by not coming home in the wee hours as she’s afraid something bad would happen to us.

She’s also afraid we’d fall into bad company as she can’t ‘monitor our behaviour’ when out with friends.

It might seem like she’s overly-protective and naggy, but the Singapore Tiger Mum is just concerned for our well-being and adjusting to letting us ‘fly from the nest’.

10. “Why you waste money and eat outside?”

Mealtimes are sacred for most Singaporean families. Often, the sit down home-cooked dinner is the only time your Singapore Tiger Mum gets to spend with you.

It’s usually not about the money, but being able to feed the one she loves. She only says this because she wants you to eat home and see you more often.

On Dating

11. “You’re not allowed to have boyfriend until you’re married”

Growing up, the Singaporean Tiger Mum would want you to place education as your first priority. A boyfriend would only ‘distract’ you from your studies and you’re ‘too young to start dating’ anyway.

But know she’s only enforcing strict dating rules because she wants you to ‘achieve your potential’ and excel in your academic career. Her goal is to give you the best head start in life for a ‘good future’.

12. “Do you have a boyfriend already?”

After warning you not to date for most of your life, the Singaporean Tiger Mum is likely to flip the switch when you enter University.

If you bump into and say hi to a male friend when you’re out shopping with your mum, you can bet the minute he turns away, she’d ask “Is that your boyfriend?”

Her logic is you’re ‘ready and mature’ to date and there’s a ‘higher chance you can find a good one in local U’. The Singaporean Tiger Mum is kaypoh about your love life because she wants you to have the best match.

13. “Don’t change boy like you change underwear”

Growing up, it’s unlikely we’d marry our first loves. We’d usually date around till we finally settle down with ‘The One’.

To the Singaporean Tiger Mum who grew up in a more conservative era, having multiple partners before marriage can be seen as detrimental to a girl’s virtue.

She’d nag at us for ‘always changing boyfriends’ because she’s trying to ‘protect our reputation’ and worried we’d get ‘taken advantage of’.

14. “Before marriage, you must open your eyes big big”

After imposing exacting standards on you for your entire life, it seems only fair that the Singaporean Tiger Mum would expect highly of your partner.

When you finally tell her you’ve gotten a boyfriend, she’d bombard you with a million questions—Is he rich? Is he tall? What does he study? How many siblings does he have?

Because of her reactions, it might seem tempting to save yourself the trouble and only introduce your partner to your mum on your wedding day.

But the Singaporean Tiger Mum is only trying to protect her child from getting hurt. She knows relationships aren’t easy and only wants to help you make the right choices.

Appreciating Our Singaporean Tiger Mums

Like typical Asian Dads, Singaporean Tiger Mums go the roundabout way of saying “I love you.” The next time your Mum nags at you, give her a big hug and tell her you love her instead.

Cover image: source