Education Mama

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    EducationMama 9170.png
    "The first day of kindergarten, I watched all the parents say 'have fun!' when dropping off their kids for the first time. My mom said to me, 'Alan. Today is the first day of school. You will do well. Go to Harvard. Become good doctor. Make money.'"

    The diametric opposite of the Open-Minded Parent is the Education Mama, a mother (and it's usually a mother) who is obsessed with her children's education and pushes them to succeed academically, no matter the cost. She will shell out thousands of dollars to send her kids to private school or move to another town with good schools, and her kids will be forced to surrender their social lives in the pursuit of good grades. And God help her kids if any of them gets anything less than a B. This trope is especially pervasive in East Asian families, to the point where it's become a stereotype that all Asian parents are like this. Such parents have been given the name "Tiger Moms."

    Contrast: Parental Abandonment, Open-Minded Parent. Compare: Jewish Mother. Can turn your child into a "Well Done, Son" Guy if all goes according to plan. If it goes pear-shaped, it can lead to a You Are Grounded moment, or worse still, teen angst or teen rebellion. In the worst cases, particularly in East Asia, the end result is attempted suicide, the Hikikomori, or even snap violence against the parents.

    The Stage Mom is when this trope is applied to performing arts instead of academics.

    Not to be confused with Cooking Mama.

    Examples of Education Mama include:


    • There's a commercial where two parents do a cheerleading routine for their two kids, all about studying hard and passing. Mighta been a Staples "Easy Button" commercial.
    • This Tim Hortons commercial has a Chinese son and father at the grandson's hockey game. In the flashback, the father often berated his son for playing hockey when he should be studying. It was revealed that the father would secretly watch all his son's hockey games And now, he proudly watched as his grandson played.

    Anime and Manga

    • Mrs. Yamada in Tonari no Yamada-kun is a classic example.
    • ChiChi in Dragonball Z acts like this towards her eldest son, Gohan, wanting him to be a scholar and avoid the violent lifestyle of his father. In the end, Gohan becomes a scholar (though he still enjoys martial arts), and she ends up pushing martial arts training on her second son Goten much the same way. To be fair to Chichi, Gohan himself repeatedly states that he likes being a scholar, and she actually trains Goten personally for a bit.
    • Yukimitsu's mother in Eyeshield 21. She doesn't even know he's on the football team, because he's been telling her he's at cram school, although when she learns about it, she takes it rather well.
      • The only reason she DOES take it well is because the team is a championship caliber team and so looks even better for college entry: A student pulling in nothing but As? Dime-a-dozen. An all-A student who also plays high-level sports? That's a fierce combination for college application. If the team had sucked you'd can bet your arse she'd have come down on him like a ton o' bricks.
    • Sailor Moon: In Ami's introduction episode, Beryl and Jadeite discuss "education mothers that are as fierce as demons" before setting up an Evil Plan in a cram school. Still, Usagi's mother Ikuko is shown as being somewhat more of an Education Mama, as well as Ami's own mother Dr. Saeko Mizuno in the live-action series.
    • Miyuki Gotou of Noein starts off this way toward her son Yuu, even cutting him off from his friends so he can study more, to the point where he was clinically depressed and showing signs of incipient psychosis. Thankfully, she lightens up later in the series, after a Journey to the Center of the Mind.
    • Pokémon: The mother of one of May's earlier coordinator rivals also was like that, as a cover for her own childhood traumas with her parents.
    • X 1999: Male example: Satsuki's father. She ultimately gets so fed up that she uses her computer skills to arrange Mr. Yatouji's death in an accident.
    • Digimon Adventure
      • Another male example: Jyou Kido's father, a well-known doctor, pushed all of his three sons to become medics. The eldest, Shin, complied but chose to work abroad rather than with him; the middle son, Shuu, successfully rebelled against him and is studying Digimon; and Jyou actually reached a compromise with Dad and became a doctor out of his own will, but in Jyou's own terms—specifically, he became the very first doctor in the Digital World, according to the epilogue.
      • It's hinted that Sora Takenouchi's Yamato Nadeshiko mother, Toshiko, was like this before the girl was spirited to the Digital World. Add a well-intentioned but workaholic father who works in Kyoto and, well, poor Sora had huge identity issues that took quite a while to be resolved.
    • Marmalade Boy: Kei's parents were like that at first, but more in the art fields since Kei was an excellent pianist. That led to Kei running away from his parents and become extremely selfish and possessive of Miki, the first real friend he's had. Later, though, they make amends.
    • Paradise Kiss: Yukari's mother Yasuko.
    • Fushigi Yuugi: Miaka's mother. The manga hints that she became like that after her traumatic divorce.
    • Male example: Kyouya's father in Ouran High School Host Club.
    • Shizuru Kuwabara of Yu Yu Hakusho adopts this role for her younger brother Kazuma in the Three Kings Saga, wanting him to get a good education and job. From what we see of Kuwabara later (which isn't much), she succeeded.
    • Bakuman。
      • Takagi's mother is this, for which he consistently scored top in his school, but the pressure of it all leading him to rebel by choosing a career in Manga. This was confronted early in the series when he said he's go to the same cheap college as Mashiro so he could skip classes when needed and focus on writing manga.
        • It's implied that she wanted him to study so that he can "avenge" his father, who was fired from his job after Taking the Heat for his boss. However, when he called her out on this, she was apparently willing to allow him to live as he wanted. His mother apparently has no such standards for Akito's older brother, who is fooling around in college around the start of the series.
      • Mashiro's mother also follows this in the early parts of the series; she's the only one in the household who doesn't approve of Mashiro's goals to be a manga writer and constantly encourages him to study instead. When she notices him playing video games instead of studying, she angrily tells him he won't even get into Minami high if he continues at that rate.
    • In The World God Only Knows, Yui's mother is an overbearing one, not letting her daughter do anything she disapproves of, forcing Yui to become a Yamato Nadeshiko. Not strictly academic education but Tropes Are Flexible.
    • One of the stand-alone stories in Mitsukazu Mihara's IC in a Doll had a woman who would give her son a timed math-test every morning and yell at him when he cried or was two seconds slower than her friends' children. It turns out this is out of stress; partly because she thinks her husband is cheating on her (actually, no. He's a crossdresser and the lipstick stains and perfume on his clothes is from him) and partly because she has a bit of an inferiority complex. It didn't end well.
    • Taichi's mother in Chihayafuru, but extends to any competition (just look at all the trophies and certificates in that one room of his house!). Ever since Taichi was little, his mother always wanted him to be the best at everything he did, so much she would chastise him harshly for not getting first place. Chihaya personally calls her "Mrs. Pressure" because of all the stress Taichi gets from living up to his mother's expectations.
    • Kei Yuzuki's mother from Vampire Princess Miyu. Not helped by him being both Book Dumb and The Unfavorite compared to his brother and sister.

    Comic Books

    • Young Justice: The reluctant superheroine Arrowette had this problem with her mother, who was once the original Arrowette.
    • Watchmen: Laurie "Silk Spectre II" Juspeczyk had this problem with her mother, the original Silk Spectre.
      • Though played oddly in that her education is primarily focused on being a Superhero.


    • The Breakfast Club: Brian's Jerk Asses of parents are like this, pushing him to study as hard as possible and dropping several metric tons of pressure on him. At the beginning of the film, his Mom even coldly orders him to "find a way to study" while he's in Saturday Detention. When Brian gets an F on a project he made for shop, he winds up taking it very badly.
      • Also Andrew's father, who mixes this with Stage Dad. He pushes Andrew to be the best sportsman and captain of the wrestling club as well as totally Rated "M" for Manly, complains about Andy's school rep when he gets detention and it's due to his "advice" that Andrew gets the inspiration for the prank that got him detained at school in the first place.
    • In The Langoliers, during one character's psychotic breakdown, we see that his father was this trope, Up to Eleven. The lecture the father gives for a B is roughly equivalent to any other parent lecturing for getting an F.
    • Akeelah and the Bee has a male Japanese version in the form of the main rival's father. Luckily, all was resolved by both of them winning the contest.
    • Election: Tracy's mother.
    • Dead Poets Society: Neil Perry's father. It gets worse.
    • Mud's dad in Camp Nowhere. To be fair, Mud is a smart and proactive kid, but his dad keeps complaining that Mud has wasted potential, and repeatedly does all that he can to get Mud to grow up as soon as possible (and for the record, Mud is 12). Mud eventually learns to stand up to his dad, and does so at the end of the movie.


    • Little Men: one of the titular Men, Billy, had a education papa who drove his promising student son to mental handicapping and physical frailty and then dropped him off at boarding school in shame.
    • Little House on the Prairie: Ma Ingalls, who was a teacher as a young woman and hoped to have one of her daughters follow in her footsteps. Her main reason for wanting her husband to choose a place to settle down, already, was so her four daughters could get a stable education.
    • Widow Kang from Years of Rice and Salt mercilessly drills her youngest son in the Confucian classics, in order to make a proper scholar out of him.
    • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: Katie Nolan is told by her immigrant mother that education is the key to rising in America, and to that end, she should make her kids stay in school longer than she did and read them a page a day from the Bible and the collected works of Shakespeare. How well this is or isn't working is a constant source of worry for her.
    • Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother: This is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs. This was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones. But instead, it’s about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how I was humbled by a thirteen-year-old. The subtitle pretty much says it all.

    Live Action TV

    • Lost: Western example: Eloise Hawking combines this with neglect and emotional abuse.
    • Cold Case: In "Knuckle Up", the victim's father sends his son into a private prep school and obsesses over his grades. It didn't end well after the son lashed out on him and left, marking this occasion as the last time he saw his son alive.
    • Law and Order SVU: A pre-teen girl is murdered. Her father epitomized this trope. She and her sister were forced to kneel on grains of rice on the basement floor while their father drilled them on different topics. It turns out that a schoolmate from her incredibly prestigious school (who had been up for over a week via drugs studying for exams) snapped and killed her out of jealousy. So basically there was an entire school full of kids with parents like this.
    • A second-season episode of Law and Order featured an Education Mama who also had a large helping of racism against Asians. When her son's Asian-American classmate looked like he was going to beat him for a prestigious scholarship, she murdered him.
    • Glee: Subverted with Mike Chang's mother but played straight with his father.
    • MacGyver: Ma Colton when it comes to the education of her youngest son Billy. She seems to have given up on the older two.

    Video Games

    • Persona
      • In Persona 3, the mother of seven year-old Maiko forces her to attend cram school and other lessons constantly, on top of neglecting household chores like laundry that Maiko is forced to do in her place. (And that pressure is on top of the stress she faces dealing with her parents' bitter divorce.) Fuuka Yamagishi's parents similarly obsess over her education due to their own inferiority complexes, to the point that one of the reasons she participates in SEES is to escape from them. Another student from Gekkoukan High also complains about her parents being like this, forcing her to do nothing but study in her free time.
      • Returns in Persona 4. Shu is a kid who is under pressure from his mom to be the best. This leads him to cheating on a test and expulsion, though with the Protagonist's help, he gets over this.
    • Luis Lopez's mother in The Ballad of Gay Tony has a hard time trying to convince Luis of going to school.
    • Lan/Netto's mother Haruka in Mega Man Battle Network is a benign version of this. Yes, she harps on Lan to get his schoolwork done constantly, but this is a good thing, because he has a severe case of Brilliant but Lazy.

    Web Original


    • Nanase's mother in El Goonish Shive. They're not in Japan, but could possibly be second-generation immigrants.
    • Emily's mother in Misfile, mainly because she had to drop out of school to take care of Emily at a young age.

    Western Animation

    • King of the Hill: Kahn. His wife Mihn is like this to a lesser extent, but Kahn is always pushing his daughter to study, learn, and practice the violin. Worse still, it isn't even for her benefit. Kahn sees an intelligent, successful daughter as a requirement for the "perfect life" he's been seeking, so he can rub it in the faces of everyone he knew growing up. Also, his father-in-law was famous general who seems to view him with contempt.
    • Implied in an episode of The Littles with an "education papa". When the episode begins, he threatens to send his daughter to a private school "where [her] friends won't be such a bad influence on [her]", unless she gets straight A's on her report card, resulting in her running away from home.
    • In Batman Beyond, one episode had a Valedictorian student whose mother was like this. He had the second-best score on a school-wide test, falling short of Max, and his mother considered it terrible. The show, however, demonstrates why this attitude was bad; her strict upbringing drove him to become a member of the Jokerz just to have some freedom.
    • One of Virgil's classmates in Static Shock has an Education Papa. Virgil sees his father studying with him and berating him one day when the poor guy got a 99 on an essay.

    "Dad, it's just one point."
    "One point away from a perfect score!"

    • Mrs. Ping of Detentionaire, to the point that she's a teacher at Lee's school.

    Real Life

    • The documentary film Race To Nowhere is a refreshingly frank condemnation of this trope's transformation into a cultural phenomenon, taking its entire duration to deconstruct the entire concept, manages to lay bare its oft-overlooked detrimental consequences that burden the children raised this way, haunting them for the rest of their lives.
    • One of the kids profiled in The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids had one of these from hell, leading his younger brother to later call social services.
    • Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a (tongue-in cheek) how-to guide for Education Mamas. The book chronicles her attempt to raise her children in the standard Chinese overachiever tradition (but in America!), and the inevitable culture clash than ensues:

    When Western parents think they're being strict, they usually don't come close to being Chinese mothers. For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments thirty minutes every day. An hour at most. For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part. It's hours two and three that get tough.

    • It is generally believed that Ludwig van Beethoven's father beat his son to make him practice. However, this is disputed by some historians.
    • A extreme and tragic case of Truth in Television: Esmie Tseng's parents pushed her to her limits - where she was threatened with grounding if she got below 96% on her exams - to the point where she lashed out and fatally stabbed her mother.
    • Chinese-American Christina H weighs in. The article was sort of in response to Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, but based on the assumption that people were taking it dead serious.
    • The "hardass immigrant parent" stereotype is inverted by British comedian Shappi Khorsandi, who says that she wanted to be a doctor, but her Iranian parents pushed her into show business.
    • Parents of mentally gifted children often fall into this role, encouraging their kids to work to the best of their abilities. This can lead to major anxiety problems, with the children believing that they have to be completely perfect at all times or their have failed their family/wasted their potential.
    • A "good" example would be China's Mencius. Legend says his mother moved 3 times (In an age before U-Haul) to make sure had a good educational environment. Worked out pretty well.
    • It's a rising trend in India for kids to be pressured by parents and colleges into getting way into the 90%+ on important exams. There are a bunch of colleges that actually have cut-off lists at 90%. And sadly enough it's gotten worse despite the rising cases of teen suicides all around exam or results time.
    • In recent years, the "first-generation" college student has become something of a trope in itself, folded into this. Normally, the student will mention that they're the first member of their family who has had the opportunity to get a college education, and it's revealed that the parents are like this, often because they are encourage the child to appreciate an opportunity that they themselves were denied during their youth. For a lot of people, this is Truth in Television, and it can be frustrating when a professional career counselor tells incoming college freshman to start looking at internships and part-time jobs to build up work experience, and the parents rather stubbornly keep telling them "no, you're going to focus on your studies, you'll have plenty of time to work the rest of your life."