Beware the cubs who come back to bite their tiger parents
Canadian-Vietnamese Jennifer Pan resorted to murder after years of faking grades, a university degree and even a job to please her demanding parents
Some Asian parents like to tell scary stories to children if they don’t behave. Now, perhaps the children can reciprocate with the real-life crime story of Jennifer Pan, who may serve as a bogeyman for overzealous disciplinary parents obsessed with academic success for their offspring.
The 28-year-old Canadian-Vietnamese woman was sentenced to life in prison without parole for 25 years in January 2015 for hiring hitmen to kill her parents in their Toronto home. Her mother died but her father survived.
Now, a new book has come out chronicling her tragic life and horrible crime. For all those who have been inspired by Amy Chua’s tiger-parenting style, they should read A Daughter’s Deadly Deception , by Canadian journalist Jeremy Grimaldi, as a cautionary tale.
By all accounts, Pan was the “golden girl” and model student until she reached grade nine, or the start of high school in Canada. Her grades started to decline, though they were still respectable in the range B minus to B. But her father, a first-generation immigrant from Vietnam, demanded straight As. So, for the rest of her high school career, she faked all her report cards.
Her father wanted her to study pharmacy at the University of Toronto. For years, she pretended to go to the prestigious university but instead spent hours on most days at public libraries. She would even take notes from physics and chemistry books to make it look more convincing to her parents at home.
She even faked her university graduation and claimed to be working at a hospital. But what pushed her over the edge was her father’s insistence that she break up with her boyfriend. Together, they plotted murder.
Her father was a broken man when he appeared in court to testify against his daughter.
In jail, Pan has no objection to having contact with him, but he has made it known he wants nothing more to do with her.
I ache for Pan and all those hundreds of hours of wasted youth she spent in libraries.
I hope not all Asian families are like that. On a more upbeat note, I have been reading The Wangs vs the World , by Jade Chang, a novel about a Chinese immigrant family on a hilarious road trip across the United States.
I love the father’s idea of the American dream for his children: “Play the guitar and get laid.”