Singapore has established a reputation as a top performer in international student assessment tests and rankings, which is usually understood to be the result of a competitive education system and a distinct Asian parenting culture. Drawing on ethnographic data, the aim of the article is to explore the emotional and moral dimensions of Singaporean parents’ educational work, and how they cope with complex and sometimes contradictory demands in raising their young children. The article is based on interviews and observations with parents of pre- and primary school-aged children. The reasons for focusing specifically on this category of parents was that previous research indicates that parental involvement in children’s education in Singapore is most intense during this period, and that parents everywhere are faced with increasing expectations to attend to their young children’s learning and cognitive development. The findings contest simplistic interpretations of intensive parenting in East Asia, especially when considering the role of social class, gender and generational change.