Ever since its publication last year, the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua and the kind of forceful parenting described therein has become a matter of discussion, criticism and controversy.
The book looks at the way that children who are raised by ‘Tiger Moms’ in the way that Chinese parents are often known to bring up their children, may have higher expectations and standards set for them when compared with more liberal (read Western) upbringing.
However, recent research has indicated that ‘Tiger Mom’ parenting may not be all that it is cracked up to be and that pushy or strict parenting may increase depression and lower self esteem in children.
Supposed Pros of ‘Tiger Parenting’
It is true that more Asian children seem to become spelling wizards, or math toppers or music prodigies compared with kids with Western backgrounds, with the former frequently outperforming the latter. This is often ascribed to the style of parenting that such high achieving children have.
Supporters of this style of parenting say that this can lead to well behaved children and children who are high achievers. However critics say that a harsh style of parenting only produces high achievers because the child is constantly striving to get the parent’s approval rather than trying to achieve success for themselves.
Sure, tiger moms can bring up kids to be obedient, but is that strictly good for the kids? What about their creativity, their need to explore the world; enjoy doing things that make them happy?
The Argument against Tiger Parenting
Recent research has found that while Western kids may not be happier than Chinese kids per se, any style of parenting that puts too much pressure on a child could mean an unhappy child; even a depressed child.
The study conducted by Desiree Qin at a New York high school found that high achiever students tended to be more anxious than their other kids who were under less pressure. There apparently is too much attention given to academics, and that is one of the most important concerns of the parents of high achievers. The implication of tiger parenting is that if a child gets bad grades, they are likely to be deviant or badly behaved in other way as well.
This is what has led to more conflict in Chinese-American homes than those of European descent. The conclusion that the study arrived at is that the child may be a high achiever, but perhaps not a very content or happy child.