Memo to all current and prospective Tiger Moms: The extreme parenting method doesn't work and may hurt your kids in the long haul, new research suggests.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a Tiger Mom is a fiercely strict mother who pushes her children to work hard at their studies and even restricts their free time so they can continually achieve high grades. Think helicopter parenting meets the U.S. Marine Corps.
The concept of Tiger Moms came into existence with the publication of the parenting memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua in 2011. The Yale professor based the book on her experiences of raising two daughters with her non-Asian husband. Chua's methods included banning TV and frivolous social activities such as sleepovers, exacting harsh punishments for weak grades and even shaming her daughters when they failed to live up her high expectations.
Was Chua a tough mom? She readily acknowledges that at one point during her daughters' upbringing she threatened to burn all their stuffed animals.
Many parenting experts expressed horror at Chua's seemingly ruthless methodology, but it's tough to argue with results. Besides attaining near-perfect grades, her eldest daughter Sophia played the classical piano at Carnegie Hall at age 14 and was later accepted into both Harvard and Yale. Sophia's younger sister Louisa is a violin prodigy who has never received any grade below an A. Well, turns out the Tiger Mom phenomenon was also of great interest to Su Yeong Kim, professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas, who has spent the past decade documenting the lifestyles of more than 300 Asian-American families. Kim finally published her extensive study and the results do not bode well for the extreme-parenting method.
The recently released study showed that an unhealthy percentage of children of parents whom Kim had classified as "Tiger" parents had lower academic achievement and attainment – along with increased psychological maladjustment – and family alienation than the kids of parents characterized as "supportive" and "easygoing."
In simpler terms, many Tiger Mom offspring had worse grades and were more depressed and alienated from their parents. Kids of slacker parents, meanwhile, often did better in school, were less prone to depression and felt a solid bond with their mother and father.
But as with all parenting matters, the study results are up for debate. Would you consider extreme parenting to raise your child?