Asian parents, you probably know the feeling of growing up in a set of house rules that are too scary to break because the consequences are unimaginable.
This is called “tiger parenting,” one of the popular Asian parenting styles, especially in Asia. How does tiger parenting affect children’s well-being? Is tiger parenting toxic? Let us see the pros and cons of tiger parenting and whether is it effective in raising a high-achieving child.
What is Tiger Parenting?
Tiger parenting was first introduced in the book named Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother written by Amy Chua based on her experience of raising two daughters.
Many people equate tiger parenting to authoritarian parenting, but there’s actually a distinction between them. While this parenting style requires children to strictly follow a set of rules and regulations and involves high expectations for them, tiger parents will also go beyond any extent to provide love and support for their children and protect them at all cost.
Tiger parenting style has several features, it emphasizes academic achievement, discipline, and punishment. Parents who practice tiger parenting styles are usually strict, goal-driven, and responsive to children’s needs.
Here are the example of common practices found in tiger parenting style:
- Setting the high standard – parents have high expectations in academic performance, e.g scoring “A” on the exam, attaining scholarships, and getting into top-rated schools or universities. Usually, children have to sacrifice their other interests and only manage to focus on school work to achieve these goals.
- Little time for social networking or activities that they like – Children put most of their time in study, and tuition, basically they do not have free time for activities that they like, e.g socializing and participate in activities with their peers.
- Achieving parent’s goal – Most of the time, parents are in full control of decision making and set a goal for their children. Children usually will have to follow what is arranged and set aside their interests and goals. Parents may only show positive behavior if they follow what is arranged.
- Respect is a one-way street – typically, children seldom get positive compliments or praise if they managed to achieve a good result.
- Use shame and guilt as punishment – tiger parents usually respond by using guilt or shame as punishment when their children are underperforming. Children who score lower will equate with less intelligent ( not smart enough). Children who experience humiliation will push themselves harder to achieve a better result.
- Conditional love – Children who are not meeting the high expectations set by their parents will get less affection. If they want to win their parents heart, they need to work hard to earn it.
The Pros of Tiger Parenting – Why Tiger Parenting is Good?
While some people say that tiger parenting somehow damages the special bond between the child and the parents, this method also poses many advantages. Here are some of them:
- Imposes self-discipline among children. In the home of tiger parents, rules are everywhere and these rules must be followed all the time. By constantly following these rules, children learn to appreciate the importance of a disciplined life and impose self-discipline.
- Children can be the best that they can. While tiger parenting may establish among children this constant fear of being punished, this helps them to unleash their true potential and be the best that they can.
- Focused and goal-oriented children. The goal of this parenting method is to produce happy, successful, and well-adjusted adults. In many cases, this goal is achieved with the children becoming happy and successful in their life as adults.
- Children grow up to be responsible adults. Tiger parenting imposes responsibility—children are required to do chores around the house and that hones them to become responsible people when they become adults.
Tiger parenting style always has the intention to raise high achieving children for their future success. However, there are always negative impacts on the child’s well-being and mental health issues associated with it.
The Cons of Tiger Parenting
Tiger parenting isn’t entirely bad, but its negative impact on children cannot be ignored. Here are some of its disadvantages:
- Children are pressured and burdened. While parents’ high hopes for their children mean well, children can become pressured especially when the expectations are sometimes unrealistically high.
- Children live in constant fear. Because of the harsh punishment they would receive, children are always afraid to make even the tiniest mistake, as they don’t want to disappoint their parents, which can lead to long-term anxiety and depression.
- Dependence is seen in some children. Tiger parents tend to be always hovering over their children, always present for constant guidance. This may lead children to be dependent and an inability to make decisions in their adult life.
- It hinders creativity. Following strict life rules remarkably hinders creativity—children tend not to think outside the box anymore and just take what is in front of them.
- Difficult to form a close relationship. Children may have difficulty forming close relationships with others and fending for themselves.
- Affecting self-esteem. Constant shaming and feeling guilty for not achieving what is expected can harm a child’s self-esteem.
About the question mentioned earlier on, is tiger parenting toxic? Studies have shown that the tiger parenting style is not linked to high academic achievement but is associated with higher rates of anxiety and depression.
Is Tiger Parenting Good or Bad?
Do you want to be a tiger mom? Tiger parenting is comprised of high levels of both negative parenting (strict rules, high expectations, etc.) and positive parenting (support, warmth, etc.). Amy Chua claims in her book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother that this parenting style is common in Asian families, and that her strict policies are the reasons why her children did so well in school and music studies. In fact, her book ignited a debate—her supporters claim that she has a good parenting style, while others say that it can negatively impact the mental and emotional well-being of children.
The thing is, parenting styles are like customs wherein it may work in one cultural group and not in another. This happens because parenting goals vary from one culture to another. However, regardless of the parenting style, children need a solid support system that will guide them to be decent human beings in their adult life. They should be given the chance to navigate and discover how life works on their own.
Is Tiger Parenting Effective?
The goal of tiger parenting is to increase the chances of academic success but according to studies, it is not always true. Tiger parenting is also linked to higher academic pressure and low GPA. Researcher actually conclude that tiger parents show the worst developmental outcomes when compared with other parenting styles.
Some children may achieve academic success like Amy Chua’s daughter did but always it comes with a high cost – emotional distress ! Mental health issues shall not be neglected.
Are you a tiger mother? Share your experience with us!
Read more about parenting styles ” Uninvolved parenting affects children“