In 2011, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was published, a book by Amy Chua on Chinese-American parenting styles. In this book, the author talked about a very specific and strict approach to parenting, which included fear and shame. This approach includes pushing and pressuring children to attain high levels of academic achievement, or success in extracurricular activities such as music, by using authoritarian parenting methods.
The term “Tiger Mother” was first introduced by Chua to describe a mother who is a strict disciplinarian. Although a largely Chinese-American concept, the term draws parallels to strict parenting styles ostensibly enforced throughout households in East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.
Chua, a mother of two, claims that these strict policies are the reason why her children have been very successful in school and in their music studies. She argues that this type of parenting is common in Asian families. However, many readers have criticised Chua by saying that it is from her personal experience, and not from scientific research.
The pros and cons of tiger parenting
Using strict and demanding parenting styles comes with many advantages and disadvantages.
Tiger parenting usually leads children to success. It gives the “tiger babies” an opportunity to train their own disciplines.
However, children of tiger parenting often have to detach from their emotions. They, sometimes, ignore their physical pains, too.
Children of tiger parents reported higher rates of depressive symptoms than children with easy-going or supportive parents, as well as higher levels of academic pressure, and feelings of alienation from parents. The kids are so focused on getting good grades or achieving academic goals set by their parents that they often don’t get the chance, or forget to enjoy life.
Dealing with tiger parents
Living in a South Asian country, a lot of us are familiar with this concept — the intense pressure from parents to get straight A’s, being compared to friends who get better grades, and guilt-tripping children with how much they invest in our studies and our future.
Growing up, having hobbies that made me happy was something that I needed to hide because my parents would never approve. Too many rules ruined it all.
So, how do we let our parents know that their techniques do more harm than good?
Here’s where dolphin parenting comes in. Dolphin parenting focuses on raising children in a balanced style, which means: Not too strict, while still having rules, and being supportive but not overprotective.
Or, in Amy’s words, elephant parenting is also something parents can look to. Elephant parents are those who believe that they need to nurture, protect, and encourage their children, especially when they’re still impressionable and very, very young; which is not something you see often in Asian countries.
It helps parents raise emotionally stable and compassionate children. The parent-child bond becomes stronger, and both parties learn to trust each other. It results in healthier minds and bodies. Encouraging and supporting children from a young age goes a long way.
So, go ahead, educate your parents and yourself about the different parenting styles. And, most importantly, good luck, tiger babies!