Read a roundtable with its founders here, or see new stories in the Parenting logo Interest section. The first major study of tiger moms is out.
The kids have worse grades, and they are more depressed and more alienated from their parents. When Amy Chua’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother came out in 2011, it sparked controversy among many people but especially psychologists and experts in child development. I actually have data for this! An associate professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas, Kim had been following more than 300 Asian-American families for a decade when the book came out. For Kim’s study, parents and children answered questions during the children’s adolescence about their parenting styles. 45,000 in each of the study’s three phases, spaced out equally over eight years.
Three-quarters of their kids were American-born. Kim wanted to look at a particular paradox that had emerged in the academic literature regarding Asian-American parents. Kim did not feel that any of these descriptions quite matched what she had experienced growing up. Yet, their kids were outperforming whites in school. Kim decided that for her study, she would both parse further the different dimensions of the Eurocentric profiles and create new ones that better fit the styles of the East Asian families. Warmth, reasoning, monitoring, and democratic parenting were considered positive attributes, while hostility, psychological control, shaming, and punitive measures were considered negative. Kim also measured the outcomes for each of her categories.
Our data shows Tiger parenting produces the opposite effect. Not just the general public but Asian-American parents have adopted this idea that if I’m a tiger parent, my kids will be whizzes like Chua’s kids. Unfortunately, tiger children’s GPA’s and depressive symptoms are similar to those whose parents who are very harsh. Tiger parenting doesn’t produce superior outcomes in kids. Correction, May 10, 2013: This article originally and mistakenly stated that the study controlled for sibling order.