Are your parents Asian immigrants? Have you gotten A’s your entire life? Do you play a classical music instrument such as piano or violin? Were you not allowed to have sleepovers or watch TV as a child? Do you have high standardized test scores or attend a top 20 college?
If any of these criteria apply to you, you have probably been raised by “tiger parents.
Coined by Amy Chua in her controversial memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, “tiger parenting” is a form of strict parenting that draws from Confucian ideals such as obeying elders in the name of filial piety and achieving academic and career success.
Because this parenting style is most common among Asian-American families, Asian-Americans are one of the highest-earning income groups in the United States. Asian-American students consistently flood the Ivy League and other top universities.
Although raising children under a “tiger parenting” style can yield financial and scholarly achievement, it often causes psychological and emotional damage. Asian-American children are exceedingly prone to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and suicide ideation.
Do the potential benefits from a “tiger parenting” upbringing outweigh the harmful effects? In the following list, I will discuss some of the pros and cons of “tiger parenting.” Is it a good method of raising children? Let’s find out!
1 Pro: Attending Top Universities and Securing Highest Paying Jobs
The emphasis Asian parents place on education has led to a disproportionate amount of Asians at America’s best colleges. At Harvard, for example, 25% of the student body consists of Asians while Asians make up only 5% of the US population. At prestigious public schools like The University of California, Berkeley, and The University of California, Los Angeles, there is an even larger percentage of Asians—over 40%. Attending top universities gives Asian-Americans the knowledge and prestige to pursue distinguished job positions, such as doctors, lawyers, software engineers, and management consultants.
2 Con: Lack of Social, Emotional, and Creative Development
Children raised under “tiger parents” often lack emotional intelligence and soft-skills. These skills are crucial for securing job positions, working harmoniously with peers, and forming lasting relationships. First-generation Asian parents emphasize perfecting core subjects like math and science. This prevents children from ever branching out and trying less-traditional pursuits such as theater, art, or athletics. Even in “artistic” endeavors like music, “tiger parents” are more focused on their children perfecting existing pieces rather than crafting their own. As Sandra Tsing Loh from The Atlantic writes: “Art isn’t about numbers. In the end, there was only one Mozart, and he wasn’t Chinese.”
3 Pro: Parental Support and Cultivating a Determined Attitude
In Asian-American families, children are taught to rely on their families. As a result, many Asian-American students view parental support as a benefit rather than a hindrance. In one study, 117 high school students were asked to solve an impossible puzzle. They were then asked to take a break, describe their mother, and attempt to solve the puzzle again. After the Asian-American students thought of their moms, they showed more resolve to solve the puzzle. When the European-American students thought of their mothers, however, they showed less motivation to solve the puzzle thereafter. Although the pressure from Asian parents is overbearing at times, it can motivate children in their times of hardship.
4 Con: “Gas Lighting” and Overdependence on Parents
While having parents to depend on is helpful, it can also have harmful effects if taken to the extreme. “Tiger parents” will often exert overwhelming control over the lives of their children, causing their children to be completely dependent on them for support. “Tiger parents” will withdraw love and induce guilt to make their children feel obligated to stay with them—a tactic known as “gaslighting.”
Whether “tiger parenting” is completely wrong or right is hard to say. I am personally against it because while it can secure a “good life” for Asian children, the psychological damage it causes is often irreversible and lifelong. Asian parents, however, cannot fully be blamed, as they were often raised by “tiger parents” themselves and are just doing what they believe is best for their children. What are your thoughts and opinions about “tiger parenting?” Let us know in the comments below!