Image via Time Magazine
- Tiger parenting, a form of authoritarian parenting is common in Asian households.
- Vulnerability in familial relationships is important to ensure children feel safe.
- Opening up to your kids will make them relate to you.
- A good balance between strict and fun is ideal for a healthy parent-child relationship.
As most of us grow up in conservative Asian families, it is so easy to normalise the strict authoritarian parenting and high expectations of our parents.
Tiger parenting is a form of authoritarian parenting. Their strict and demanding parenting usually consist of the parents pushing their children to achieve high levels of academic and extracurricular accomplishments.
For instance, Tiger parents have a lot of rules and micromanage almost every aspect of the child’s life and behaviour. They also tend to punish their children harshly, usually with no explanations on why they did so and, they often use shame as a tactic to force their children into following the rules they set up, using words such as “Why can’t you do anything right?” or “How many times do I have to tell you the same thing?”
With little to no room for negotiation, the children have to follow the rules and expectations of their parents. The question is — are Tiger parents doing it right?
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In 2011, the term ‘Tiger mom’ gained recognition due to a parenting book published by Amy Chua, a Yale law professor.
In her book, she described her way of parenting where she had extremely strict rules and high demands of her daughters — she once told her 4-year-old daughter to re-do a handmade birthday card because it didn’t meet her standards. Although some readers believe her methods were too severe on her children, others justified her actions due to the extraordinary achievements of her daughters.
According to Su Yeong Kim, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas, although this type of strict parenting does result in children that have good academic performance, oftentimes, these children had lower socio-emotional health.
For example, Qing Zhou, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley found that children of Tiger parents showed signs of depression, anxiety and poor social skills.
Hence, we need to redefine our perception of success. If you fail to meet the expectations of your Tiger parents, have you failed in life? Or, if you do have exceptional academic and career performance, is the deterioration of your mental health worth it?
Image via Huffpost Canada
The authoritarian nature of Tiger parents often results in an emotionally distant relationship between parent and child. As a result, children would rather keep their problems to themselves or get advice from their peers instead of consulting with their parents due to the fear of getting in trouble or scolded.
This becomes a problem when the children start lying and keeping secrets from their parents, especially harmful secrets, such as sexual assault or bullying in school. Vulnerability is the way to ensure that children feel safe enough to confide in adults, especially when they’re faced with dangerous situations.
Image via ADDitude
Therefore, if you’re a parent, be vulnerable with your kids by letting them into your life and allowing them to get to know you as a person, not just a parent. When you tell them what makes you sad or scared, they will reciprocate and tell you about their fears as well. It makes you relatable and easy to talk to.
You can also tell them stories of your childhood and how you overcame certain challenges in life. For example, stories about how you got rejected from the volleyball team you really wanted to get in or even, how you lost your first best friend. These stories will not only help them understand you but also, build trust between you and your child.
This way, when your child has a problem or is in trouble, they know that they can share them with you and trust that you will understand them.
The question is — could culture and parenting mix? What is a good in-between for the Tiger parent culture and good parenting?
Image via Penn Today – University of Pennsylvania
There is nothing wrong with being strict with your kids. However, you should recognise when you’re showing signs of being too strict (authoritarian) and putting a strain on your relationship with your kids. Some signs include, your kids lie a lot, you have a long list of rules, you don’t let your kids do things their way and your kids have little time for fun.
If you’re self-aware of yourself and your parenting, we believe that a balance between strict parenting and a healthy parent-child relationship is possible.
Are you a Tiger parent or are you raised by one? Tell us your story in the comments below!