When America got all excited about Amy Chua and her "Tiger Mom" parenting methods, I cringed. Could people actually think belittling their kids, severely restricting their social lives, and a rigorous educational plan could create itty bitty geniuses?
If you're one of the parents who bought it, be warned: it's not going to work. And now we have the science to prove it.
A study out of the human development and family sciences department at the University of Texas has revealed that children with parents labeled as "supportive" had the best developmental outcomes. Kids with so called "tiger" parents had "lower GPA and educational attainment, as well as less of a sense of family obligation; it was also associated with more academic pressure, more depressive symptoms, and a greater sense of alienation."
Well, well, well ... treating your kids like crap alienates them from you. Who'd have thunk it?
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If I sound flip, I apologize. I've spent a lot of time trying to disassociate myself from the tiger method in an effort to raise a happy kid.
The truth is, the study hit perilously close to home. I was raised in a household that would fall closer to tiger than supportive. My parents were not full-on Amy Chua types, but the focus on academic pursuits was heightened. I remember the trauma of coming home with a 78 on my report card ... in art. That I could little control my lack of artistic talent was no matter for a mother who was irate that I'd so badly damaged my high honor roll GPA with such a poor showing in that one class.
I still put a high value on education. But I put a higher value on raising a happy kid.
The differences between supportive and tiger parents are many, but I'd wager it all boils down to one thing: our definition of what it means to have a "successful kid."
I'd love to have a genius rocket scientist kid who wins the Nobel Award one day. But all that wouldn't mean a thing to me if she's miserable.
This is why my daughter is in second grade this year, a grade I skipped entirely. This is why we don't study her spelling list EVERY night. This is why we downplay the importance of grades and play up the importance of doing your best.
Most of all, this is why we don't belittle our daughter or limit her life to academic endeavors. She's more than just the number on top of a worksheet.
I don't care that my kid isn't as advanced as I was at her age (let me be clear, she's still a smarty pants who fell asleep last night with her favorite book of the moment still clutched in her hands ... this is NOT a knock on my kid). I care that she is genuinely happy to wake up in the morning, board a school bus and go off to learn the multiplication tables.
Am I a perfect parent? Of course not. But I don't expect to have a perfect kid either.
What do you think about tiger parenting? Do you stress education in your house?
Image via digitalART2/Flickr