We all want our kids to succeed. Every family’s version of success differs; do you want your child to be happy and emotionally well-adjusted? Maybe you want them to be physically fit and healthy. Or perhaps you are more focused on academic achievement, like with tiger parenting? The outcome you want for your child often influences the way you parent. If you align with achievement and future success, you might be a tiger mom.
What Is a Tiger Mom?
A “tiger parent,” sometimes referred to as a “tiger mom,” is a parent who is very strict with the purpose of raising a high-achieving child. The tiger mom definition is not just someone who wants their child to do well. It is the idea of achieving and being dedicated to their study or high-status extracurriculars like music or certain sports which take priority over things like socializing or leisure activities.1
Tiger parenting means having incredibly high expectations of children. Tiger parents are authoritative to the point of not allowing their children many freedoms or much choice in spending their time. The parenting style of a tiger mom can potentially mean they use emotional threats and don’t trust their child or give them much privacy or autonomy. There may be little room for negotiation, often with the vibe of “It’s my way or the highway” as they force activities and decisions to achieve “success.”1
History of Tiger Parenting
The pressure to achieve academically comes from China’s Confucian cultural value system. Confucian theories come from teachings in the fifth century by the philosopher Confucius that highlight and focus on the value of things like loyalty, honesty, a strong work ethic, and being committed to academic achievement and education.2
The term “tiger mother” is a newer concept introduced to wider audiences by law school professor and author Amy Chua in her book, “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.” In her book, she shares reflections on her strict upbringing and describes a stereotypical concept of parenting similar to households in East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Her book shares her experiences as she tiger-parented her daughter and how she managed the challenge (and transformed) as her daughter rebelled against her tiger-parenting methods.3
Pros and Cons of Tiger Parenting
Here are several pros and cons to the tiger parenting style.
Pros of Being a Tiger Mom
- One key element of tiger parenting is the development of a strong work ethic by setting high. expectations in children. The benefits of having a strong work ethic can reach well into adulthood.4
- Children become accustomed to hard work.
- Tiger parenting is similar to authoritarian parenting, which has strict rules and high expectations. However, unlike authoritarian parents, the tiger parent will go to great lengths to remove obstacles from their child’s path.
- Often, tiger parenting is overly strict, but for many parents, it’s also combined with love, warmth, and support.5
Cons of Being a Tiger Mom
One fundamental belief that drives tiger moms is that by having high expectations, they will help their children achieve high results or success. However, having high expectations not coupled with warmth and affection can impact children in the following ways:6,7
- Have lower self-esteem and potentially be at increased risk of experiencing depression and anxiety
- Issues with self-discipline as they haven’t had to practice limits by themselves
- Having trouble making decisions by themselves
- Having lower grades despite the high level of academic pressure
- Fear of making mistakes and disappointing their parents
- Having trouble developing relationships with others
Balanced Tiger Parenting
A tiger mom’s high expectations may be unrealistic (too high or unachievable for their child’s age or developmental capacity). Or their control is not balanced with love, warmth, and compassion.
You might already be a tiger mom looking to break away from a parenting style you follow, or you might be keen to encourage academic and general life success but find the core “strictness” of tiger parent beliefs to be too much for you. So, here are some ways to create balance and better overall well-being for your child:
1. Remember To Give Them Love
You can have high expectations, but if you offer emotional support and help your child develop resilience and emotional regulation strategies, you can minimize the adverse effects of tiger parenting.8
2. Get To Know Your Child
Spend a few precious minutes daily learning about what makes your child tick. What do they like, and dislike, what are they good at, and what challenges them? This way, you can direct your focus and efforts on things they are good at and support them through the things that challenge them.
3. Respect Isn’t a One-Way Street
Show your child respect by listening to them, considering their needs and wants, and giving them space to share their insights.
4. Give Them Some Choices
Although the typical tiger parent takes control to try and drive success, it can accidentally reduce your child’s self-esteem. That can make it harder for them to achieve as their motivation dwindles. So, when you give a child a choice and respect their choices, you tell them, “I trust in you and believe in you,” which boosts their self-esteem.9
There are no manuals for parenting, and most parents act in the way they know how. They practice what they saw when they were children or employ parenting strategies they have seen. It’s essential to know that you can still maintain your tiger mom beliefs but balance this with strategies to improve your child’s emotional outcomes alongside academic achievements.
It’s important to remember that every child responds differently to parenting strategies, and each family has unique histories and needs that influence how they raise children. Tiger parenting is only one approach to raising children. Ultimately the choice is yours as a parent (and yours alone) when it comes to knowing what’s best when raising your child.