First study on Tiger Moms: Kids more depressed with worse grades and alienated from parents

A professor at the University of Texas has conducted the first major study of Tiger Moms and how their cubs develop. She found that the Tiger Cubs were more depressed with worse grades and felt alienated from their parents.

Su Yeong Kim, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas, had been following more than 300 Asian-American families for a decade when Amy Chua’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother came out in 2011. Here is how her study worked:

From Slate:

“For Kim’s study, parents and children answered questions during the children’s adolescence about their parenting styles. The vast majority of parents were foreign-born in Hong Kong or southern China, with relatively low educational attainment and a median income of between $30,001 and $45,000 in each of the study’s three phases, spaced out equally over eight years. Three-quarters of their kids were American-born. The study controlled for socioeconomic status and sibling order and other potentially confounding factors.”…

“Since the 1960s, academics have separated parenting styles into three categories, or “profiles”: permissive, authoritative, and authoritarian. Authoritative parenting—a combination of high responsiveness with the exercise of power that’s open to negotiation—has been found (in white families) to produce higher-achieving children with fewer symptoms of depression. Authoritarian parenting combines coercion with less responsiveness, and leads to higher depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem. Permissive parenting is characterized by high warmth and low control and demandingness. (Negligent parenting, added in the 1980s, is both cold and undemanding.)” …

“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. The responsiveness that’s considered an aspect of “authoritative” parenting, for example, was broadened to include both positive and negative attributes: warmth and hostility. Control, she would write, has “multiple facets … positive control is measured by parental monitoring and democratic parenting; negative control is measured by psychological control and punitive parenting.” Kim also added inductive reasoning, which is a measure of effective communication, and shaming, which had been established in the literature as a significant aspect in the rearing of Chinese-origin kids.”

(There is a chart on the website that shows in quadrants how the types of parenting affect the kids.. Also there is lots more info on the study. I could only pull a few graphs.)

“And although Chua presented her own children as Exhibit A of why her parenting style works, Kim said, “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.”

So are you surprised the Tiger Parenting leads to “lower academic achievement and attainment—and greater psychological maladjustment—and family alienation, than the kids of parents characterized as ‘supportive’ or ‘easygoing.’ ”

What do you make of that chart? (I really like the quadrants, and it really helps clarify how the factors interact.)

Does this study affect how you think about your style of parenting? (It makes me think I need to be a little firmer with my kids. )

44 comments Add your comment

catlady

May 9th, 2013
5:47 am

Does the parenting lead to lower scores, or are those parents whose children are not superstar material choosing the Tiger route in an effort to remediate their,children’s achievement.; correlation is NOT causality!

catlady

May 9th, 2013
5:50 am

Another example: Serving coffee on a plane does NOT cause air turbulence!

(the other) Rodney

May 9th, 2013
6:09 am

I don’t know from Tiger Moms, Helicopter Parents, or what – but I can relate to parents who exact near total control over their children.

When I left for college (20+ years ago) I still had a 9pm curfew. My parents were of the “doesn’t matter how old you are, if we pay and you are under our roof you will do what we say” variety. Because of this lack of freedom, of any kind really, when I got to college I went completely buck wild. I had a freedom I had never experienced before – imagine, being able to stay out past 9pm. :)

As a result of me exerting my newfound freedom I d*mn near flunked out my first semester.

All of this is to say that whether it’s Tiger Moms, Helicopters, or just plain strict parenting – it isn’t healthy for children past a certain age and ALL of these can lead to issues later.

Jeff

May 9th, 2013
6:47 am

Thank you catlady. Well said.

But lets’ see how those children turn out to be whn they hits their 20’s-40’s.

My parents were fairly strict, but I didn’t appreciate it and see the value until my 30’s.

Jeff

May 9th, 2013
6:47 am

Sorry, for the typos.

LeeH1

May 9th, 2013
7:08 am

Tiger moms who exercise total control over their children are child abusers.

Kg

May 9th, 2013
7:16 am

I think the study is flawed. What tiger mom only has a family income of under $45k ? I don’t think this study is about tiger moms but instead about Asian parents that want their child to attain a high level of education however because the parents themselves do not have that background and resources ( education, money for music lessons and test prep) they are unsuccessful.

Mother of 2

May 9th, 2013
7:19 am

I’m not surprised by the study. I’m not a tiger mom, but I do have high expectations. Fortunately, my kids and I are on the same page. This wasn’t always true, but we found the path to academic success together, which works well for my family.

I know two tiger moms. Their kids had rougher adolescent periods than mine did. These women expected their kids to be the best, while I expected my kids to do their best. My kids got a handful of B’s and we were all just fine. Their kids were punished when they were close to a B.

I have noticed that the Asian kids with tiger moms have a tendency to stick together at school (both high school and college). I think this might be a way for them to give support to each other.

Sometimes I’m in awe of these wiz kids who are perfect students. But at the end of the day, I think it’s better to have balance in one’s life.

Me

May 9th, 2013
7:59 am

I’m with @catlady on this one…

HB

May 9th, 2013
9:29 am

This sounds reasonable to me. The kind of harsh parenting described that relies on shaming and constantly demands perfection, falls under what I would consider emotional abuse. Most people are going to be beaten down by such treatment at some point and simply give up. If they are constantly berated no matter how hard you try and only receive positive reinforcement for perfection, a few kids may be driven enough to achieve that perfection most of the time, but most will simply give up and stop trying at all. If kids have no freedom to make their own choices or venture out in small ways on their own, they probably don’t have as much interest in their own success.

Jeff’s “fairly strict” parents and Mother of 2’s high expectations sound like they probably fall in that middle category, authoritative, which seems to be most successful.

catlady

May 9th, 2013
10:31 am

As to your last comment, Theresa, I think if you can say you might need to be firmer with your kids, you need to be A LOT firmer with your kids.

hardmanb

May 9th, 2013
10:49 am

This study seems designed to define “Tiger Moms” as overly harsh and even abusive. Frankly it seems to be a liberal hit-piece against parental and individual responsibility. Most Tiger Moms are not as portrayed. Strict-yes. High Expectations-yes. Achievement oriented-yes. But still loving, concerned parents who want the best and most happiness in life for their children, by using a combination of family strength, common sense and love.

mom2alex&max

May 9th, 2013
12:04 pm

I don’t know about this. I expect a lot out of my kids because I know they are capable of a lot. They also have tendencies to be lazy, so if I didn’t push them some, they’d be content to coast with Bs and Cs which cost them ZERO effort. If I didn’t encourage them to pursue different activities, they would be content to read and play video games all day. Some children need more encouragement than others.

As a for instance; my oldest never expressed even the most remote interest in musical instruments. He hated his music special in elementary school. Yet when he got to middle school and everyone plays something (or sings) he took up the sax and now he LOVES it. I still have to strongly remind him to practice, but he does and he gets better every day. If he hadn’t been almost forced to do this, he would have never discovered his talent.

Jan Kaiser

May 9th, 2013
12:33 pm

Logistics demands that in order to be a “tiger mom”/”helicopter parent”, you have to be better off economically than what the professor studied. She should have expanded her income ranges to be more reflective of the average Asian American family…

FCM

May 9th, 2013
12:40 pm

I grew up with strict parents. My parents are quick to tell me I am a permissive parent.

Like Jeff, I did not fully appreicate my parents (the sacrifices, the rules, etc) until I was in my 30s and had kids of my own. I am less strict than my parents were, by choice. Both my brother and I can vividly recall bringing home a 92 and being asked where the other 8 points were. (My mom says now that Dad was joking–he didn’t seem to be at the time). The guilt and anagst were harsh. There are side effects (the need to be perfect, the need to please) that go with that kind of upbringing.

Like (the Other)Rodney we did not know what to do with freedom when I got it. My brother and both ended up playing around and getting the college funds (rightfully) pulled. I worked hard and went back to school for my degree, paying for it out of MY pocket. My brother chose another, albeit successful, harder route.

However, among my peers, I am seen as authoritarian. I make pleanty of parenting mistakes but I see no reason to be overly strict. I am not their friend (something else my parents accuse) but I do enjoy time with my kids. I do monitor grades, tell them great job when they do well (I told one yesterday great job you got a 94! SHe said NO WAY I should have had 100! She got upset, not me.) If they are less than stellar I say something like you got 72 on this, did you put in all the study time you could? What could you differntly? What can you do to get your marks back in the correct direction.

The 94 child did accuse me of being a Tiger Mom (we aren’t Asian) the other day. Because I told her if she wanted to be first chair (which she said she did) she needed to put more time into practicing.

mom2alex&max

May 9th, 2013
1:02 pm

Jan: that’s not necessarily true. Culturally, there are A LOT of parents who are working parents and poor parents who place a HUGE importance on education and doing very well in school. Asian parents come to mind, but I also know a lot of Hispanic families who are not upper class and expect a lot of their children in school, because they want their children to do better in life than they did.

HB

May 9th, 2013
1:05 pm

I think FCM’s last sentence is a pretty good illustration of the distinction the study draws between authoritarian/Tiger and authoritative parenting. You didn’t berate or shame her for not being first chair. You made it clear what it would take though to reach her (not your) goal and didn’t coddle her.

And mom2alex&max, it sounds to me like you probably fall into that successful middle category as well. You set rules and high expectations for your kids, but is there sometimes room to negotiate? Do you heavily control everything they do? You don’t let your kids slack off and get Bs and Cs, but if they put the work in and still get a B or two, are you quick to punish them? If not, you sound authoritative, not authoritarian to me.

FCM

May 9th, 2013
2:36 pm

TY HB….she is actually 2nd Chair. She was 1st Chair most of last year and this fall. The current 1st chair is of Asian family. I do not know if he is expected to be first chair or not.

The violin 1st chair last year was a white girl who has been playing since she was 4. I noticed at the Fall Concert she had been unseated. Also by an Asian student. I did ask my daughter, she said “He just began playing last year!” So I think perhaps it is expected.

One young man (HS level a few years ago) quit the varsity football team to play violin. He too was Asian and 1st chair. I asked the Conductor (a friend)about it. He said that the young man begged his parents to let him quit football. They wanted him more well rounded and less stero-typed. However, if you could see the emotion on the kids face you know he played violin because he WANTED too, he LOVED it.

catlady

May 9th, 2013
5:13 pm

When I was growing up, my mom decided my dad (BS, EE, from Duke in 3 years) should tutor me in algebra 1″in 8th grade because I had a 92 average! Not sure that made her a Tiger mom, but she was disappointed I graduated 2nd in a class of 220.

charles

May 10th, 2013
12:24 am

In American we stop spanking children and they became depressed. Now China has stop inserting bamboo shoot under the childrens finger nails and they too become depressed, go figure.

Mayhem

May 10th, 2013
7:01 am

Another thrilling topic. 20 comments in over 24 hours.

Topic suggestions: What are you doing for Mother’s Day? Which I’m very surprised we aren’t discussing THAT.

What would you do if you heard women screaming and banging on the walls, from the house next to you?

Are you so busy you don’t have time to cook? Do you live in restaurants? If you cook, is it fresh, or frozen.

Do you support local farmers by shopping at Farmer’s Markets?

Recipe swap.

What is your crowning achievement? How many have reached life goals?

How do you care for an aging parent?

Maybe have everyone send in ONE topic, then we will discuss that.

There, I’ve suggested 8 topics.

HB

May 10th, 2013
7:28 am

Wow, 6 of 8 of those have been done to death, and most of those are very broad. Plus, Theresa seems to try to tie most topics to something in the news (as I would expect a newspaper site to do). This isn’t a general mommy board or discussion group. It’s a news blog focused on mom/family topics. If you’d rather chat with people about recipes, farmers markets, and how often you cook (again! done to death), I’m sure there are lots of forums where you can do so and stop griping here every day.

FCM

May 10th, 2013
8:02 am

I am seeing more and more teachers accused of sexual misconduct in school. How about we discuss how to eduacte our children not to fall prey to the pressures of a teacher. How to get more of the working parents invoved in school. Cobb County has a proposed Stawman Online program built into the budget, what will Online courses mean to the family…

Those aren’t done to death and no I don’t want to go to the School Blog, b/c I want to disucss these from a parenting angle

bgb

May 10th, 2013
8:06 am

” It’s a news blog focused on mom/family topics.”
- The 3 part series on Barbie skin tones was certainly compelling news

HB

May 10th, 2013
8:12 am

You may not find Barbie controversies compelling (I know I don’t), but yes, it was a topic that was making news and T tied the discussion to news articles.

Mayhem

May 10th, 2013
8:17 am

@FCM we were at my nieces softball game the other night. One of the moms was talking about this one particular girl who has accused 3 separate male teachers,, from 3 separate schools, of sexual misconduct. Hmmmm, makes us all wonder if this was some sort of attention getting scheme, and we wondered if she didn’t get enough attention at home.

[...] raged over the Tiger Mom method of parenting, but as it continued, a study was underway to measure the effects of the school of [...]

bgb

May 10th, 2013
8:47 am

“You may not find Barbie controversies compelling (I know I don’t),…”

My suggestion to the AJC is to find someone who will take the time to find more compelling topics, write sentences without spelling errors, and write sentences above 1st grade level drivel.

HB

May 10th, 2013
8:57 am

I truly hate to see spelling errors on news sites, and there are more and more of them on all sites, but not all the blame should fall on the writers. Catching all of your own errors is nearly impossible, and from what I hear, newspapers have pretty much done away with copy editors, at least for online content. I think most web content goes straight from the writers to publication. Another set of eyes should proof everything in between, but that doesn’t happen anymore. It’s a cost-cutting tragedy.

xxx

May 10th, 2013
8:58 am

Further proof women like this are a drag on society.

bgb

May 10th, 2013
9:05 am

There is a function called spell-check. It is free – awesome cost cutting.
Browse through TWG’s blogs and you would have to be fooling yourself if you think the consistent juvenile level of sentence writing and spelling errors is due to anything other than laziness/lack of professionalism.

HB

May 10th, 2013
9:16 am

Most of the spelling errors I’ve seen and that you’ve pointed out would not be caught by spell-check (for example using you’re instead of your). That’s why real live human proofers are important.

Mayhem

May 10th, 2013
9:21 am

Well, maybe she needs to slow down and CATCH HER OWN MISTAKES. She IS A JOURNALIST after all.

So who do you blame for mis-spelled words? I blame the writer. The person RESPONSIBLE for the “articles”.

And, pretty much, every program now has automatic spell check. Even texts auto correct.

bgb

May 10th, 2013
9:22 am

Or real live professional writers.
How is that the other blog owners don’t have the same spelling issues?

How about the lame structure of the few sentences she writes?

Then this, then that, lots of thens, then this and that

Poor spelling, poor grammar, poor topics

FCM

May 10th, 2013
9:26 am

@ Mayhem, exactly! Not that it is the child’s fault, but what is really going on. Additionally, I remember girls in HS who would later claim rape, rather than admit they were sexually active by choice. I wonder if this not some of that as well.

Certainly a Teacher should know better in any case and just “not go there”

FCM

May 10th, 2013
9:32 am

I don’t care about the sentence structure or spelling.

I do however recall, TWG admitted to writing at least one blog while watching tv. Not that I don’t multi-task when I come post here either. I certainly do.

TWG I luv ya, but I have to say that it did make me wonder if the blog was something you even enjoy doing anymore.

When it feels more like just another item on a to do list, is it really worth it?

HB

May 10th, 2013
9:34 am

I place joint blame on the writers (never said they’re blameless, just that it’s not entirely their fault) and the newspapers. The newspaper is ultimately responsible for its content and the editing process.

FCM

May 10th, 2013
9:37 am

That last question is not about the blog per se…it is about most anything we do. Although when it comes to laundry and clean dishes….yes it is worth it!

bgb

May 10th, 2013
9:39 am

I don’t give a flip about spelling/grammar from the general public responses, but
- from the Owner of the blog?
- a degreed professional?
- an educator who teaches college students how to write news articles??
- a blog on the front webpage of the AJC?
- someone who is paid primarily to – write quality sentences and select interesting topics?

Seriously,its no wonder that the public has a lowered opinion of journalists and educators.

I find the blog to be demeaning to women. Oh, what the heck – we’ll give her a pass – after all she is a “busy mom”.

bgb

May 10th, 2013
9:42 am

“The newspaper is ultimately responsible for its content and the editing process.”
- an a responsible action a newspaper/business should take is to remove/put in place professionals with appropriate accoutability

The buck stops at the blog owner. It is her sign to the world of her professionalism.

HB

May 10th, 2013
9:55 am

“an a responsible action a newspaper/business should take is to remove/put in place professionals with appropriate accoutability”

And/or put in place procedures that help better maintain quality. The blog owner in this case actually is the AJC, and I suspect they are far more interested in hits and ad clicks than quality content anyway. And your visits and comments probably boosts those numbers. If you’re serious about wanting changes made, sending an email of your complaints signed with your real name (if you’re a paid subscriber let them know that too) to the editor or publisher would probably be more effective.

mcasey

May 10th, 2013
10:48 am

As a parent and former kid my observation is that all parents (strict, permissive, tiger) greatly overestimate our importance,especially after certain age (10 or so). My dad was neither overly permissive or strict and honestly I didn’t really care that much how he felt about my grades. I loved my dad and he me, but I don’t remember being too concerned what he thought about my grades or friends. I did what I was going to do, generally, and when I messed up I took the rap. No need to bring dad into the issue. He had plenty to worry about in his own life. We always had a good relationship through school,college (which I mostly funded) and my adult life. We were sitting together and laughing about old times when he died.
Perhaps we parents can ease upon our stress a bit. Many of our kids will develop as they will regardless of what we do. Parents can help and set good examples.But let’s maybe stop pretending our kids are some Pygmalians for us to shape as we see fit. They don’t really care that much…

Denise

May 10th, 2013
11:21 am

@mcasey – I feel like you. I did care about disappointing my parents but I didn’t let them dictate how I did what I was going to do things. Nor did they try. I studied when I needed to. Asked for help when I needed it. Told them to back off if they got so involved that they were distracting me from doing what I needed to do. They supported me in all my activities – came to my games (even though I SUCKED at softball LOL), track meets, and dance recitals – rarely missed them, only did for work. They did their parts and I did my part. The whole “did you do your homework?” went out the window really early – like around the end of elementary – because I proved myself mature enough to handle it. They may have known when I had a test because I was studying rather than just doing homework but it wasn’t a bunch of “are you studying for your science test?” Again, it may have just been because of who/how I am but it just didn’t happen. And it would have aggravated the daylights out of me if they did it. That is why I don’t understand all this Tiger Mom and Helicopter Mom and all the other labels put on parents. When it comes to school, do what your children NEED you to do, not what YOU want to do or THINK you need to do for them. Be attentive. Know your kid, for sure. Be supportive, loving, and kind, for sure. Let them know that you have their backs. Be prepared to HELP when they need you, for sure. But don’t insert yourself when they don’t need you just to make yourself feel good and useful. It’s not abusive, permissive, or a sign that you don’t care about your kid to let them handle things their way as long as it’s not harmful to themselves or others, or at least I don’t think so. Let them learn, do, and become what they are meant to.

Anand

May 14th, 2013
5:33 am

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