The Cost of Tiger Parents

There are many different parenting methods used by parents all over the world. A popularized one within the Asian American community is tiger parenting. Tiger parenting refers to a “strict authoritative method of parenting that is meant to raise high- achieving children.” Tiger parenting was a term first introduced by Amy Chua, a Yale Law professor in her memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. In her memoir, Chua argues that Tiger parenting is how she raises her children and that they are forbidden from doing certain things like having sleepovers, watching TV, or getting grades under an A. She says that this is why her children perform well in school and are able to achieve academic success. After this book was published, she received lots of mixed opinions. Many people defended her saying that it doesn’t matter what methods she uses since her children show high performance. However, what are the consequences of this parenting method? Do the achievements really make up for the damage done towards the mental health and happiness of their children?

 Tiger parents often pressure and push their children to get high grades and have high achievements. The parents have an image that they want their children to fit.  In the poem, “A Work of Artifice,” the author, Marge Piercy, describes how a bonsai tree is prevented from reaching its full potential and instead is used to fit into the aesthetics of society. Like a gardener to a bonsai tree, tiger parents often strip their children from reaching their full potential. The parents force their children into becoming what they want their children to become. For example, from experience, there are many people in my life who want to pursue art as their major. However, their parents don’t allow them to because typically artists don’t make a lot of money. Instead of letting their kids do what they are passionate about, they are instead being forced into a major that they have no interest in doing. It would be better to have children do what they want to do and learn about, instead of being forced to do something they have no passion for. They will perform better in school, and enjoy learning if they are learning about something they care about. 

In the same poem, the author also says, “With living creatures one must begin very early to dwarf their growth: the bound feet, the crippled brain, the hair in curlers, the hands you love to touch.” Tiger parents often monitor and pressure their children to act a certain way. These lines from the poem mention the phrase “bound feet.” The phrase refers to a method used in China where young girls would have their feet binded together because the ideal feet for Chinese women were “lotus feet” that were curved and 3-4 inches in length. Like the bound feet, children are expected to fit into a mold of having high grades, being talented in music, doing sports, and having achievements in extracurricular activities. Not all people were born with the same feet size and shape, like how all people don’t have the same interests. Parents shouldn’t force their children to do all these extracurricular activities that they don’t want to do just so that they can have high achievements. This can be harmful to their mental health, as they aren’t allowed to choose the things that they want to do. They will feel controlled and suffocated, as they have no say in what they are passionate about.

Tiger parenting takes away the fun of being a child. Instead of being like other young kids and going to sleepovers, or watching TV with their friends, children of tiger parents are at home studying. They never get to experience what it is like to be young and have a childhood. In the essay “Children in the Woods” by Barry Lopez, he says, “What takes a lifetime to learn, They comprehend, is the existence and substance of myriad relationship is: its these relationships, not the things themselves, that ultimately hold the human imagination.” Hanging out with friends and building strong bonds are also important. If children are locked up inside their rooms and studying all the time, it will be hard to make new friends and talk to people. After graduating high school and college, grades don’t matter as much as they used to. The thing that gets you through life is the connections formed and being able to socialize and ask questions. 

There are many different and more effective parenting methods other than tiger parenting. Being supportive and caring as a parent will greatly benefit their children. Instead of being harsh and strict, showing encouragement will help bring out the best in children. An example of a kind parent is the mom in the short disney film, Bao. The mother is completely different from a tiger mom. The mother in the film wants the best for her child and cares and nurtures him. When he gets hurt, she immediately comes to his side and makes sure he is ok. She is protective, but knows her limits and still gives her child freedom to do what he wants. Letting kids choose their own paths and have freedom to explore new things is better for the children. They are able to discover their strengths and weaknesses, and they are able to grow and mature from their experiences. Also, children who grow up with less supportive parents are more likely to have anxiety, depression, low self esteem, and other mental disorders. When a child is growing up, they need encouragement and people to tell them that they are doing a good job and to keep going. Having someone by their side will help them feel needed and like they have a purpose instead of just doing what their parents want them to do. In the end, there are much better parenting methods than tiger parenting. 

Although tiger parenting is a common and popular method, it is outdated, and does not benefit the child. With the happiness and mental health of the child at stake, tiger parenting is not the best method for raising a child. Being supportive and letting kids follow their passion will let them live a healthy and happy life. 

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