|We've all heard the phrase "tiger mom" used to describe a strict, demanding, authoritative parent, and now new research gives insight into the motivation behind this parenting style.
Suggesting that “Chinese mothers are more psychologically controlling than European-American mothers in part because their feelings of self-worth are tied to their children's performance,” Live Science reported on the new study from the University of Illinois.
Researchers sent surveys to Chinese, European-American and African-American mothers and children, asking them to rate how much they agreed with statements like, "If my daughter does something I do not like, I sometimes act less friendly to her so that she knows I am disappointed," or "My parents tell me that I should feel guilty when I do not meet their expectations." The surveys also examined the relationship between the children’s success and the mother’s sense of self-worth, Live Science reported.
The results? Chinese mothers were found to be more psychologically controlling and to experience greater "child-based worth," and the data showed a correlation between the former and the latter.
The co-author of the study, Eva Pomerantz, told LiveScience that manipulating your child’s emotions and making them feel guilty or ashamed can actually be counter-productive and harmful to their psychological development.
"Those kids have emotional problems like depression and anxiety and are overall less happy," Pomerantz said.
The term "tiger Mom" was added to the lexicon of parenting styles -- alongside "helicopter moms" and "attachment parents" — after the 2011 publication of Amy Chua’s book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother." Chua documented her own Chinese-style approach to raising her two daughters and came under fire for her harsh parenting methods, such as forbidding sleepovers and play dates, expecting straight-A grades and making her children practice musical instruments for hours.
"While I definitely have regrets, if I had to raise my girls all over again, I guess I would basically do the same thing, with some adjustments," Chua writes on her website. "I’m not holding myself out as a model, but I do believe that we in America can ask more of children than we typically do, and they will not only respond to the challenge, but thrive. I think we should assume strength in our children, not weakness."
According to the study, which will be published in the journal Child Development, Chua’s "tiger mothering" is indeed tied to cultural beliefs about success and family.
Pomerantz told LiveScience that her study is paving the way in examining these cultural differences, which can also have negative impacts on the parents, not just the children.
"For parents it could be really bad to have their self-worth so wrapped up with their children," she said.