Bestselling author of ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’, Amy Chua, advocates a radical, stoic approach to parenting: Kids must undergo non-stop, punishing labor in order to excel; happiness can take a back-seat. Ms Chua claims her philosophy is quintessentially “Chinese”. (Some critics have even labelled it “Eastern” )
Now, a Michigan State University scholar is challenging the so-called tiger mother philosophy. Curiously, the challenge comes from another Chinese mother!
Desiree Baolian Qin, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, believes that the ‘tiger mother approach’ can lead children to “experience maladjustment” later on in life. “I strongly believe that happiness matters tremendously for children to develop well”, Ms Qin says. “Play dates and other social activities help build social and emotional skills in children. “Children need the ability to work well with other people, to relate”.
After conducting a study – to be published in the forthcoming issue of Journal of Adolescence – Ms Qin discovered a revealing fact: Chinese immigrant students (who are brought up according to the traditional ‘tiger mother approach’) are more depressed and have lower self-esteem than white students. Ms Qin has based her research on a survey data of 500 high-achieving students at an urban East Coast high school.
Ms Qin says there ought to be a healthy balance of perspectives. “There is a healthy middle ground between the parenting extremes of the East and West. What is most beneficial to children, regardless of the culture, is clear and high expectations in a warm and loving family environment.”