Parenting and Basic Education
Sociologist Jennifer Lee wrote in the Society Pages, "Tiger Kids and the Success Frame". In this article, she presented an analysis of the Immigrant and Intergenerational Mobility in Metropolitan Los Angeles survey data. Her findings are summarized in the following two figures:
|Figure downloaded from Tiger Kids and the Success Frame|
The above figure shows the educational background of parents of families in Los Angeles. In this specific groupings, the Chinese have the highest fraction with a bachelor's degree (both father and mother). The next figure shows the educational attainment of the next generation:
|Figure downloaded from Tiger Kids and the Success Frame|
There is currently an impression that Chinese American children do well in school because of "Tiger Moms". This was largely a misinterpretation or a misunderstanding of a book by Amy Chua, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother". Amy Chua describes her book on her blog in the following terms,
"...Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is the story of my family’s journey in two cultures. I wrote this book in a moment of crisis, when my younger daughter seemed to turn against everything I stood for and it felt like I was losing her and everything was falling apart. After one terrible fight, I sat down at my computer, and even though I usually have writer’s block, this time the words just poured out. I showed every page to my daughters and my husband. It was like family therapy. In retrospect, I think writing the book – going back eighteen years when my elder daughter was born and I was a very different person – was an attempt to put the pieces back together and work things out for myself . . . and the story is unfinished!"For the purpose of finding what parenting style works best for a child's education, there is a study recently published that has specifically looked at Chinese families to examine how parenting affects a child's success in school. The following paper: Does “tiger parenting” exist? Parenting profiles of Chinese Americans and adolescent developmental outcomes. Kim, Su Yeong; Wang, Yijie; Orozco-Lapray, Diana; Shen, Yishan; Murtuza, Mohammed, Asian American Journal of Psychology, Vol 4(1), Mar 2013, 7-18. doi: 10.1037/a0030612, performed a longitudinal study of more than 400 Chinese American families living in Northern California.
“Tiger parenting,” as described by Chua (2011, Battle hymn of the tiger mother. New York, NY: Penguin Press), has put parenting in Asian American families in the spotlight. The current study identified parenting profiles in Chinese American families and explored their effects on adolescent adjustment. In a three-wave longitudinal design spanning 8 years, from early adolescence to emerging adulthood, adolescents (54% female), fathers, and mothers from 444 Chinese American families reported on eight parenting dimensions (e.g., warmth and shaming) and six developmental outcomes (e.g., GPA and academic pressure). Latent profile analyses on the eight parenting dimensions demonstrated four parenting profiles: supportive, tiger, easygoing, and harsh parenting. Over time, the percentage of parents classified as tiger parents decreased among mothers but increased among fathers. Path analyses showed that the supportive parenting profile, which was the most common, was associated with the best developmental outcomes, followed by easygoing parenting, tiger parenting, and harsh parenting. Compared with the supportive parenting profile, a tiger parenting profile was associated with lower GPA and educational attainment, as well as less of a sense of family obligation; it was also associated with more academic pressure, more depressive symptoms, and a greater sense of alienation. The current study suggests that, contrary to the common perception, tiger parenting is not the most typical parenting profile in Chinese American families, nor does it lead to optimal adjustment among Chinese American adolescents.
Unfortunately, access to the above paper is not free. Paul Tullis, however, wrote an article on Slate, "Poor Little Tiger Cub" that highlighted the above paper by Kim et al. Tullis provided the following to explain the parenting styles explored in the study:
|Above figure downloaded from "Poor Little Tiger Cub"|
Adolescents and parents rated the parents on several qualities, for example, “act loving, affectionate, and caring,” “listen carefully,” and “act supportive and understanding.” Warmth, reasoning, monitoring, and democratic parenting were considered positive attributes, while hostility, psychological control, shaming, and punitive measures were considered negative. These characterizations would be combined through a statistical method known as latent profile analysis to determine Kim’s four parenting profiles: Those scoring highest on the positive dimensions were labeled “supportive;” those scoring low on both dimensions were deemed “easygoing;” “harsh” parents were high on negative attributes and low on positive ones, and “tiger” parents scored high on both positive and negative dimensions.In addition to the finding that only children from "supportive" parents have positive outcomes in academic, social and emotional terms, the study by Kim, et al, also found out that most parents in Chinese American families are "supportive". Only a few are "tiger".
“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. Tiger parenting doesn't produce superior outcomes in kids.”