My Take
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 May, 2014, 4:43am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 May, 2014, 5:56am

Tiger mums and pussy parents can both be right, according to United States study

Tiger mum vs pussy parent. You can't get a more heated debate in education and parenting these days. Everyone seems to have an opinion on it.

But it turns out both sides can be right, at least according to new research by two Stanford University psychologists.

While the two types of parenting really do represent very distinct cultural approaches to raising children, it doesn't have to be East against West, my gentle mother is superior to your pushy mum.

"While European-American parents give their children wings to fly on their own, Asian-American parents provide a constant wind beneath their children's wings," said the study, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

The research by Alyssa Fu, a doctoral student in psychology, and Hazel Markus, a professor of psychology, is based on studying 342 students from a northern California high school. They find the issue isn't so much the undesirable trait of dependency vs independence as interdependence vs independence in the kinds of motivation induced in the child by the two types of parenting.

As a prime example of an interdependent relationship, real tiger mums don't just bark orders, they completely immerse themselves in their children's studies. "Tiger Moms throw themselves into everything that their children are doing," Fu said in a presentation of her research at a psychologists' convention in San Francisco last week. "When Asian-American kids see themselves as really connected with their mothers, they can benefit from their mother's pressure."

This is different from the more Westernised approach which stresses independence. The researchers find that far from making their children insecure and fearful of failure, the Asian-American children in the study actually find reliable parental support, secure in the knowledge that even at the toughest time, their mothers will always be there for them. But with European-American kids, "It can cut you to the heart. Then, it's up to you to pick yourself up by the bootstraps and move on."

It may be commonplace wisdom but wisdom nevertheless: we should learn from - rather than criticise - each other.

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