Tiger Tamer! Study Challenges Theory that Asian Parenting Makes Kids Succeed

Prof. Desiree Qin takes on 'Tiger Mom' author Amy Chua over harsh discipline in study at Stuyvesant HS that finds Chinese-American students more anxious and depressed.

“Tiger Mother” author Amy Chua caused an uproar by suggesting high-pressure Asian parenting makes kids succeed.

Now, there’s evidence she might be wrong — from a psychologist who studied Chinese-American students at elite Stuyvesant High School.

Two studies by Prof. Desiree Qin paint the high achievers as frustrated with parents’ demands and more anxious and depressed than other students.

“Amy said Western children are not happier than Chinese ones,” Qin told the Daily News.

“But at the same time, research from our study does show that when parents place a lot of pressure on their kids, the children are less happy.”

Her two upcoming medical journal articles are based on hundreds of interviews with students in 2007 and 2008.

Qin would not name the school to protect students’ anonymity, but the description matches Stuyvesant, and a school source confirmed the research was done there.

Qin said that since the teens had gotten into one of the most selective schools in the country, she expected less conflict with parents over education.

Instead, the Chinese-American students reported more friction at home.

“She’s like, ‘Oh, you have to do good on your SATs . . . you have to work on your essays’ . . . They just repeatedly talk about work,” one Stuyvesant kid said of her mother.

Students said their moms and dads thought academic failure shamed the family and compared them with relatives and pals who were doing better.

“If I get one bad grade, they think, ‘Oh no, you’re going to fail school, you’re going to become one of those bad girls who do drugs and things like that,” one girl groused.

That kind of pushiness is celebrated in “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” the memoir written by Chua, a Yale law professor and mother of two.

She describes how her daughters had to get A’s, couldn’t have playdates and were forced to play the violin.

Questionnaires filled out by Stuy students revealed Chinese-Americans sensed more conflict at home than those of European descent.

“Chinese kids in the same school reported higher levels of depression and low self-esteem,” Qin said.

Although her research predates Chua’s book-stirred debate, Qin said the results offer a counterpoint to the Tiger Mom.

“All parents want our children to be successful, but we want them to be successful and happy.”

Chua declined to comment through a publicist.

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Source: New York Daily News - http://goo.gl/KhJFX

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This entry was posted in Child Behavior & Discipline, Child Brain Development, Early Learning, Parenting & Education, School & Teaching.

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