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Tiger Moms Lose their Stripes


Attention tiger moms: It’s time to roar less and cheer more. The low-affection, high-discipline so-called “tiger” parenting style that gained so much attention in 2011 may actually hurt kids, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that teens in tiger families had lower academic achievement, higher instances of depression, and felt more alienated from their parents than kids who were raised in more supportive environments. 

The 8-year-long study, led by Su Yeong Kim, Ph.D., assistant professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, tracked four Asian American parenting styles, including the tiger method heralded in the 2011 book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. The headline-grabbing book reinforced the stereotype that Asian Americans’ demanding parenting produces star achievers. 

Plus: Parenting Styles from Around the World

The new study found just the opposite. The teens with the best developmental outcomes were raised with a supportive parenting style, Kim tells “Supportive parents are warm and open to negotiation and communication,” Kim says. “They monitor the child’s behavior and use reasoning to discipline.”

And it pays off — those kids had the best academic performance, the highest educational attainment, the lowest psychological stress and the closest parent-child relationships, according to the study.

Plus: 8 Discipline Mistakes Parents Make

Other parenting styles had mixed results. Teens with tiger parents and more laissez-faire parents had about the same results. Kids raised in a harsh parenting style — high coercion with less responsiveness — fared the worst. How would you describe your parenting style? Let us know.