Inside the Tiger’s Den


Photo by Aanya Kabra

It is almost 11 p.m. on a school night. Papers are scattered across the table, filled with crossed out numbers and indecipherable scratch work. The same line repeated over and over in the native language: “How are you going to be successful? How do you not understand this?” The bottled up tears finally roll down and adorn the already tear-stained math homework. 

And the closest you can get to an apology from your parents is a plate of cut-up fruit.

The term tiger parenting, coined by Amy Chua in her book, “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” refers to a strict parenting style that pushes children to academically excel at all costs. 

An anonymous student raised by tiger parents explains how this style of parenting has affected their mindset when it comes to academics. 

“It focuses a lot on the academic future, always having to have top grades, and even if your parents have stopped, it will have a lasting effect. If I get a B+ on an assignment, that still makes me personally disappointed in myself because of how I’ve been raised,” the anonymous student said.

Statistically, tiger parents have been able to raise high achieving children who meet today’s standard of success. However, this form of parenting tends to create strained parent-child relationships and often takes a serious toll on the child’s mental health. Students raised by tiger parents question the effectiveness of tiger parenting along with the harms and benefits of it. 

BVN sophomore Adithya Nair believes that being given a good amount of freedom is extremely important for childhood development. 

“You kind of get detached from your parents because once they’re so overly strict, you feel no love from them. My parents haven’t asked me how my day was in six years since I’ve come here. All they’ve asked me is how my grades are,” Nair said. 

This method is able to raise children who are disciplined and prioritize their education, but it also raises the question, “how much is too much?” It is important to consider the long term effects this form of parenting might have on children’s self esteem and their perceptions of self worth.

“I am very lucky to have been fairly successful with my studies so far and I hope to keep going further with it. But although there are pros, you also have to take the mental health impact with it. How is this kid going to view themselves in the future if they don’t live up to the standards that were idolized for them?” the anonymous student said.

In order to push academic success, tiger parents often take away some freedoms so that their children can completely focus on their studies. These can include forgoing sleepovers, parties, going out, and dating until college. The extreme pressure and focus can cause children to feel as if they haven’t been able to fully experience a childhood.

“[Restricting] freedom is like a dam, you don’t open it all at once when you turn 18, that would cause a flood, but if you don’t open any, that would also cause overflowing,” Nair said. 

Among Western society, tiger parenting is often portrayed in a negative light due to its harsh disciplining methods. However, in several households, love is expressed through actions, rather than words of affirmation or hugs and kisses. Their intentions are only to help their children create a better life for themselves than they had. Contrary to neglectful parenting, tiger parenting stems from selfless love for their children and the hopes that they grow up to be the best versions of themselves. 

“This kind of parenting roots from what they were missing as a child, and putting it onto the children. They wanted to be something and they couldn’t do it, so they thought their children should do it,” Nair said. “Of course they care about your future. We can agree that they really do love us.”

Several children of tiger parents are able to understand the reasons for their parent’s methods, and are appreciative of them for the most part. 

Junior Muskaan Chandarana appreciates her parents efforts, and believes she would not be as high achieving without their push. 

“If my parents followed a different lifestyle, I would be off the rails, and I would not be focused at all,” Chandarana said. “Your parents or your guardians want what’s right for you. They have the best intentions in mind. They want you to succeed, and as far as I know, mine do.”

Although every parent has their own way of raising their kids, and there is no definite answer to what the “right” way is, kids raised by tiger parents seem to mostly agree on what they think the best form of parenting is. 

“Everyone’s got their own choices, but if I ever had children, I would want to have a really open relationship with them, that I would try to support them through everything but still push them to be their best,” the anonymous student said. “But I would want a relationship with my children to have the most mutual respect for each other. I understand that there is a barrier between parents and children, but I’d like to get as close to that barrier as possible.”

But at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that what works for some may not work for others. There is no definite answer to what the right form of parenting is, and every parent-child relationship is different.