In 2011, a Yale professor by the name of Amy Chua published a book called the “Hymn of the Battle of Tiger Mother” which led to the creation of the term “Tiger Mother”. The term referred to the concept of Tiger Parenting which was a Chinese method of raising children in a result oriented manner. In her book Chua describes how her two daughters were denied pleasures like going for sleepovers, watching television, playing video games etc. in order to make them excel in their academic or professional pursuit. This form of parenting involved prioritising achievement over emotional growth and to a greater extent, a child’s happiness. While Chua claimed that her children showed exemplary results following her rigorous approach, it started a global debate over the pros and cons of such a practice.
After watching Dangal, I realised that in certain senses Indian parenting is not entirely different. The movie essentially depicts the journey of two girls who go on to achieve national glory in the sport of wrestling despite hailing from a patriarchal set up where the sport was dominated by men themselves. They are driven to this achievement by their own father whose ambition it was to see their daughters win gold since he could not bear boys (this article is NOT about whether the movie portrays a misplaced sense of feminism). He moulds their entire lifestyle, right from a very young age, to help achieve this one dream. This included depriving them from indulgences like eating teekha or sweets or even watching TV to make sure no distraction comes in the way of their sport training. Since Aamir Khan as the father knows the value of one gold medal he believes the sense of achievement that will come thereafter, it will make the hardships seem worth it.
Think of it through the prism of a bigger lens; is sacrificing a childhood for a greater cause worth it? Is it okay to fiddle with your child’s emotional growth in order to make them excel at a particular field? Is there an empirical benefit so big and that can justify such difficult means to this end? At the outset the answer appears no, but there are shades of grey in a personal relationship like that of a parent-child.
Chua’s article sparked a global dialogue. Comparisons began to be made between Western Parents and Eastern parents and whether going easy or going tough produced better results. Chua’s own children went on to secure a position in the esteemed Ivy League colleges with a nod of appreciation from former British PM David Cameron who believed it was a form of “continued hard work and concentration”.
But there exists evidence against the same. A study conducted by University of Berkeley on various forms of parenting and the subsequent effect on children led them to conclude that “Children raised by authoritarian parents are showing maladaptive outcomes, such as depression, anxiety and poor social skills”. A feature published in the American Psychological Association stressed upon the fact that supportive parenting yielded independent and successful children as against negative parenting.
IN NEXT SLIDE: READ ABOUT THE CRUCIAL PARENTING ASPECTS