'Tiger parenting' linked to depression, poor social skills

June 22, 2013 at 1:17 AM
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BERKELEY, Calif., June 22 (UPI) -- Children raised by authoritarian parents -- described in the book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" -- are showing poorer mental health, U.S. researchers say.

"Children raised by authoritarian parents are showing maladaptive outcomes, such as depression, anxiety and poor social skills," Qing Zhou, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a statement.

Long before Amy Chua's 2011 memoir raised the bar for tough-love parenting, UC Berkeley developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind coined the terms, "authoritarian," "permissive" and "authoritative" parenting in the 1960s. These constructs are still widely used in social science:

-- Authoritarian parenting: rigid, punitive, verbal hostility, possible corporal punishment.

-- Permissive parenting: indulgent, few or inconsistent rules, use of bribery to motivate, love and nurturing more consistent with friendship than guardianship.

-- Authoritative parenting: Warm, supportive, sets boundaries, uses reasoning and encourages a child's democratic participation.

Zhou said research showed authoritarian parenting, which can include tough academic pressure, can lead to poor mental health outcomes for children and teenagers, such as depression, anxiety and poor social skills.

Most recently, Zhou's research team ran an 11-week parenting class at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University for divorced Asian-American mothers, many of whom are Chinese immigrants raised in the authoritarian tradition.

"When they first came to the workshops, a lot of them would say, 'Why should I praise my child for doing something they are supposed to do?' But we encouraged them to try and they saw positive changes in their relationships," Zhou said.

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