Chinese-American moms whose children did not appear to be doing as well at college reported less parenting satisfaction; Euro-America moms' satisfaction wasn't affected by their children's college performance.
The most important factor in parenting satisfaction for all mothers turned out to be the degree of mutual warmth. Pushing your child to achieve more and more can (but may not always) push your child away from you emotionally.
And yet, and yet, and yet ...
Amy Chua's daughter was just accepted into Harvard this month. And according to the Daily News, this particular tiger cub is also a piano prodigy and “an able writer who eloquently defended her mother in the press.”
Alexander Nazaryan, a member of the Daily News editorial board, points out the overall results of the American emphasis on fun and warmth over achievement: “In the most recent Program for International Student Assessment exam, American teenagers placed 31st in math, 17th in reading and 23rd in science among 65 competitors. Shanghai, China's largest city, topped all three categories -- by far.”
As Amy Chua noted, “In one study of 50 Western American mothers and 48 Chinese immigrant mothers, almost 70 percent of the Western mothers said either that 'stressing academic success is not good for children' or that 'parents need to foster the idea that learning is fun.' By contrast, roughly 0 percent of the Chinese mothers felt the same way.”
I did not have a tiger mom. I'm a Spock baby, and I raised my children the same way, emphasizing support and closeness over pressure, routine and discipline.
Frankly, I worry about that a lot. It worked for me -- will it work for them?
We mothers can't know until it is too late, hence the anxiety.
All parenting strategies have costs as well as benefits.
The only thing I'm certain of is that every mother sacrificing to raise decent kids deserves respect, and not uproarious, dogmatic, overanxious condemnation.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.