Molding The Perfect Child

Parenting styles that have shaped students


Parental pressure can cause stress for students as they strive to perform at a high level to meet expecations set by their parents.

While most eighth graders are busy playing on the D1 basketball team, working on Capstone projects and going to weekend birthday parties, sophomore Shraeya Iyer with the insistence of her parents, spent her eighth grade year preparing for the SAT so that she could be accepted into the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.

This style of parenting is not uncommon as overbearing parents have become a brand with the coining of various terms such as “elephant parents” and “tiger parents”. Tiger parents are the parents who push their kids to be number one in everything they do. This term, which describes a southeast-Asian parenting style, has been popularized by Professor of Law at Yale University, Amy Chua in her book, “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”.

On the other hand, elephant parents blend a caring tone with structure and obedience to ensure that their children are grounded enough to succeed but also have enough freedom.

Iyer has experienced even more stress now, as an Upper Schooler looking ahead to college.

“Growing up, I would have considered my parents to be tiger parents as they pushed me, which was more important because I was less self-motivated, but now I feel like I have it ingrained in me to be my own tiger-parent and to push myself because of how I have grown up,” Iyer said.

In contrast, Iyer’s mother would not label herself to any sort of parenting style.

“I think I am neither a tiger parent nor an elephant parent. The way I parent is the only way I know, and I feel at this point my daughter already has her values and it is her job to take [them] into her life. So now I hold more of a supportive role,” Iyer’s mother, Anooradha Raman said.

Retrospectively, Iyer echoed that everything her parents did for her was to benefit her future.

Growing up with parents who immigrated from India, junior Rohan Raman had a similar assessment to Iyer.

“It comes from the culture my parents were raised in, such as how much they are involved in their kids’ lives,” Raman said.

Parenting in the college process can be challenging, especially in being mindful of boundaries.

“I think supporting your child when they need the support but also letting them make their mistakes is probably the best thing you can do,” Associate Director of College Counseling Britten Nelson said.

These boundaries do not only exist physically but also verbally.

“It is also dependent on the pronouns that parents use such as ‘we are taking the SAT this week’ or ‘we are applying to this college’ but it is not ‘we,’ it is the kid with guidance from the parent,” Nelson said.

Nelson also said that there are stereotypes that fulfill themselves in the college process, with parents who went to the most reputable schools wanting the same for their children. She worries that while the tiger parenting philosophy might work in terms of college admissions, kids who have always had parental support might flounder once they reach college as they would lack necessary independence.