The Fine Line Between Parent Bullying and Parenting

The term tiger mom became closely linked with extreme parenting after Yale professor Amy Chua released her book Battling Hymn of the Tiger Mother in 2011. In this book Chua detailed her strict parenting style for her two daughters which included, banning them from having sleepovers and punishing them when they received low grades. Although Chua’s children have proven to benefit significantly from her strict parenting methods, many parents and scholars have criticized Chua for being too extreme. Unfortunately, it appears that extreme parenting is becoming more widespread, as parents search for new methods to discipline and raise their children. However, the severity to which some parents have chosen to punish their children has come across parental bullying. For instance, consider the recent story that made headlines when a mother in New Jersey punished her son for stealing by forcing him to stand on street and wear a sign that read “I steal from my parents all the time”. When a passerby caught sight of the sign, he called the police and child protection services on the mother. The mother was not ultimately charged for her punishment towards her son, and claimed that she used such extreme measures on her son as she had tried numerous disciplinary methods, but found that none had worked properly. In a survey conducted by tellwut regarding the topic of parental bullying, tellwutter’s were asked to state whether they viewed this mother’s behavior to be a form of bullying. Over 4000 panel members participated in the survey and the results revealed that 27% viewed the mother’s actions to be crossing a fine line between parenting and parental bullying, while 45% of panel members did not think that the mother’s behavior was crossing the line of parent versus bully. The remaining participants 26% indicated that they were unsure if a barrier was crossed. When panel members were asked whether they would use a similar technique to what the mother used to discipline her child, the results revealed that 30% of voters would use a similar form of punishment towards their children. In contrast, 43% of participants would not use a similar form of punishment to rectify their child’s behavior, while the remaining 27% of voters were uncertain if they would use a similar form of discipline on their children. When asked to express their overall opinion of this situation, 46% of voters felt that the mother’s decision was not wrong considering that she tried other disciplinary measures in the past. In contrast, 33% of voters felt that the mother should have chosen a different form of punishment towards her child and 21% remained undecided on the topic. Ultimately, it is apparent that parenting styles and the way in which they are enforced will vary from parent to parent. The most important thing for parents to do is to choose a parenting style that works to improve the child and does not harm the child’s self-esteem, because in many cases more harm than good will result. As well, parents must keep in mind that taking extreme measures is not always necessary, because not every parent is meant to be a ‘tiger’. It is essential that parents follow a model that suits themselves and their children, because children need guidance and encouragement in life- not a bully. “Your kids require you most of all to love them for who they are, not to spend your whole time trying to correct them.” ? Bill Ayers  

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