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Do Tiger Mothers have any effect at all?

26 July 2013

8:55 AM

26 July 2013

8:55 AM

Remember all the fuss about ‘tiger-mothering’ sparked by Amy Chua’s book: Battle-Hymn of the Tiger Mother?  Mothers around the world began agonising about whether they were pushing their children hard enough. Well here’s a thought, sparked by our interview with the brilliant Professor Robert Plomin in the magazine this week. Maybe Amy’s children, the tiger cubs, would have got all those A+ results anyway, even without her cracking the whip so hard.

Professor Plomin has studied over ten thousand pairs of twins and found that IQ is strikingly heritable – and that it becomes more heritable as kids grow up. Part of the reason for this, he suggests, is that bright kids naturally seek out intellectually stimulating environments, thus enhancing the genetic effect.

Now Amy’s a smart cookie: she’s a professor of law at Yale where her husband teaches too and her father was a professor at UC Berkeley, so her kids are highly likely to have inherited clever genes. Amy’s aggressive parenting eventually led to her daughters becoming defiant and unhappy – though now all seems to be well. But were all those punishing years of Tiger Mothering even necessary?


You can read Mary Wakefield’s piece on Professor Robert Plomin’s research appears in this week’s Spectator. Read the full piece here.

Offer of the summer: Three months’ FULL access to The Spectator (iPad, iPhone, web, Kindle Fire and print) for just £12. Click here.

Here’s Professor Plomin’s interview on The World Tonight last night, prompted by Mary’s interview with him in The Spectator:-

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