Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
by, Amy Chua
I was contacted some time ago about doing a review of this book, and even though I find very little time for leisure reading more than an article or short story, I agreed to read and review Amy Chua’s latest book, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. I knew even before receiving my copy this was a book about Amy trying to raise her daughters in a strict Chinese fashion, and the difficulty of doing so in the United States. I enjoy learning about other cultures and think of myself as an open minded person (and parent), and given the common Chinese stereotype of raising successful children, I was interested to see the differences.
Many people, in the recent interviews I’ve seen, have criticized Chua for her extreme methods of parenting. I, myself, admit shaking my head in disbelief and repeatedly sharing excerpts with my husband and friends. Chua’s daughter’s Sophia and Louisa, for example were not allowed to do the following:
There are also a few instances in the book that have caused Chau to come under fire such as the time she “rejected” a birthday card from her daughter that she thought was inadequate. I cannot say that I agree with something as extreme as this, and to me, that’s what this book represented, an extreme.
Do I think that today, in the this country, the “family” is in crisis? Absolutely. Do I think that perhaps if more people were involved in the lives of their children we’d be more successful as a nation? Absolutely. Do I think we should explore other parenting methods to see what works best? Sure. Do I think everyone should try to be a “Tiger Mother?” Please don’t.
This book is a good read, and I was surprised at how many times, I was unable to put it down. I wanted to see what Amy would do next, how her daughter’s and husband would react, and just how extreme she was/is. I hope, for the sake of Amy’s children, that she has exaggerated some of what was in the book, but somehow, I think this was an honest depiction of Amy and her attempt to raise her children in strict Chinese fashion. For her honesty, especially knowing (I’m sure) that she would catch a lot of criticism, I give her credit. Overall, any book that makes me re-evaluate my own parenting style/skills is a good one. My children do watch television, unlike Amy’s, but maybe too much. I want my kids to learn to play an instrument, but perhaps I let them choose which they’ll play also unlike Amy’s children.
Amy says “Chinese parenting is one of the most difficult things I can think of.” I say, parenting, no matter where you are from and how you choose to raise your children, should be one of the most difficult yet rewarding things a person can do. Will we all get it right all of the time? Probably not. Are we all learning as we go? I think so.
For a very interesting (and pretty damn controversial read), I suggest picking up a copy of Amy Chua’s “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.”