Thursday, September 6, 2012

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Nonfiction by Amy Chua.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Yeah, I know. Everyone else read this book two years ago.

I read the reviews and excerpts two years ago and was incensed. Read this excerpt and see why:

"A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents
raise such stereotypically successful kids.
They wonder what these parents do to produce
so many math whizzes and music prodigies,
what it's like inside the family, and whether they could do it too.
Well, I can tell them, because I've done it.
Here are some things my daughters,
Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:
  • attend a sleepover
  • have a playdate
  • be in a school play
  • complain about not being in a school play
  • watch TV or play computer games
  • choose their own extracurricular activities
  • get any grade less than an A
  • not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • not play the piano or violin.
The Chinese mother believes that
(1) schoolwork always comes first;
(2) an A-minus is a bad grade;
(3) your children must be two years ahead
of their classmates in math;
(4) you must never compliment your children in public;
(5) if your child ever disagrees with a teacher or coach,
you must always take the side of the teacher or coach;
(6) the only activities your children should be permitted
to do are those in which they can eventually win a medal;
 and (7) that medal must be gold."
There follows a lot more stuff about how lazy and unmotivated the rest of us are versus the Chinese. And how much better Amy Chua's daughters in particular are, versus everyone else's kids. So unsurprisingly, this book caused a lot of controversy.
However, upon reading the whole book, I have another opinion. This is one of the most honest memoirs I've read. I enjoyed it.
It's not a how-to for parenting. I'm still horrified by some of the mean things she said to the kids (rejecting the birthday card her four-year-old made for her as not good enough, calling her daughter's "garbage," et cetera) but it made for entertaining reading.

Also, it really made me think about the ideas of: What do we as parents want for our children, and what are we willing to do in order to accomplish our goals? What is the most important thing in child-rearing: a happy child or a successful child? (obviously both would be good!)

Every mom has to answer these questions for herself.


  1. I'm with you. I posted about this book some time ago. Very honest book and didn't deserve the criticism it got

    Have a great week!

  2. Thanks Carole! I know I'm behind in reading this now but glad I did! :)