Book Reviews: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Friday, September 14, 2012

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua.
When I heard about all the controversy surrounding this book when it came out last year, I was excited to read it. I finally got my hands on it a few weeks ago and couldn't put it down. I'd like to share a few thoughts on this memoir/guide to Chinese parenting.

For starters, it's an easy read. However, she is a Yale law professor. I wish I would have kept a dictionary handy while I was reading!

While she is often self-depreciating, I think she is purposefully making herself out to be utterly outrageous. Some of her parenting practices seem unreal. Threatening to leave her 3 year-old out in the snow because she wasn't obeying her, spending tens of thousands of dollars on violin lessons, making her daughters practice their instruments for 5+ hours daily, no playdates, no sleepovers...the list goes on.

Much of the book is pointing out differences between Chinese parenting and American parenting. Which is funny because her daughters know they are not really Chinese. They have a Jewish dad and are growing up in Connecticut. Another theme in the book is one I have labeled as how not to parent your daughter whose personality clashes with your's. She and her youngest daughter often have screaming fights that seem to reduce the mother to a savage. Again, I wonder if this is how it actually went. Perhaps she is being over outrageous to sell books. Or maybe she really is crazy. (Read her explanation of the book here.)

Throughout the book I kept wondering how her husband was putting up with all her outrageous behavior. She writes him up to be patient and only intervenes in the most extreme examples. I wish he would write his own memoir.

Given her extremes, her version of parenting does have some aspects that Nate and I want to implement into our own family on a much smaller scale. I really hope our children will learn to love music and will play an instrument. I also think there is something important in encouraging your children to stick with an activity. Chua refused to let her daughters quit their instruments. I really gave my mom a nasty time in order for her to let me quit piano. But what if she hadn't given in to my fits? (Not that I blame her, I have a long history of starting a new hobby and quitting as soon as it gets hard). What if I had taken lessons into high school? Maybe I wouldn't be a concert pianist (definitely not), but maybe I would at least be able to play hymns for church and some simple songs to entertain my children. The moral of the story is, I want to teach our children  enough determination and foresight in order to see the need to stick with great hobbies/activities/talents like playing an instrument and playing sports or painting or making ceramics or whatever it is!

I also hope that we can help them understand that we have high expectations for them. I hope this will demonstrate to them their potential.

Have you read this? What did you think of it?
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