Monday, May 2, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother - Amy Chu

This book has received so much press, of course I had to read it. Amy Chua is presented in the media as a somewhat abusive and overly driven mother. While the examples she gives for how she raised her children (not allowing sleepovers for one) seem harsh, there are some fundamental principles in her "Chinese" parenting techniques that I was raised with, and that I definitely agree with. This book, however, was very difficult to read. While Chua seems to have some reflection on what her parenting did to her two daughters, she seems to revel in the meanness of it all. While I applaud the general notion that parents are there to push their children and set boundaries, not to be their best friends, she seems entirely deaf to her childrens' wishes and their need to have friends of their own and to be happy. Chua has definitely sacrificed for her children - spending hours upon hours standing over them while they practice the piano and violin and driving them to all kinds of auditions. But, I fear that all that sacrifice has only served to make them all truly miserable. Chua's oldest daughter was just admitted to Harvard. While many see this as a ringing endorsement that her methods "work," I'm still not sure that achieving this type of "success" is really for every one. People joke about Tiger Moms now, but I do think they have a lot to teach other parents - who these days seem overly indulgent with children who take advantage of them, or are too lazy to ever truly work for anything. At the same time, I think Chua could take a lesson or two from the Western parents she criticizes, and listen to her children instead of always thinking she knows what is best. This book sparked a lot of positive discussion in my home about how I hope to raise my son, and I think there is great value in this book if you look beyond the crazy and get to the heart of the Tiger Mom's philosophy.

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