After concluding The Hangman’s Daughter (not great), I wanted to read the controversial Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. Joy Behar had Chua on her HLN show, and it was abundantly clear Behar had not read the book and was inadequately prepared for the interview. Maybe if Joy was raised by a Chinese mother she would have come to the conversation prepared instead of publicly humiliating herself with a substandard performance? Just saying, irony detected.Chua’s 256 page parenting memoir isn’t an instruction manual. She discusses her own experience applying the Chinese parenting model to her deeply contrasting daughters Sophia and Lulu. Specifically, the book is about shaping those daughters into piano and violin virtuosos – whether they liked it or not.Hopefully, without further feeding the prone-to-misinterpretation excerpt fire, here are some interesting points from Chua’s Tiger Mother: “Chinese parents have two things over their Western counterparts: 1) higher dreams for their children, and 2) higher regard for their children in the sense of knowing how much they can take.”One of the reasons this book polarizes so many is its heavy reliance on racial and ethnic stereotypes. Keep in mind Amy Chua didn’t grow up in China, but makes sweeping generalizations about “Chinese parenting,” and extends these generalizations even further to include pretty much all immigrant parents. She’s painting with broad strokes here, but those experienced in strict immigrant parenting recognize a few authentic similarities lurking amidst the offensive lumping together.“Never complain or make excuses. If something seems unfair at school, just prove yourself by working twice as hard and being twice as good.” Can anyone really condemn this advice? Nobody is ever interesting in hearing you complain.“What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you are good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work…”Life is basically forcing yourself to do things you don’t want to do. The sooner kids learn this harsh reality, the better.Chua’s three big differences between the Chinese and Western parenting mindset:
1) “Western parents are concerned about their children’s psyches. Chinese parent’s aren’t. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.”
2) “Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything.”
3) “Chinese parents believe that they know what is best for their children and therefore override all of their children’s own desires and preferences.”Chua serves up a sizzling Mom-burn when she tells her temper-tantrum-throwing teen, “There is nothing more typical, more predictable, more common and low, than American teenager who won’t try things. You’re boring, Lulu – boring.”Much of what Chua has to say is right on, but through her journey she learns that there are limitations to despot parenting. A short read without much of a conclusion, this book will appeal to folks falling into one of the three categories: 1) parents, 2) children of immigrants, and 3) those forced to endure hours practicing a musical instrument.