Wow! What a lot of controversy this book has created. I will be up front in saying the most I have read or heard has just been little blurbs here and there, and even before hearing the criticism I had plans to read this one.
While the book is titled Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, three sentences follow this title:
This is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs.
This was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones.
But instead, it's about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how I was humbled by a thirteen-year old.
What Chua should have added, was that this was also a book not only chronicling the Chinese way of parenting, but also couched in humor, not meant to be taken entirely seriously. And in addition to making herself out to be just a little bit crazy, it is also a book that shows Chua to be just as hard on herself as she is on her children.
So, yes Chua is a bit over the top in her parenting techniques. The excessive practicing of piano and violin forced on her daughters is, well, excessive. The many rules are also a bit too much. And, when she is asked who she is doing this for - herself or her daughters- she is almost entirely sure it is for her children. But despite all of this, I rather liked Chua. She has received much criticism for her parenting, especially for an incident where she called her daughter garbage (that has been on several newsclips I've seen).But what parent out there hasn't regretted something they've said in anger? Chua's desire for her daughters to be the best isn't really that strange, although her tactics at achieving it might be, at least in today's world. Many parents today give their children whatever they want all the while trying to be their friend. I have heard many a parent and teaching colleague bemoan this fact. Just this morning a library patron talked about his own grown daughter's attitude of entitlement. While he blames himself for this problem, realizing it was his parenting that helped create this attitude, it reinforces some of Chua's statements about Western parenting.
While Sophia, Chua's oldest daughter, willingly acquiesced to her mother's demands, Lulu, the rebellious second child fought back. She did not want to practice violin, and the two had many heated battles. Although by book's end there is peace, and Lulu and Sophie know that their mother has divulged to the world the inner workings of their feud, I am curious how the two girsl will feel about their private battles being made public - if not now, in their future.
I don't plan on using Chua's tactics with my own children. I might tell my children how good they have it - explaining how strict and disciplined their lives could be. But, I did enjoy this book, having read it with the knowledge that Chua wrote this as something humorous, not to be taken entirely seriously.
Who else has read Tiger Mother? What are your thoughts?