Friday, June 10, 2011

"Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" Part 2

Last night I finished Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and slept on it... and now what I was going to say is mostly out of my head. (Probably fell out of my ears while I was tossing and turning last night.)

I won't ruin the story for you (much). But Chua does eventually make peace with her daughters and the tiger.

Over the course of reading it, I talked about it to many people. A lot recognized the story of the tiger mom and usually followed that with "that horrible mother!" (Most of the time, this was someone who had only heard the rough outline, not actually read the book.)

The thing is, I don't think she was a horrible mother. A lot of the book was Chua comparing Chinese and Western philosophies and raising children. And truthfully, she points out a lot (if not most) of the flaws with Western parenting. Not to say that hers is flawless.

There is no such thing as a perfect parenting technique. Or at least, that's what I got out of it. Each person, each child is different and so is each parent. In the end, it was the acceptance that there is no one way, for Chua. Who has this to say on her website:
Jokes aside about A+s and gold medals (much of my book is self-parody), in the end for me it’s not about grades or Ivy League schools. It’s about believing in your child more than anyone else – more than they believe in themselves – and helping them realize their potential, whatever it may be.

My book has been controversial. Many people have misunderstood it. If I could push a magic button and choose either happiness or success for my children, I’d choose happiness in a second. But I don’t think it’s as simple as that; it can be a tough world out there, and true self-esteem has to be earned.

I genuinely believe that there are many ways of being a good parent. We all want our kids to grow up happy, strong, and self-reliant. But different cultures have very different ideas about the best way to do that. And we should all be able to learn from each other.

If you are interested, Amy Chua also has a twitter. Her eldest daughter, Sophia, has a blog and twitter as well.

It's easy, at least it was for me, who grew up with Western ideals and thinking, of how horrible it was for this woman to push her daughters so hard. But in the end, I don't think she wrote the book to show how her methods worked (or didn't). I think she wrote the book to show that a parent's job is a choice and how it effects the children. Chua's unapologetic about how she did it, and even says she'd do it all over again.

She was still able to salvage a good, healthy relationship. And I think that's what matters. To be able to admit when you're wrong. To be able to grow. And to be able to compromise.

At least, that's what I got out of it.

Days till China: 8

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like a fascinating read, I'm really thinking about buying it. While I may not agree with everything Chua did, I can actually understand a large portion of it. In a way, it makes sense why she did the things she did. I think I'd want to see my children succeed and be happy too. If it means pushing them hard when their young so that they can choose from every option available when older, I don't know if I'd be as harsh as she is, but I would probably still push. I don't know, I guess I can understand it is all. Thanks for the great thoughts, I loved reading these two blogs. :)