“Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” is written by Amy Chua, published by The Penguin Press

Been meaning to read this one for a while – received a lot of press recently and caused something of a stir in terms of creating a dialogue about different parenting styles and how the author was supposedly endorsing a specific way of parenting. The backlash against this book was pretty intense for a while there and seems to have touched something of a chord in a lot of parents about how to best raise children.

This book, contrary to the interviews I heard and other reviews, isn’t a book about how to raise children in accordance with “Chinese parenting” styles, rather it is a book about one mother and her two children and their successes and failures.

It is interesting to journey with Chua through various piano and violin lessons, auditions, concerts and the ups and downs of raising children to be “prodigys”.

Very interesting and intriguing read, but at times I have to admit that I’m not sure who I feel sorrier for – the mother who goes to tremendous amount of personal sacrifice and time to do for her daughters, her two daughters who by the end of book seem to feel resentful to each other and their mother or the father who is a mostly silent character in all this.

Chua does a nice job of defining what she means by “Chinese mothers” and what she means by “Western mothers”, which is much-needed in a book talking about cultural differences in parenting and she rightly points out that “Chinese mothers” aren’t limited to females of Chinese descent, but rather means a greater group of parents who are more structured, more militant than the average permissive parent that seems to abound in today’s current society in USA and Canada.

I liked it.

Chua offers some interesting insights and some interesting views about parent-child relationships and how children learn to become adults themselves including how the parent-child relationship changes over time. Cleverly, she provides an interesting tension in the differences between her two daughters, the elder one who is responsive and obedient and the younger, rebellious one.

Chua shows that what works for one child, for some children will be the complete downfall of another. Interestingly, she almost completely destroys the relationship with both children in the process, but she gets there and learns her lesson.

About mid-way through the book, Chua starts dealing with a sister who is diagnosed with a rare form of aggressive leukemia, which provides an extra layer of interest and tension to her family dynamic and struggles to raise her two daughters.

Enjoyable kind of read, but not exactly what all the hype was about. This was less a book about how to raise your children in accordance with Chinese parenting practices and more about how every child and family is unique, she ends up making more of a case for birth order psychology than for parenting style.

Good read, especially you have four hours and are interested in stories about parenting styles, but now after reading, have to say that it wasn’t a book that was true to its hype.

Or maybe I missed the point again.

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