Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
Book description~ All decent parents want to do what’s best for their children. What Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reveals is that the Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that. Western parents try to respect their children’s individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions and providing a nurturing environment. The Chinese believe that the best way to protect your children is by preparing them for the future and arming them with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother chronicles Chua’s iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, her way-the Chinese way-and the remarkable results her choice inspires.
The truth is Lulu and Sophia would never have had time for a playdate. They were too busy practicing their instruments (two to three hours a day and double sessions on the weekend) and perfecting their Mandarin. Of course no one is perfect, including Chua herself. Witness this scene:
“According to Sophia, here are three things I actually said to her at the piano as I supervised her practicing:
1. Oh my God, you’re just getting worse and worse.
2. I’m going to count to three, then I want musicality.
3. If the next time’s not PERFECT, I’m going to take all your stuffed animals and burn them!”
But Chua demands as much of herself as she does of her daughters. And in her sacrifices-the exacting attention spent studying her daughters’ performances, the office hours lost shuttling the girls to lessons-the depth of her love for her children becomes clear. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is an eye-opening exploration of the differences in Eastern and Western parenting- and the lessons parents and children everywhere teach one another.
Question 1- when did “doing what’s best for your children” equate to “forcing your kids to be what you want them to be”??? Question 2- what ever happened to unstructured free time to let kids just BE KIDS?!?!? Question 3- where was Jed the father throughout this story? He basically took a backseat. I believe parenting should be shared between a mother and father when a couple is married.
For starters, I did not like this book. This book was chosen by the book club I am in and our discussion next week should be extremely controversial and interesting to say the least. This book made me cringe and get very upset. However, because this is a memoir and because parenting is an EXTREMELY hot button topic, I’m going to keep my review as brief as possible. I don’t blog to ruffle feathers, incite a riot, or hurt loved ones. This blog is just something fun and lighthearted for Fabookulous and I to journal our adventures through books. Furthermore, it’s not my place to tell anyone how to parent or not parent their own children. The beauty of our country is the freedom to live your dreams and raise a family according to your beliefs. At the same time, we know many of you turn to this blog for book suggestions. At first, I was not going to write a review at all, but that defeats the point of only reviewing books I really liked.
Amy Chua (the Tiger Mother), believes in the extreme practice of Chinese Parenting. Here are some things Amy Chua would never allow her daughters to do:
-Have a playdate
-Be in a school play
-Complain about not being in a school play
-Not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
-Play any instrument other than the piano or violin
-Not play the piano or violin
Shocked yet? Yeah, that’s only the beginning.
One thing that scares me most about the Chinese Model of extreme parenting is that I believe it raises codependent children. Codependency is a disorder that will affect you later on in life, and in your interpersonal relationships. Have you ever met someone that apologized profusely for the slightest thing? Or was overly timid and needed approval of others to feel confident? I believe this model is a self-fulfilling prophecy. This model illustrates individuals who want people think their children are so smart and talented that they are forced into the rigors of unhealthiness in their hobbies, studies and extra-curricular activities. Codependency can manifest later in life through anxiety disorders, alcoholism and drug use because over 18 years of this model, children grow into adults that have only known how to put their own feelings/thoughts/desires/wants secondary to appease/please others. When finally they are out on their own, they have no idea how to navigate a life that makes THEM happy; they’re completely out of touch with their own drive in life.
Basically, codependent children live to make their parents happy and for their parents’ approval. This is an extremely tough concept for people to wrap their minds around but it happens daily as you bargain with your children. In my heart, I genuinely believe the Chinese Model of parenting raises generations of codependency, low self-esteem and subservience. No, I don’t have a degree in psychology but this is an area I have much life experience with.
Take my review with a grain of salt and read the book for yourself so you can decide. Then take some time and reflect back on the relationships you have or have had in the past, and the way you were brought up and you may begin to draw some seriously scary parallels. I freely admit that I have no answers or a magic bullet on how to raise children. This is something my husband and I will define for ourselves over a lifetime of trial and error. However, what I believe to be a helpful model is to expose your children to lots of different things and eventually they will find a niche that will build confidence instead of expecting them to find confidence because you told them so. I hope to find the wisdom and practice that will enable my children to be strong, independent people who make up their own minds.
I’m not going to say anymore; I’ll let you be your own judge. =)
8 down, 18 to go!
Up next, A Place of Yes by Bethenny Frankel