Tiger mother

tiger mom

Typically I would read a book, have an opinion on it, and post it quickly in the Books are our friends section of this blog. And for the record, I don’t post every book I read because that would be tedious and a decent number of the books I read right now are chick lit which is generally good reading (I recommend anything by Hester Browne if one needs a solid beach read!) but not generally worth reviewing, even so briefly as I do.

Anyway. The other week I found a copy of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua at a Goodwill. It was $1 and I remembered that the book had fueled great controversy when it was first released not long ago, so I brought it home. For some reason I thought it would be more research-heavy, all “studies show” and stuff. It wasn’t, it was entirely anecdotal and a very quick and engaging read.

Like I said, the book caused a major flap when it came out but I wasn’t really paying attention then. I do remember that Today had Chua on to talk about the book when it was published and that generally speaking, Americans were aghast at the book and its author. Chua stood her ground, and I, as someone who tends to be skeptical if I’m not flat out rejecting something, figured I would largely be on Chua’s side.

Holy tiger mother, Batman. I kid you not, this was my face more than once:

insane shocked

As we’ve established on this blog and in person, if we’re real-life friends, I don’t generally agree with and therefore don’t generally practice typical American battery-powered here’s-a-prize-for-participating-and-oh-didn’t-you-do-so-great-everyone-is-a-winner parenting. The husband and I, by dint of our personalities and conscious decisions, lean toward the less child-worship and more whole-family-focused French way of doing things. On paper side by side with sweeping generalizations about American parents, our Francophile methods can look inflexible or callous. (They’re not either one by any means. Look closer.) But compared to Chua’s tiger mother methodology, we’re on track to run a veritable Pleasure Island over here.

I could go on for days about this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who, well, anyone. It’s quick and it sheds interesting light on cultural differences that I bet most of us have encountered in some form. One thing Chua insists is that all parents want to do what’s best for their children, “the Chinese just have a completely different idea of how to do that” and that’s where I disagree with her the most. Obviously she’s right, Chinese and Western parents do have a different view of how to do what’s best for our children but I think a more serious difference can be found in what we think is best for our children. Without understanding first what we believe is best for our kids, how we accomplish it is a moot point.

And also:

whaaaat

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2 thoughts on “Tiger mother

  1. I haven’t read the book. How does the Chinese definition of “what’s best for a child” differ from the American one or the French one? (Loved the Chuck face, by the way. He always makes me smile.)

    • Very (very) broadly speaking and with a positive spin on each*, Americans believe the best thing for a child is independence and the pursuit of happiness, the French say it is raising balanced, conscientious citizens, and the Chinese think it is giving their children skills to be successful in the future. But independence, conscientiousness, and success come in different degrees and the question “to what end?” should always be asked. No two parents in most of these cultures would have the same answer to that one.

      *Negative spin: Americans believe in feelings, the French in socialism, and the Chinese in conformity.

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