Aaron's Reviews > Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
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Jun 02, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: biography, culture, borrowed_books
Read in May, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is the story of how the author tried to use what she considered traditional Chinese parenting techniques to raise her own daughters. The book details the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of her experiences and opens a door on a parenting style much different than can be found in much of America.

It was not as controversial as the media and initial press made it out to be, but it was somewhat thought-provoking. There are some interesting tidbits in the book that seem to ring true. For example, nothing is truly fun until you're really good at it; this is probably the most true and powerful maxim in the entire book. If you're serious about a hobby, sport, instrument, or other extracurricular activity, it's more fun when you're highly skilled at it. I find plenty of examples from my own life (I never learned to ice skate despite growing up in Wisconsin because I did so poor at it the first few times I went).

I think that most people took offense to some of the extremes that the author went to in order to make sure her daughters were the best musicians they could be. No extracurriculars or sports besides music. 4-6 hour practices at home, on weekends, and on vacations. A very involved mother who coached, cajoled, threatened, and praised at all times during practices. Very little to no praise in public.

For the most part, I think the author realizes that all of these techniques had there flaws. The system worked beautifully for her older daughter but ended up back-firing with her younger daughter. My opinion is that the author was unwilling to bend or modify her routine after seeing it work for so long. But, in the end, her children are socialized with other children whose parents treat them very differently. And, every child reacts differently to adolescence; those same techniques could end up failing miserable (as they did) under the right conditions.

The author is a little self-congratulatory; her system didn't completely fail. She has one successful pianist and a budding tennis star; both of whom excel academically. They also seem socially well-adjusted with plenty of friends. How can she not be happy with how she raised her children. Still, this isn't a how-to; it's not suggesting we all raise our children the Chinese way (although, she does not have any respect for Western methods and never once suggests she should have moved more in that direction). This book sets out to outline a method of raising children very different from what is done in the US, and it details only one family's highs and lows.
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