Monday, August 18, 2014

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua Review

"An awe-inspiring, often hilarious, and unerringly honest story of one mother's exercise in extreme parenting, revealing the rewards-and the costs-of raising her children the Chinese way.

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.

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

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."

I'll tell you that I read this book when I was younger. Maybe not that young. Maybe like mid-teens or something like that. I can't remember. My "tiger mother" made me read the entire book with her while I rolled my eyes and dreamed about Harry Potter, which by the way is far more entertaining and interesting. Not to mention, awesome. I remember being someone dazed and a bit annoyed by how much effort my "tiger mother" gave to get me to be top of class, blah, blah, blah.

Now, after five years, I read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother again and am now officially angry. At Amy Chua, my mother, and the standards this book set. If Amy Chua's purpose in writing this book is to make me feel dumb, she succeed. Oh, I should add that she also made me feel a bit disappointing and a disgrace to the Chinese society, which, according to her, was upheld by "four thousand years" of standards. Sure, she made reading her book funny and entertaining, but in reality, it is like a damn slap to the face to those who have little talent, are too spread out (jack of all trades), or dropped out of school.

What she made me feel: I want to support anything she says or claims to be bad or disgraceful. Maybe, she is right, but I hate how demeaning some parts of the book are. Plus, she totally went rude on the so-called "Western parents." She does a lot of stereotyping. Maybe white people are "lazy." But not all of them are. Maybe Asian kids are all "smart" and "overachievers." But not all of them are. There are some people who are unique in the world. They aren't robots or machines. They are not doctors, computer specialists, musicians, or engineers. They are artists, who believe in bringing life to their works. Not everyone follows these rules Chua dedicate.

Maybe I'm rebellious. I don't care. Honestly though, Chua takes Chinese parenting to a whole new level. And she does pin it right on, unfortunately. However, I don't think there are any Asian parents who stick it to that level. Other than the crazy Ivy Leagues-worshipers. I say they are extreme when listing them on the Asian parenting scale.

Yes, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is well written. However, I, as a reader and daughter of a "Tiger Mother," think these methods and psychological warfare and tactics to be extreme. Growing up with these little games of cat and mouse, I have a front seat of these sorts of things. I'm sure my mother is very close to being a "Tiger Mother." The difference? My brother. The "Tiger Mother" in my family uses most of those skills to help my brother, taking the heat off me. Usually. But years ago, my mother would probably be screaming at me to do multiplication or writing.

In my opinion, this memoir touches on personal feelings and memories. But after all those tactics and doing/making those schemes, there are always the more ironic parts of life. Take me for example. I used to be kicking and screaming just to avoid anything with writing. Look at me now.

From a daughter of a crazy "Tiger Mother" with a lot of opinions.

Rating: Three out of Five

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