Book number 27: The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by A. Chua. Many thanks to my Babe for the book. 🙂
What it is: The book is a memoir, one woman’s journey on motherhood, and an exposition of the Chinese way of parenting while contrasting it with the Western way. In general, here are three areas that differentiate the two as printed on The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother:
- Western parents are extremely anxious about their children’s self-esteem… concerned about their psyches. Chinese parents aren’t. They assume strength not fragility. That’s why the solution to substandard performance is to excoriate, punish, and shame the child.
- Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything… The understanding is that Chinese children must spend their lives repaying their parents by obeying them and making them proud.
- Chinese parents believe that they know what is best for their children and therefore override all of their children’s own desires and preferences.
“The Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they’re capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits, and inner confidence that no one can ever take away” – I am all for this but at the same time, I agree that it is important to emulate Western parents in the way that they “try to respect their children’s individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passion, supporting their choices, and providing positive reinforcement and a nurturing environment.” After all, there is a the big difference in high achieving kids and high achieving kids who want to commit suicide.
It’s quite difficult for me to make this review because no matter what, parenting is a controversial subject, and this book is a cultural thing, so in my book review of The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I’ll make the memoir speak for itself as much as possible to capture its essence in some way.
What I liked about it: The memoir is riveting, breezy, honest, personal, and brave in its attempt to explain the “diligent, disciplined, confidence-expanding Chinese way” of parenting. I agree with the author in her quest to have “higher dreams for their children and higher regard for their children in the sense of knowing how much they can take.” I love the concept of not letting kids give up and helping them build confidence by assisting them in doing something they thought they cannot accomplish. I’d like to believe that “all decent parents want what is best for their children.” I know how important it is to arm kids with skills and train them to become the best that they can be. But having said all that, “the Chinese just have a totally different idea how to do that” and thus gives way to everything I disagreed on…
What I did not like about it:While extremely thought provoking, the narration can come off as arrogant, obsessive, and overbearing, harboring on oppression. Apart from a fixation on Chinese values, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother stresses “exclusion, excoriation, humiliation, loneliness”, “verbal abuse, brutal demands, and disregard for children’s desires“. It is almost cannibalistic and barbaric, with the Chinese way’s use of “mutual threats, blackmail, and extortion,” among others.
Case in point: the author calls her children coward, pathetic, self-indulgent, and… garbage. The author of The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother tends to be “overbearing and fanatic” to the point that she rejects birthday cards given to her by her daughters, because they are not good enough, and in turn her kids call her “insane” and likens her to Lord Voldemort. Her husband complaints that she “was pushing too hard and that there was too much tension and no breathing space in the house.”
By pushing too hard it means not letting her kids miss practice of their musical instruments even on birthdays, vacations, also when they are sick or have had dental surgery. White as a ghost from food poisoning, she would still push her child to attend an audition and even threatened once that she will burn all the stuff animals she has if she won’t do right in practice.
Oh God… According to The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother memoir, “Chinese parenting does not address happiness.” I think that’s very obvious. The fact that Chinese parenting assumes an obsolete know-it-all position in the lives of the children does not go well with me too, on so many levels. Plus, the author admits the Chinese parenting approach does not tolerate the possibility of failure – which is its downfall, because next to death, you can count on it that failure is a constant in life.
Recommended for: all parents, mothers, and individuals who want to raise kids. Please read The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother to improve and widen on your parenting approach, skills, and principles.