The Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother Book Review: Mother Or Monster?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

25 thoughts on “The Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother Book Review: Mother Or Monster?

    • there is really no telling. this is their culture and hopefully it works for them. for us, this seems really extreme, but i guess it boils down to the kids and how they will perceive such parenting. the author has two daughters: one went along with the chinese way while the other rebelled.

  1. buti na lang hindi ako chinese! haha! i’ve heard of this book because it garnered some controversy.

    as a parent, i always try NOT to comment on how parents raise their kids. there are no black and white instructions. to each his own ika nga. what works for me may not work for others. minsan lang, you cringe at the way people treat their kids. parang over naman. kids are human beings, not objects.

    the bottomline here is love… our love for our kids. if we do love our kids, iba iba man tayo ng paraan sa pagpapalaki, it will all turn out okay. 🙂

    pS: winner ito: After all, there is a the big difference in high achieving kids and high achieving kids who want to commit suicide. haha! sapul!

    • totoo yan, hindi ko nga rin alam kung dapat bang magcomment ako eh hindi naman ako magulang pa. but at the end of it, if it works for them and nobody commits suicide, then great! pero may middle ground naman kasi diba, yung tipong maayos pero hindi naman parang nabulldozer yung mga bata? sabi sa book kg, “most people stink at the things they love”. 😆

  2. On the other side of parenting here, as in my children are adults. One main thing surpasses everything else: being human. Education, it’s such an important part of life, but we learn not just from books, nor ceaseless repetition.

    If she believes hard verbal pushing is a good thing, there’s another side to that approach: verbal abuse.

    • i find it really interesting when the author speaks of her father who went against the chinese way and he turned out okay and she cannot find an explanation for it. i think that should have been enough clue. she narrates one incident when she was at a party and she told people there about the one time she called her daughter garbage and she wondered why the people there ostracized her immediately!

  3. Mind.blown. You know this weird language? My tongue twists and cannot pronounce the sounds it should! About the book – it’s not only the chinese mothers that are overly ambitious! It’s any parent that was brought up in a strict regime (be it political or personal). They would want their kid to succeed and do better than them so they want to “equip” him from a young age with all the “mana” he can carry.
    My mom was the same! It showed as she stayed with me on every homework until highschool, always checked everything I did in school and expected nothing less than excellence.
    I did deliver to make her proud of me but on a personal level I was done for. Had my first boyfriend at the tender age of 23 and only at 25 did I pick enough courage to move out from my family home (it was a huuuuuge scandal). So yea, the moms are good but their children will excel in the profession and not in the personal side…

    • mother goose is strict too but this author makes her look like a saint. on thing the author did not do though is mention spanking her kids – this i experienced and i can say it did not go well with me. but the thing is, i believe my parents wanted me to be the best but did not overdo it. this one however is over kill. i’m glad you’ve survived the scandal of moving out. i have yet to do it. the delay is because i’m not certain i want to do it 😀 i think my social awkwardness is also because of the child rearing i got. but i’m not sure either.

  4. I have observed the “Chinese” way of raising kids. Partly because my boss is Fil-Chinese, I have Chinese friends, and the community I am exposed to everyday is basically Chinese.

    Its true, Chinese parents are bent on developing “heirs” and not just producing “children”. They see their children as an extension of themselves, especially in taking care of the family business. That’s the reason why they “start them young”. “Empty Nest Syndrome” would come in late.

    On the other hand, if Chinese parents have too much control on their kid’s life, Western parents have the opposite ways and beliefs… They prepare kids to be independent, respecting “autonomy” and “individuality”. They believe that they would be better individuals as they learn along the way. They make kids accountable for their own actions, at an early age. “Empty Nest Syndrome” would come in early.

    At dahil ako ay Pilipino, heto naman ang kabuuhan ng aking paniniwala:

    Ang mga bagong sibol ay di dapat diktahan,
    Sa murang gulang, hayaang mabukulan,
    Hayaang madapa, hayaang masugatan,
    Upang sa pagtayo, may bagong matutunan…

    Paano nga ba sila nagiging kapakipakinabang?
    Simulan natin sa pagpapalaki ng magulang,
    Ang unang paaralan ay ang loob ng tahanan,
    Sila ba ay nagagabayan, napapangaralan?

    Tama na igalang ang kanilang mga pananaw,
    Lalo na kung kanilang kaisipan sa inyo’y halaw,
    Pangarap nina Ama at Inang di natupad,
    Huwag iaasa, may sarili silang mga lakad…

    Sa bawat pagharap sa hamon ng murang buhay,
    Tatag at paniniwalang nabubuo, naisasabuhay,
    Lumalabas ng kusa ang kanilang tunay na kulay,
    Saka lang makikita kung makakapamuno ng husay…

    Kabataang Filipino, pag-asa ng bayang naghihingalo,
    Kabataan, handa ka bang magbigay ng iyong serbisyo?
    Handa ka bang gumuhit ng bagong larawan ng bayan?
    Ng di sumasabog ang tinta, di napupunit ang kapapelan?

    Maraming pagdadaanan ang isang bagong sibol,
    HIndi magiging madali, baguhin ang isang kuhol,
    Natutuwa sa sulok, bukana’y natatakpan ng usok,
    Kailangang piliting lumabas, mula sa silid na nabubulok…

    Ano ba ang nais ng mga katandaan mula sa mga kabataan?
    Ang maging sila ang mga ito at sundan mga yapak sa hagdan?
    Mundong inyong kinagisnan ay iba sa mundong kinamulatan,
    Ibang sanhi ng suliranin, iba din ang nararapat na katugunan…

    Gabayan silang manimdim mula sa aral ng kahapon,
    ‘Wag mangiming magtanong, sa mga pantas ng lumang panahon,
    Pagsamahin ang katalinuhang sa karanasa’y may pinaghuhugutan,
    At ang mga resulta ng pananaliksik ng makabagong kaisipan….

    Iyan ay ang aking kathang “Ang Bagong Sibol”… Isang tulang sumasalamin sa aking paniniwala bilang isang magulang…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s