Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Written By: Kellie - Mar• 09•11

Title: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Author: Amy Chau
Rating: 3.5/5 Violins
Spoilers: It’s a parenting book… are spoilers even possible?

As part of my year long challenge I wanted to read a book that was on my store’s bestseller list, rather than the books no one has ever heard of that I usually read. This one made it on our bestseller non-fiction shelf yesterday and I read the entire thing today. Interesting book.

It’s all about “Chinese parenting” and it’s contrasts to our crazy Western ways. I’m the first to admit I was brought up in a fully “western” household. I’m Irish-Canadian, my parents aren’t strict and I have everything I could ever want for. Not that Amy Chau’s kids don’t, they are obviously well loved, just maybe lacking in some free time. I mean, wow… either of her children easily accomplish more in a day than I do in a week.

The whole book reads as an explanation to her children as to why she has been as rigid and unforgiving as she has been, but there is still a lot of insight to be gained. At least she was able to admit that she may have made some mistakes along the way, otherwise she definitely would have painted herself as an insane tyrant. Not that I have any doubt about how much she loves her children or that millions of other parents share her philosophies. It is what it is, but I’m definitely glad it wasn’t my childhood.

Now, this book is in the parenting section of the store I work in, so how does it measure up in that department? I think it will best stand the test of time as an interesting cultural insight and alternate perspective for anyone who doesn’t parent the way she does and perhaps as a form of recognition and acceptance for any parents who do. I don’t have children of my own at this point so I can’t really judge but there are definitely some things that I think more parents should adopt. For example, when her daughter gave her a quickly scribbled, 30 second birthday card, she flat out rejected it stating that for all the trouble she goes to for her children on their birthdays, she deserves some real effort put into her birthday card. And she’s right. Buuuut, that’s about it.

While I know this isn’t something that could be controlled, I found it a huge benefit that her husband is white. It offers a nice contrast and I would be curious to see what his take on her parenting techniques are and if he feels that the benefit outweighed the cost to their daughter’s childhoods.

After reading this book I actually went and did a load of laundry, scrubbed my bath tub and changed the water in my fish tank just because I needed to do something. So if nothing else this book definitely inspired me to use even a bit more of my potential. When I have kids, will I be modeling my parenting skills off of Amy Chau’s? Not likely. But I do think this book will stick with my for awhile, it has definitely given my something to think about.

Final note… kind of random but I’ve been watching that ‘Beyond Scared Straight’ show lately and this was a really interesting contrast to the coke head thirteen year olds I’ve been watching on television. So while I would never choose Amy Chau’s method of parenting, it’s definitely preferable to what so many of these kids have had to go through. I’d still pick the happy medium though.

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