I picked up Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua after reading the article Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, also by Amy Chua. The book is an interesting look into Chua’s strict parenting style and how she raised her two daughters. It seems like a very difficult childhood to me, other perhaps “childhood” is the wrong word: no sleepovers, extracurricular activities other than the ones picked by mom, no TV, lots of studying and practicing musical instruments, etc. It feels like she made her children act like adults from the time they were born.
The book gives an inside view of a lifestyle very different than my own. I can’t imagine what my childhood would have been without friends, extracurricular activities that I had personally picked, unscheduled afternoons in the park or long bike rides with friends. I have a lot of happy childhood memories and I wonder if Chua’s daughters can say the same. It’s great to be accomplished and successful, but is it worth it if you have to go to the lengths Chua did to get it? I don’t have children but if I had to resort to belittling and screaming at my children in order to get them to become talented I would much rather to have a happy relationship with children who had no special talents. Many of the things that Chua says and does to her children would be considered abuse by many North Americans, and she admits as much in the book.
The book did grab my attention at first but it can be very dry in parts, and incredibly repetitive. After awhile I was thinking I get it, you make your kids practice more than most other parents, enough already! The book also made Chua sound very full of herself as she puts a lot of emphasis on how much she did for her kids, and how much she gave them, and how she got them to be so successful. She rarely acknowledges their talent or their hard work and actually sounds much warmer and more loving when she talks about her dogs.
I would give this book a 2/5. If you’ve already read Chua’s article Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior then I would skip the book. If you haven’t read the article and were thinking of giving the book a try I would recommend skipping it and just reading the article instead.