Monday, December 3, 2012

Amy Chua: "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother"

I recently got around to reading Amy Chua's  "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother".   I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I think it has in many ways been misunderstood. I thought from reading previous reviews that the book was a manifesto of a "Tiger Mother" about how strict Chinese type parenting will create high achieving straight A students  who at the same time are violin or piano virtuosos!  Yes , it is some of that but also it is an intentional self parody and  ultimately a story of how a  "Tiger Mother" needs to give her rebellious teen age daughter rein to find her own way in life.

Amy Chua's family is not the traditional first generation immigrant family . Amy , born of Chinese immigrant parents , is a Yale law professor and married to Jed a Jewish American  fellow Law professor. They have two daughters Sophia and LuLu and two dogs.

Amy's description of her strict parenting style of enforcing constant study , straight A achievement , and 6 hour marathon piano and violin lessons while forbidding sleep overs with friends for her daughters has gotten a lot of press.  What has not necessarily got as much press is the story of how this parenting style collides with her teen age daughter's desire to be themselves and how one parent's desire for the success of their children and  her belief in how to achieve it brings heartache and pain both personally and interpersonally as it collides  full force with her children's own individuality.  It is a story and a memoir that is much more complex then has often been made out in the media. In the most recent version of her book , Amy , adds a post script talking about the reception the book got in different countries.  The response and questions she got in Western media as opposed to when she went to China with her daughters is fascinating!

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