My Battle With “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” by Amy Chua

Ok, so I was waiting to write my first blog until I finished my most recent book club book (yes, I moved to the suburbs AND joined a book club, but we’ll get to that in another blog.  The book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Motherher,” by Amy Chua creates I had real issues with.  You know when you are driving along the highway and you see what appears to be an accident so you tell yourself you wanna peak but then you realize it might be disturbing so you look away but then you are curious so before you know it you’ve looked again and see way more than you planned and at this point are so grossed out you wished you had never given in?  Well, that’s how the “Tiger Mother’ book was for me, completely disturbing.

Amy Chua is an uptight, pain in the butt perfectionist Chinese woman who was raised Catholic by two imigrant Chinese parents.  She is married to a nice, even- keeled American Man who was raised Jewish and together in New Haven Connecticut they have two daughters  who they had decided would be raised speaking Mandarin Chinese and be brought up in the Jewish faith.  Amy Chua identifies two general styles of parenting as “Chinese” parenting and “Western” parenting.  Within the Chinese parenting she used there is no tv, no cpmputer games, no playdates, no birthday parties, no sleepovers, no team sports, no drama or performing arts, and each child must play either the piano or the violin, whichever SHE chooses.  Also, only an “A” is accepted in school and her child must be number 1 in any and all classes attended.  The “Western” parent is anyone that I would consider normal who allows the above but in moderation. 

Reading Amy’s daily torturing of her daughters to go to school all day and then practice 5 hours of an instrument she forces them to play was miserable enough to have to read, I can’t even imagine how horrible it would have been to live through.  While a “Western” parent  thinks it is important for kids to learn to socialize and build relationships and individual comfidence by being part of a team, Amy thinks only having her girls on their own and being number 1 is the only thing important.   And wile “Western” parents say kind and encouraging words to their kids to help build their confidence and self esteem, Amy believes screaming and yelling at your child and telling them they are horrible unless they are the best is the better way to produce a confident child who will be perfect.  Yes, her girls did become very talented mucisions and one even played at Carnegie Hall and they both went on to perform together in Russia, but everything other than those events sounded like pure Hell.  This woman must be an absolute pain in the ass to live with and I don’t know how her husband could still be with her, to be perfectly honest.  Also, she spent any time that would be family time draggin the girls into New York City early on the weekends for private tutors and fancy music lessons.  Then when the family would have “quality time” on vacation together, even then the one daughter had to travel with ehr violin and stick to her grueling practicing schedule before seeing and sights while for the other daughter Amy would call the hotel in advance and make arrangements for the child to have blocked out practice times where they had access to the hotel’s lobby or bar piano, even if the only available times were at 5am or late at night.

Somehow the older daughter tolerated her Mother’s crazy parenting style, but the younger daughter and her would get into screeming matches regularly where they would say they hated eachother, and this went on for years.  Finally the younger daughter was a teenager and just flatout told her Mother she was quitting and that was that.  The violin at this point had taken over the girl’s life and after like 10 years of the daily 5 hour practices and constant screeming matches the mother finally allowed her to take a step back and keep it as something to do on the side.  In the meantime she could have been enjoyinhg her Daughter all of those years, and enjoying the quality fmaily time they could have focussed on in the past.  Doesn’t she realize that it is a priveledge that she may even have a better realtionship if they scream a little less and the child comes in number 2 in the class.   At one point she had hired the best tutor in Russia and the teacher was screaming at the childright in front of the Mother until the child was visibly shaken.  I would never sit there allow anyone  to scream over and over in my child face, we “Westerners” have a name for that…it’s called “child abuse.”  The fact that with her thinking this builds confidence or helps the child reach perfection is so twisted and disturbing.  The whole time I just kept thinking the whole family would have been better off if she herself had picked up a hobby that she spent 5 or 6 hours a day on so she would leave them the heck alone!   

My Advice for Ms. Chua would be that in your next life you should either lighten up or move back to China to raise your children so your children with think that you and their childhood are normal instead of living in a Western culture where they are always feeling like an outsider with a crazy Mom whose expectations they can never live up to!

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