Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom by Amy Chua
Genres: Parenting, Memoir, Non-fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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At once provocative and laugh-out-loud funny, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother ignited a global parenting debate with its story of one mother’s journey in strict parenting. Amy Chua argues that Western parenting tries to respect and nurture children’s individuality, while Chinese parents typically believe that arming children with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence prepares them best for the future. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother chronicles Chua’s iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, the Chinese way–and the remarkable, sometimes heartbreaking results her choice inspires. Achingly honest and profoundly challenging, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is one of the most talked-about books of our times.
It’s easy to see why Battle Hymn offended so many people. I know all too well how poorly dry humor comes across in the written word, especially when you don’t know the author or aren’t looking for it. And, honestly, who is looking for dry humor in a book marketed as a “parenting book”? Even aware of the satirical nature of the book, and even as a person with the driest sense of humor, I often had a hard time telling when Amy Chua was joking.
That being said, Battle Hymn was really more memoir than parenting book, and it was an honest, touching, funny memoir. Her parenting choices were hilarious in their extremity, especially to a music teacher like me. I completely understand exactly why she did what she did, though I would never make those choices myself. And clearly her daughters turned out the better for it.
While I disagreed with Chua’s philosophy that childhood is a chance to prepare for a successful adulthood rather than have fun, I completely agreed with the philosophy that children are capable of so much more than we give them credit for (and that most activities are more fun when you’re amazing at them). I also think they deserve the opportunity to be pushed and challenged, even if I would challenge a little less than Amy Chua did. And I really admire her guts to put what she knew would be such a controversial parenting style into print. She put her credibility as a parent on the line, something few people are brave enough to do. And while most of America hated her for it, I applaud her.