“[E]ntertaining, bracingly honest and, yes, thought-provoking.”—The New York Times Book Review
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.
“Few have the guts to parent in public. Amy [Chua]'s memoir is brutally honest, and her willingness to share her struggles is a gift. Whether or not you agree with her priorities and approach, she should be applauded for raising these issues with a thoughtful, humorous and authentic voice.” —Time Magazine
“[A] riveting read… Chua's story is far more complicated and interesting than what you've heard to date and well worth picking up… I guarantee that if you read the book, there'll undoubtedly be places where you'll cringe in recognition, and others where you'll tear up in empathy.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother hit the parenting hot button, but also a lot more, including people's complicated feelings about ambition, intellectualism, high culture, the Ivy League, strong women and America's standing in a world where China is ascendant. Chua's conviction that hard work leads to inner confidence is a resonant one.”—Chicago Tribune
“Readers will alternately gasp at and empathize with Chua's struggles and aspirations, all the while enjoying her writing, which, like her kid-rearing philosophy, is brisk, lively and no-holds-barred. This memoir raises intriguing, sometimes uncomfortable questions about love, pride, ambition, achievement and self-worth that will resonate among success-obsessed parents… Readers of all stripes will respond to [Battle Hymn of the] Tiger Mother.”—The Washington Post
About the Author
Amy Chua is the John M. Duff Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Her most recent book is Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations. She is also the author of The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America (co-authored with Jed Rubenfeld). Chua's first book, World on Fire, was a New York Times bestseller and selected by The Economist as one of the best books of 2003; while her second book, Day of Empire, was a critically acclaimed Foreign Affairs bestseller. Chua lives with her husband, two daughters, and two Samoyeds in New Haven, Connecticut.
Read an Excerpt
This is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs. It's also about Mozart and Mendelssohn, the piano and the violin, and how we made it to Carnegie Hall.
Excerpted from "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother"
Copyright © 2011 Amy Chua.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 The Chinese Mother 3
2 Sophia 6
3 Louisa 10
4 The Chuas 14
5 On Generational Decline 20
6 The Virtuous Circle 25
7 Tiger Luck 30
8 Lulu's Instrument 35
9 The Violin 42
10 Teeth Marks and Bubbles 50
11 "The Little White Donkey" 60
12 The Cadenza 64
13 COCO 77
14 London, Athens, Barcelona, Bombay 85
15 Popo 93
16 The Birthday Card 102
17 Caravan to Chautauqua 10s
18 The Swimming Hole 114
19 How You Get to Carnegie Hall 121
20 How You Get to Carnegie Hall, Part 2 130
21 The Debut and the Audition 137
22 Blowout in Budapest 144
23 Pushkin 157
24 Rebellion 167
25 Darkness 176
26 Rebellion, Part 2 179
27 Katrin 185
28 The Sack of Rice 190
29 Despair 194
30 "Hebrew Melody" 198
31 Red Square 202
32 The Symbol 207
33 Going West 210
34 The Ending 216
What People are Saying About This
"Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is the book we've all been waiting for - a candid, provocative, poignant and vicarious journey through the Chinese- American family culture. It will leave you breathless with its bluntness and emotion. Amy Chua is a Tiger Mother, a greatly gifted law professor and, ultimately, an honest, loving woman with a lot to say."
"This is one outrageous book, partly thanks to Amy Chua's writing style - Chua is pugnacious and blunt, with an unerring nose for the absurd ...The cultural divide Chua so brilliantly captures is one we stand to witness more and more in our globalized age, after all; and what with Asia and Asian achievement looming ever larger in the American imagination, the issues inherent in Battle Hymn are as important as they are entertaining... I was riveted by this book"
-Gish Jen, The Boston Globe
"Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother did more than speak to me. It screamed, shouted and lectured me. It made me simultaneously laugh with empathy and cringe with embarrassment and exasperation... Charming... Self-effacing... Guffaw-inducing"
-Terry Hong, San Francisco Chronicle
"Readers will alternately gasp at and empathize with Chua's struggles and aspirations, all the while enjoying her writing, which, like her kid-rearing philosophy, is brisk, lively and no-holds-barred. This memoir raises intriguing, sometimes uncomfortable questions about love, pride, ambition, achievement and self-worth that will resonate among success-obsessed parents... Engagingly and provocatively chronicled. Readers of all stripes will respond to [Battle Hymn of the] Tiger Mother.
-Elizabeth Chang, The Washington Post
"[Chua's] writing is smart and lively"
"Chua's mindset and methods-bolstered by faith in Chinese family tradition-pose a useful challenge for an era haunted by a helicoptering ethos as hard to shake as it is to like. Here is an alternative to the queasy hypocrisy of typical hyperparents, buffeted by shifting expertise that leaves them anxious about overpressuring even as they push. Chua breaks through all that. She is a crusader invigorated by practicing what she preaches: the arduous work she believes necessary to do anything well, child-rearing included... But precisely because Chua slaves away as hard as her girls do, one thing her program is not is guilt-inducing. In the end, her ordeal with Lulu teaches Chua humility and proves her daughter's very healthy autonomy-and inspires next to no regrets."
Reading Group Guide
Amy Chua only wants the best for her children. For her, that means bringing them up the way she was raised as a first generation Chinese American, with Chinese values and a strict set of rules. Her husband Jed is from a liberal Jewish background and grew up with parents who encouraged individual choice and independence. Together they agree on raising their children the “Chinese way”—arming their daughters for the future with discipline, hard work, a sense of accomplishment, and respect for their elders. The highly accomplished lawyer, professor, and author sets about her child–rearing with the same single–minded drive and determination that got her into Harvard and Harvard Law School.
Chua’s hands–on Chinese model works beautifully with her older daughter Sophia. Sophia is a natural, inquisitive student and a fast learner. From an early age, she excels at piano, playing at Carnegie Hall when she’s only in eighth grade. While she recognizes that she’s different from her peers, she seems to take her mother’s rules in stride. Lulu, Chua’s second daughter, is a very different story. Born just as three–year–old Sophia began taking piano lessons, Lulu proves to be equally talented in both academics and music, “but instead of her success producing confidence, gratitude toward parents, and the desire to work harder, the opposite happened. Lulu started rebelling . . . against everything [Chua had] ever stood for” (p. 168). This only makes Chua more determined to push onward, which in turn amplifies the tension in their household, producing a true battle of wills. Chua will eventually be forced to evaluate her choices to be a tiger mother and reconcile the daughter she has with her own expectations.
Brutally honest and fiercely determined, Chua’s memoir raises questions about traditional approaches to parenting in the twenty–first century, the inevitable clash of cultural attitudes in a multicultural society, and how to best prepare children to succeed in an increasingly complicated world. As she investigates her own assumptions, Chua is unafraid to poke fun at her flaws, yet she articulates her convictions with passion and precision. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a funny, serious, smart read that is as entertaining as it is thought–provoking.
ABOUT AMY CHUA
Amy Chua is the John M. Duff Professor of Law at Yale Law School. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability and Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance—and Why They Fall. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and two Samoyeds in New Haven, Connecticut.
A CONVERSATION WITH AMY CHUA
Q. In your introduction you note that this was supposed to be a book about parenting and it evolved into a different sort of story over time. Can you talk about the book’s evolution? What surprised you in the process of writing it?
I’m embarrassed to say that I intended Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother to be much more literary, the farthest thing from a parenting guide! It’s actually a pretty complex book, and I was hoping that readers would appreciate its humor and irony. Believe it or not, the models for my book were Dave Eggers’s A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and David Sedaris’s Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim—both books with unreliable narrators. The narrator of my book is a patently flawed character—initially obtuse, boastful, outrageously overconfident—who goes through a crisis and transformation. Much of the book is self–parody. For example, there’s one part when I’m talking about my dog, and I say, “I had finally come to see that Coco was an animal.” Anyone who read that line straight must have assumed that I had pretty low cognition skills!
Q. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a departure from your other books, which are more focused on politics and history. What made you decide to write something so personal?
Actually, I wrote this book in a moment of crisis, when at age thirteen my younger daughter, Lulu, rebelled against my strict parenting and seemed to turn against everything I stood for. Around the same time, my younger sister, Katrin, got leukemia and had to have a bone marrow transplant. Her kids were just ten and one at the time. It was the darkest two years of my life, and for the first time, I began asking myself, “Have I done everything wrong?” After one terrible public fight with Lulu—the culminating point of the book, which takes place in Red Square, Moscow—I suddenly realized I might lose my daughter. And when it hit me that way, I didn’t care a bit about school or violin; I just wanted to keep my daughter. So I pulled back—not entirely, but we sat down and talked, and a lot of things changed. Anyway, the day after the blowup in Red Square, I sat down at my computer, and even though I usually have writer’s block, this time the words just poured out—I wrote the first two thirds of the book in two months. I showed every page to my daughters and my husband. It was like family therapy. In retrospect, I think writing the book—going back eighteen years to when my eldest daughter was born and I was a very different person—was an attempt to put the pieces back together and work things out for myself.
I did eight years of academic research for my first book, World on Fire, and five years of research for Day of Empire. I did zero research for Battle Hymn—it came from a completely different place.
Q. What were some of the challenges of putting your family relationships on paper?
Because I wanted to clear every line of the book with my husband and both daughters, there were four separate sets of memory to accommodate, so we’d often argue over the facts, then I’d have to revise to reflect everyone’s comments. It wasn’t always easy, but the experience—which also included a lot of nostalgia and laughter—really did bring my family together.
My husband—who has a very strong personality—also told me that he didn’t love being a character in someone else’s book, so he asked me to keep him mostly in the background. But if you read between the
lines, what should come through is how central he was to everything and how he dealt with my excesses—supporting me in front of the girls, advising (sometimes challenging) me behind the scenes, and bringing balance to the family.
Q. You’re very honest in these pages about your own flaws. How do you imagine your readers view you, and what image do you hope they will take away from this book?
Some people will of course disagree with me, but I also received hundreds of e–mails from people—of all backgrounds, from all over the world—who wrote to say that my book made them laugh, cry, and understand their own families better. And this made everything worth it, and helped carry me through some of the rougher periods.
Some of the most touching emails I received were from people who had grown up with a tiger mother. For example:When I read your book, I cried because I know how painful it is to be forced to such an extreme. But mostly, I cried because I recognized what my mom went through to shape me into the person I am today—the infinite hours she spent sitting through all my practices, teaching me lessons beyond my grade level, and endlessly arguing for my benefit. My mom endured my hatred and made sacrifices I can never make up to her. And, in spite of everything, she has always given me her unconditional love and patience. Reading this now makes me recall all those bittersweet moments that ultimately built my character.
It was also fun to hear from tiger parents and tiger cubs of all stripes:OMG your book had my mom and I rolling on the floor! I’m Pakistani American, and I was the “Lulu” in our family. My mom just said, “Everyone needs to be called katchra once in a while.”—katchra being the Urdu word for garbage. I can’t even count the number of times my father and mother called me katchra, and somehow I have escaped with amazingly (astoundingly, even) high self–esteem.
But my favorite e–mails may have been from non–tiger mothers like this one:As one of those weak Western moms who doesn’t ban her kids from most activities and thinks a B+ is acceptable, I read your book and immediately recognized a kindred spirit. I appreciate your honesty about your struggles as a parent. As I am in the midst of dealing with my younger son’s teenage rebellion, I can tell you that your book was a comfort and a joy to me.
Q. Your daughters were deeply involved with music throughout their childhoods. What sort of life lessons do children get from learning to play music at a young age?
I definitely think that learning music can help instill a strong work ethic, self–discipline, and focus in children—skills that are particularly important in this age of constant media distractions. But for me, music really wasn’t so much about preparing my kids for the future—I didn’t think of it strategically. Both the piano and the violin are capable of producing such beauty, something deeper and more meaningful than watching television or surfing the Internet for ten hours. I think both my daughters would agree with me on this one.
Q. The chapter devoted to your sister Katrin’s illness introduces a new element and mood into your writing. How, for you, did this chapter change the narrative?
For me, Katrin’s illness was cataclysmic and horrible—talk about suddenly questioning all of one’s priorities. And it raised what may be the book’s central theme. The last lines of the book are:Given that life is so short and fragile, surely each of us should be trying to get the most out of every breath, every fleeting moment. But what does it mean to live life to its fullest?
We all have to die. But which way does that cut? In any case, I’ve just told Jed that I want to get another dog.
Q. You state that you’re “not good at enjoying life” (p. 97) and most of your attention in raising your children seems to be focused on the future. Do you see this as a positive or negative attribute, and is it something you see in your daughters?
I’m definitely a Type A person and not so good at “living in the moment”—I don’t like spas or massages, I always have a long list of to–dos, and I can only take in the beauty of a sunset for so long. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a happy person. On the contrary, I have a lot of fun. I love throwing big parties (you should have seen Sophia’s sixteenth birthday party; Lulu’s is around the corner), going out to dinner with friends, and traveling with my family to new places. Also, this may surprise people, but my daughters think of me as a kind of zany person. They are much more scared of their father!
If I could push a magic button and choose either happiness or success for my children, I’d choose happiness in a second. But I don’t think it’s as simple as that. I don’t believe that if parents let their kids do whatever they want, their kids will be happier. In America today, many parents are very permissive. Yet we have disturbingly high rates of teenage depression, anxiety, and low self–esteem. It’s also not a formula for happiness for kids to grow up and not be able to find a job as an adult.
Q. There’s a lot of discussion of what has changed between the generations of your family. What values would you like to see passed on and what would you like to see evolve in the next generation?
Both Sophia and Lulu were asked in an interview by The Guardian (London) what kind of parents they would be when they grew up. To my surprise, they both said they would be strict parents (although both said they would allow a few more playdates). I couldn’t believe my ears when Lulu told the reporter, “My mom and I have fought a lot. But I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for her. And I wouldn’t like that.” At the same time, both Sophia and Lulu are much more public service–oriented than I am, and I deeply admire that. For understandable reasons, first–generation immigrants tend to focus mainly on their own family and the future of their children. I think it’s a wonderful thing that subsequent generations tend to be more community oriented and interested in helping others and giving back.
On the other hand, I worry all the time about raising spoiled, entitled children. “Not on my watch!” I write in my book. I believe that kids with a sense of responsibility, who know when to experience gratitude and humility, will grow up to be less selfish, better–adjusted, and happier adults.
Q. Have you found the act of writing about your family’s life has brought you closer to them or illuminated certain aspects of your life that you wouldn’t have considered beforehand? If so, in what ways?
Writing the book definitely brought my family closer. I think Sophia and Lulu were better able to understand what was going through my head when I was say, chastising them for a bad grade or arguing for another hour at the violin. And I got a better sense of how they experienced things. But perhaps what surprised and touched me the most was how my whole family rallied around me when the global firestorm broke out. So many other teenagers might have been resentful or angry at all the harsh media attention directed at our family. But not Sophia and Lulu—I got so lucky! At the height of the tsunami Sophia published a letter in the New York Post defending me, which was so mischievously witty and lighthearted that I think it turned the tide of public opinion. Lulu, meanwhile, edited all my op–eds, searched the Internet (which I couldn’t bear to look at) for the few rare nice comments, and texted them to me with messages like, “Here’s a good one, Mommy! Some people like you!”
Q. What are you working on now? Do you have plans to write more memoirs?
I do indeed have another book in the works! But it’s a secret for now. Stay tuned.
- In the beginning of her book Chua describes her daughters’ personalities from birth. In what ways are they inherently different from one another?
- Chua identifies herself with her Chinese zodiac sign the tiger. How does she exemplify its characteristics? Are there any ways in which she might defy those characteristics? Can you relate to your own zodiac sign?
- What role does music play in Chua’s life as compared to her children’s lives? And does music play such an important role in your own life?
- How is Lulu and Sophia’s childhood different from their mother’s, as Chua describes them? Do you see similarities and differences in your own childhood?
- Never a pet lover, Chua reluctantly ends up raising two dogs, Coco and Pushkin. How do the dogs change her, and what does she learn from them?
- What do you think about Chua’s relationship with her younger daughter, Lulu? How do they push each other’s buttons?
- Chua only intermittently discusses her husband’s opinions, but mostly keeps him out of her memoir. What can you glean about him from these pages?
- If you could ask Chua one question, what would it be?
- At the end of the book Chua expresses some regrets about her choices. What does she regret and how do you imagine she might do things differently, given the chance?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love love love this book! I know it's been controversial, but those that hate this book are simply threatened by it. As a woman raised by the quintessential "chinese" mother (although she was polish, and had never even been to china), I completely agree with Chua's perspective on child-raising. As she so correctly notes, while the "chinese-mother" school of child raising can mean your child and you have storied pitched battles throughout their childhood, if done correctly (with the deep love and humor both Chua and my own mother have with regard to their children), it results in accomplished, satisfied, and stable adults who genuinely love and respect their parents for the incredible effort and love put into raising them. My own anecdoctal evidence supports this conclusion: I find that I have a much healthier, closer and more enjoyable relationship with my mother, as well as to myself, than many of my friends and acquaintances raised by the traditional "american" model of permissive parents afraid to say "no" for fear of damaging their allegedly delicate self-worth. The delightful thing about Chua's book, however, is that it is not simply a dry manifesto about the virtues of raising children the "Tiger" way. Rather, she intervenes her delightfully personal, honest story with comments showing her ability to both laugh at herself and learn from her mistakes (which, as any parent knows, are unavoidable in some degree!). Even for those of you that won't gasp with recognition at some of Chua's stories, it is a delightful book which is absolutely worth reading with an open mind, especially if you have children or plan to have children.
For readers, some people on here aren't very observant. This is a MEMOIR, not a self-help book on how to raise children. I knew that it was a memoir before I read it, but I also read her interview in Oprah magazine. She doesn't want to insult Western cultures and our way of child rearing, but it is very interesting to see her side, how she was raised, and how she raised her children. Once again, it's a MEMOIR, and take it as that and leave it. Not everyone agrees how to raise their child, and parents dislike unsolicted advice on how to raise children (especially me, a mother of twins) because each child is different, and each experience is different (not everyone knows how to raise multiples). So, just because you are a 'child development' specialist or psychologist, doesn't mean you're an expert. I personally was very interested in the differences between each culture (in the Chinese culture, not everyone agrees with the author either) and the effects the parents had on their children. Take it or leave it, no one is telling you how to raise your child. I mostly disagreed with it, but I knew it was just a book, and it was nice when she learned a big lesson. Calm down.
It's about time someone spoke the truth about child rearing. My wife (Asian) and I (American) have followed a similar regime with our son, though somewhat less strict. He has turned out to be about as perfect as any parent could want. Everyone who meets him is impressed and asks us how we did it: now I have a guide to refer them to. Hopefully we can now send all the weak minded child psychologists, social workers, and spineless education administrators to the dust bin of history. Anyone can raise their child to be a star; Amy Chua shows the way.
This book reads like a very rough diary of someone who will probably need to write journals & talk to therapists for a few years before realizing the many disturbing behavioral patterns she engages in and why. It is not very cohesive and not well structured. When she writes about the pages and pages of tedious notes she writes to her daughter about various measures of music she is to practice and how precisely to do so, she seems very disturbed. However, when people tell her so again and again, including her Chinese mother who moved from China to the Philippines when she was 2 saying she shouldn't be so intrusive with her daughter, she simply says she does so because she is Chinese. It seems illogical. It reminds me of a description of a narcissist. It is a very odd book. Narcissism is not quintessential to Chinese culture. My Chinese friend & I (we are both Chinese) independently had very similar responses to this book though she articulated things I noticed & found perturbing & I pointed out others. It is very misleading the way the author refers to everything she does as Chinese even when people in the book point out that this explanation does not make sense, yet she persists in doing so. It is also very misleading regarding valuable techniques in working with children. The author comes across as knowing very little of value with regard to teaching music. Research, including scientific research, as well as books on various ways, pluses and minuses, and effective ways of fostering students' talent and teaching children are out there, but for some reason the author believes that she knows better. Also, the back cover says it is about "HOW TO" become a Tiger Mother, referring to a Chinese mom so I am confused why the author & reviewers repeatedly pronounce there is no how to dimension to this book. The opening also reads very much like a how to--in language even more on the nose of how you'd perceive a cliche 'how to' to read than a well written how to. Overall, an odd book that made me feel sympathy for the author & her daughters & wonder why this didn't stay a very rough, private diary & if she will ever be open to listening to the many people who tell her, including in the book, that she contradicts herself & lacks enough self-awareness to participate in more healthy, positive behavioral patterns & to truly allow her children to grow & to grow herself.
Chua handled this controversial material very well. She admitted that although she felt raising kids the Chinese way would have huge benefits, she was realizing the drawbacks. I found it fascinating as well as challenging to my way of parenting. I am definitely a Western mother. I happen to have a child who plays violin. She hates to practice and I find myself wanting to give up constantly. I think taking a bit of the Chinese way and letting it influence mine is not a bad thing. Um...but no yelling. Gives me a headache.
I originally did not intend to read this book, feeling it was not worth the effort but after reading some reviews and Amy Chua's appearance on the Colbert Report I was compelled to read it. It was unreasonably short and discombobulated, the chapters and even the paragraphs jumping from one moment to another two, three, even ten years ahead or behind, but it was still a decent read that I implore parents of all walks to read. While you may be sitting there, eyebrows raised and asking yourself "how can a mother do that?" there are many things that can be taken away from this book. Values that all people should instill in their children, ideals that should be taken with a grain of salt, and several "how to make your child resent you" moments that you should be careful to avoid. To start, Amy Chua begins that she originally had intended this book to show how "Chinese" parenting is somehow superior, but was eventually "humbled" by her rebellious thirteen year old Louisa, whom was affectionately referred to as Lulu, in a restaurant in Russia after an argument over caviar. After Chua called her daughter a "barbarian", "savage", and some other harsh words, Lulu lashed out and gave her mother her opinion of her. Now I could make this a long, winded, and completely unneeded opinion drop of my views of her parenting, but as I said - it is unneeded. This is simply a memoir of one woman's plight to raise her daughters, as well as the woman's identity crisis and inability to distinguish herself, a Chinese-American, from her parents Immigrated Chinese-Americans. That is not to say I did not learn something from Chua and her memoir, I have learned that of course parents are not as perfect as they try so hard to be. I have learned that, should I ever chose to have kids, I want to instill the sort of excellence and togetherness Amy and Jed tried to instill in Sophia and Lulu. I also want to do something that Amy failed to do, instill a sense of passion and willingness to learn that she had to force upon her daughters. In short, this is definitely not a parenting book, it was originally intended to be (according to Chua's own opening paragraph "this is supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones. "But instead, it's about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how I was humbled by a thirteen-year-old.") but after the fateful event of Russian Caviar (this story having been written the day after said event), Chua reexamined her life, her parenting of her youngest daughter, and how she realized she isn't always right but sometimes forcing your children to do something they don't want to do (the violin, in this case) can bring a positive effect into a child's life. Just don't take it too far and you will toe the line between "gratitude" and "resentment".
I read this book trying to gain some understanding/insights on "tiger mom" parenting as clearly (based on worldwide results) there is something to setting high expectations and discipline in child-rearing that works. Unfortunately, I walked away concluding that Amy Chua must simply have a great PR agency working on her behalf. This book has received an enormous amount of attention - both good and bad, but it does not deserve it. Of the 199 pages, at least 40% are filler. Do we really want to know about her dog? The book feels like a disjointed combination of a personal journal (as if a therapist recommended "write it down, you'll feel better") and Chua trying to make a point that a non-western approach to raising a child can make a difference. A topic such as this would have been better tackled in a non-fiction approach with Chua developing an argument/theory for the tiger mom parenting approach, supporting it with research facts and then including her personal antidotes to add a human element - Malcolm Gladwell has figured our this writing style brilliantly - this book just feel amateurish.
Chua's book was a very easy and quick read that provided my 'Western' view of parenting with a very different point of view, which I always appreciate. I decided to read the book because of all the controversial press it has been getting. I found the book very well rounded, I thought that Chua fairly depicted her success and her biggest failures. The book was based on opinions and largely not backed by research; it was a window into another mother's life. 'Western' mothers of the world - do not be defensive to other points of view. Be open-minded, like you teach your children to be. If you are feeling defensive you should read Chua's book again and try to pin point what is making you feel defensive and evaluate what you think of your parenting style in that area. Learn and grow and allow yourself to change and adapt as life sees fit, but don't lynch another mother who is simply sharing her personal story with you. Chua doesn't even go as far to say that one way (Chinese vs. Western parenting) is right or wrong, so there is very little to take offense from. Just because she has different points of view don't lynch her or we will be back at the Salem witch trials for heaven sakes.
i am rereading it and again it is making me laugh laugh laugh. i can totally relate. if people think that children just evolve into these highly enlightened,intelligent charming beings chances are they have below to average children! the author is honest and funny in weighing her choices in child rearing. it's thoughtful on the differences in eastern/western thinking.... i think it's a great read. i loved it!
I am sure Amy had the best intention in her mind. However, I felt so sad for her kids and was glad that Lulu rose up against her. I hope they have a happy ending.
Obnoxious author spends page after page bragging about herself & her familly. Theres no meat on the bone, no plot. Its tedious, just like reading someone's journal. I've tried a few times to get into it & every time I'm repelled for the same reasons.
Wow. Informative, yes, and an easy read but insulting from beginning to end. I kept hoping Amy would get around to admitting maybe Western parents do something right, but she didn't. Somehow I've managed to raise 4 emotionally healthy, successful, educated and creative kids the "Western" way, through love, guidance, faith and individuality. There is so much more to being a "good" parent than degrees and First Place ribbons! Indeed, there's a good life lesson in those Second and Third place ribbons. Intense, annoying and disappointing read.
Maybe we should all take a page out of this book and we wouldn't have so many spoiled children in this country...My own included. Remember, it is very hard and it takes a lot of work each day to take the time to discipline your children. Spoiling your children and letting things go is the easy way out.
I read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother not because I was curious about the `tiger mom¿ methodology (I¿m largely familiar with it), but instead wanted to know how far (=intensity) she would push and when does it break. Overall, I found the book relatively soulless, not due to the subject at hand, but for the mundane telling of the story. Is this possible? Between all the screaming and yelling, the colorfully translated name calling, the interim reconciliations, and the final meltdown, could it still be soulless? I say yes. The daughters were hers to own, to `teach¿, to manipulate (my word), and to push down paths that she believed to be for their best. The author wrote this book entirely from her perspective ¿ purposely. The husband¿s views are left off; she stated, ¿that would be his book to write¿. While her husband, and both daughters, Sophia and Lulu, gave final approval of the contents, not enough of their thoughts and views were included (in fact, none from the husband). This book was thusly ¿ lopsided.The full title of this book ended with ¿¿, and how I was humbled by a thirteen-year-old¿. I didn¿t believe for a second that she was humbled. Defeated ¿ yes. Humiliated ¿ yes. Humbled ¿ no. While I don¿t believe a book review should directly judge contents to be true or false, I will point out two aspects: The first ¿ when Lulu was finally allowed to choose her own path, she exceled over time. As much as the author was proud (and surprised) of her daughter¿s new found success, the author failed to recognize and specifically notate what she really taught her daughters ¿ discipline, structured learning, and hard work are needed to succeed with anything in life.The second ¿ the giant celebratory party that she threw for Sophia after Sophia¿s performance, bussing in friends, jumbo shrimp charged by the piece. Is the author proud of her daughter? Or is it her own pride at stake? It¿s often a thin line between the two. In the end, this book feels as though it¿s written to grab attention for the author vs. the desire to tell a rich, meaningful story. Again ¿ pride?
Amy Chua has written a very funny and interesting book about parenting. Last summer this book was very controversial and it generated a lot of interesting discussions in the media and among our friends. However, I was surprised at the tone and humor of the book once I actually sat down and read it. It's hilarious and clearly Amy Chua is being very honest and self critical as she describes the trials and tribulations of raising her two daughters. On a philosophical level, I have to admit, she makes a lot of really strong points on the "western" concept of parenting vs. the "Chinese" version. She makes the necessary disclaimers against generalizations and on a whole is a very articulate writer. Her basic argument is that parenting is more successful at producing high achieving children if one pushes their child towards success by constantly challenging and criticizing them. This includes heavy discipline, scolding, deliberate humiliation, constant practice and lessons. Here are some basic tenets of the "Chinese" parenting model: Nothing great was ever achieved by laziness and lack of hard work. Kids do not want to practice 6 hours a day to master the violin, but if you keep at it, they will eventually appreciate it, even though they will hate you throughout their entire childhood. Children should never question authority and look for easy outs to difficult problems, that only encourages provincialism and barbarity. A certain part of me agrees with this, but my problem is that "Western" parenting just isn't hardcore enough to live up to the amount of the work it takes, nor do I like the idea of my child hating me for his entire childhood. Does the "Chinese" method produce results? The studies seem to suggest so, particularly in music. Amy Chua's kids also seem to be prodigies, which is anecdotal, but for her all she had to do was bare down as a parent and put in the work. But as Amy Chua points out, this can come at a great cost and the method is not always successful. This is why I don't think I could hack it as a "Tiger" parent. I am too inoculated with the ideals of Western parenting that Amy Chua blames for the U.S. cultural decline: individual choice, freedom of exploration, not wanting to "hurt the feelings" of children. I sympathize with outlook. I work with college students everyday and I often catch myself shaking my head in disgust at some of the attitudes these kids have upon arrival at school. I too want my child to be smart, happy, successful in life, and respectful. At the same time though, I also want him to experience things like sleep overs, building forts, playing video games, reading for fun, being active outside, and having a strong circle of close friends. If those things are a "waste of time" and will detract from his chances of becoming a child music prodigy, than I am OK with that. In conclusion, I see why many parents find Amy Chua's parenting style repulsive, but I say she's the mom and it's hard to argue with her results. I'm not sure if I buy her conflicted argument from altruism (I'm not sure she buys it either), but I do respect her for putting in the work, even if it may be a bit selfish. If anything, the book is a great read, even if I don't agree with everything. I will be thinking about many of her main points for a while.
Wow. I wish I could be that kind of mother, but I am not a very good disciplinarian. I keep my kids alive and that's about all that can be said for me. Chua, on the other hand, makes her girls practice their instruments several hours a day, badmouths them to their faces, and never lets them go to sleepovers. The book is well-written and keeps your attention in a straight-forward way. It's definitely a memoir, as opposed to an instruction manual.
"Chinese mothering" vrs "western mothering" is discussed from this mother's point of view. Scary, funny, and thought provoking, I enjoyed listening to this book. She must have loads of domestic help.....
The author of this memoir is a Chinese-American law professor raising two musically-gifted children. The author commands attention from the start with her fast-pace, outspoken, no-nonsense approach to motherhood. She is scrupulous in the administration of her daughters routines. Her children achieves phenomenal success and are recognized and groomed by maestros. There are some funny moments - when tiger mum's zeal is challenged by family members she rebounds with counter-tactics to have it her way. When her child comes of age and acts in defiance, tiger mum appears to have met her match. (It may be that she has lost the battle, but the tiger is out to win the war -- hence the name of the book?) But if there was a conclusion, I think I missed it. There is no last words of wisdom, insight; the tiger is unapologetic; and blaming mom for her own competitive, controlling streak was rather cliche. I agree with some reviews that there's hardly much that's typically Chinese about this memoir. But by marketing the book on Chinese mother vs Western mother, the professor has set the grounds for discourse on stereotyping roles, methods of upbringing, and emotional-psychological wellbeing.
Every parent should read this. We have so much to learn from Chinese parenting. The culture of narcism is rampant in the west, we don't have to get kids playing piano for 5 hours a day, but we have to teach them the life lessons in hard work and what it can do for you, life doesn't owe you anything!
This book is much misunderstood, as many have missed the self-parody and self-examination and have taken it to be some sort of child-rearing manual. Viewed in the correct light, it is an entertaining and engaging account of cultural adaptation and self-discovery.
If you have even a marginal interest in what books are generating conversation both inside and outside the publishing world, you've likely heard of Chua's controversial parenting memoir. People are outraged that she touts the strict "Chinese" parenting model, denigrates the much more laissez-faire "Western" parenting model, and holds her own very successful children up as proof that her conclusions and techniques are the "right" ones. This whole hue and cry made me incredibly interested in reading the book. And I am forced to come to the conclusion that some of the loudest voices of dissent can't possibly have read the same book I did. Certainly Chua stands by her parenting techniques but she isn't afraid to show her failures and the way in which she second guesses herself for not tailoring her parenting to better fit each of her daughters.Chua is a high-achieving law professor at Yale. She is also a second generation Chinese-American who was herself pushed to excel as a child. As a parent, she makes the conscious decision to raise her children in accordance with the strict, demanding, and frequently unbending manner in which she was raised. And she attributes much of their exceptional academic and musical success to her insistence on routine, complete and expected obedience, and hours of repetitious drill. She holds her children to almost impossible standards and trusts that they are strong enough to hear about it when they have not met these lofty expectations. She compares what she sees as a "Western" laxity with her regimented "Chinese" methods and certainly the parenting method she didn't choose herself does come off poorly in some cases.But Chua does have some legitimate points about the pervading culture which deems mere proficieny to be good enough instead of demanding exellence. Chua's insistence on her children spending hours practicing their instruments in order to be pre-eminent may strike people as excessive but how many parents of any stripe have spent hours standing over their children fighting the homework battle? Or have driven a child to a practice when said child whines that s/he doesn't want to go today? Or chosen a sport or an instrument for the child rather than allowing him/her a choice? Or pushed tutoring on a child? And the list goes on and on. Most of us have shades of a Tiger Mother in us. We might choose different battles and different instances in which to push our children, but we do fight those battles.The memoir chronicles Chua's successes and failures and the high cost of both, with one daughter suited to her brutally honest, highly expectant parenting style and the other much less so. It is slightly disingenuous for Chua to claim her children's musical prodigality and academic successes result from her parenting given the girls' genetic inheritance. Both Chua and husband Jed are very intelligent, highly successful individuals and musical talent runs in Jed's family. So Chua has not been working all these years with children incapable of rising to her exacting standards. And that, perhaps is one of the biggest lessons of Chua's book: don't allow a highly-capable child to settle for mediocrity. High standards are not a bad thing. Giving trophies for participation regardless of effort is. Practice, onerous and tedious though it may be, is still the best way to get ahead.This is an incredibly quick read and Chua pulls no punches on her behaviour as a mother but this isn't the mea culpa confessional sort of memoir we've come to expect. It does not have an apologetic tone and perhaps that is where some of the public excoriation comes in. But just as I stand by my own brand of parenting (certainly a mixture of laissez-faire and impossible standards), Chua stands by her own, mistakes and all. She says in the final chapter that her husband and both daughters read the book, making suggestions and registering their concerns so she has tried to balance her memories with theirs as best as possible. On occa
I found Amy Chua's memoir of raising her two daughters the "Chinese" way very interesting. As a teacher, I've seen the many drawbacks to the "Western" way of raising children so a lot of what Chua says makes sense. I definitely don't agree with absolutely everything that she did in raising her children, however. The focus of the book is on the musical training she enforces with both daughters and I would have liked to have read more about other aspects of their lives - I think it would have make the overall book more balanced.
Where I got the book: from the library.Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is Amy Chua's much touted (I could say notorious) memoir of how she raised her two daughters to become academic high achievers and musical prodigies using Chinese methods. Chua states up front that her sweeping assessments of the relative virtues of "Chinese parents" and "Western parents" are just that, very broad opinions, and that Chinese-style parenting can be found in many non-Asian homes, typically where the parents are first-generation immigrants.Having a kid who spent much of middle school in gifted classes where the Chinese kids outnumbered the rest, I can confirm anecdotally that much of what Chua covers in her book conforms to the normal practices of Chinese parents. An extremely limited social life, "always programs" as one mother proudly told me, Chinese school at the weekend, hours of homework and extra drills were the norm; a grade below an A was unacceptable. My child hid her very first D from me because in her Chinese friends' world, a D meant a total parental meltdown and probably solitary confinement till the age of 25. When my kid grew away from her friends in high school she plunged joyfully into the Western model of underperformance, only to rediscover achievement all by herself in her senior year. She now tells me that I should have been more of a Tiger Mother and that she's going to raise her kids the Chinese way.But enough about me! I really enjoyed Chua's book. I agreed with quite a few of her criticisms of Western parenting as selfish (she is particularly critical of mothers who neglect their children's education so that they can pursue interests of their own) and lazy (Chinese mothers are willing to invest every spare minute in their children's development, etc.) And she attacks the scary spectacle of self-esteem, which is producing impossible children unable to deal with authority. Believe me, I know. Sorry, me again.I was interested in Chua's own overachiever, type A+++++ personality; she cheerfully admits to her tendency to spread tension over every family gathering and her inability to enjoy herself. Toward the end of the memoir she does come over as a bit more human, and begins to concede that Chinese parenting does not always work (it was not successful for her father, and only partially worked with her youngest daughter) and that some Western ideas, such as pursuing your own passions rather than your parents', have some sense in them.Still, when you consider how limited our Western aspirations are for our children (most of us just want them to be happy and to have monstrous self-esteem like my kids SORRY) compared to those of Chinese parents, who see Yale, Harvard, Nobel prizes and Olympic medals in their children's future, you may pause for a moment. The Chinese parents I've met began saving for college when their children were foetuses, and investigating Ivy League institutions when their kids were in 7th grade. So now I don't feel so horrible after all for insisting that we start homework straight after school AND WE SIT AT THE TABLE TILL IT'S DONE (that lasted until high school, when I lost control).I'm struck by how much this book made me reflect on my own parenting successes and failures, as illustrated by the way I keep interrupting this review with news about me. Battle Hymn was very nicely written, lively, and easy to read. I rather hope that some of Chua's ideas catch on.
This a short read that is unlikely to change anyone's mind about their parenting style. I picked this book up after reading about it in Entertainment Weekly. I have a high achieving child so I was interested in reading exactly how different the Chinese method is from my own ideas. Amy Chua is out there. She puts her family through a punishing routine to exact results up to her standards. She admits she is willing to go to any lengths as long as they are legal. I don't know how her husband could stand by while some of this was going on. Her will is iron clad but even she is severely tested with her second daughter Lu Lu. I love that girl. I thought it was especially clever of her to enlist the public at larges help in her battle with her mother knowing that average people would find her mother too extreme. Lu Lu can dish it out just as hard as she gets it. Amy knows that she is saying inappropriate things to her daughters, for example that she will burn their stuffed animals if the music practice isn't perfect, but she just doesn't seem to care. At the end of the day all that matters is that she has people who will tell her how wonderful they think her daughters are. Who cares what these people think? Amy Chua seems really impressed by who she thinks is a celebrity and does a lot of name dropping in the book. The part where she disses her daughters homemade birthday cards was very sad. She was in a sour mood because her husband chose a sub par restaurant for her birthday. Shame on him. Another what should have been happy occasion ruined by not meeting Amy's expectations. Her daughters are still young, I look forward to reading their thoughts on their mother in the future. As a final note I would like to point out that her husband who was raised by much more permissive parents who encouraged free will was offered a job as a Yale professor which was the same job Amy initially wanted but was turned down for. I don't think there is anything wrong with pushing your child to achieve their best but somewhere along the line Amy Chua's efforts turned concerning.
I had mixed feelings about this book. Before I read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I had read several pieces about the book. I opened it prepared for moral outrage and derision of Chua's simplistic, autocratic parenting style. There was a bit of that, to be sure, but in reality the "Tiger Mother" is much more complex and likeable. Her sometimes unfair comparisons of Chinese and Western parenting aside, much of her parenting style makes sense if following her somewhat twisted logic. Given her goal of extremely high achievements for her daughters, her parenting techniques get her what she wants, to an extent.I'd love to hear a follow-up from her two daughters as they get older and move away from Chua's strong influence. She claims both are fairly well adjusted and not overly resentful, at least now that she has modified her approach to her younger daughter, Lulu.