Sunday, April 13, 2014

Book Review: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

This book is a hard one to review. Think Dance Moms for the Ivy League? Or Perhaps Honey Boo Boo.

The book was interesting in terms of the author's perspective on parenting and her stereotypical descriptions of Chinese parenting vs. Westerner parenting but in the end those are just stereotypes. She made a decision to parent her children in a way that modeled Chinese immigrants although she was born in the United States and is far from living the life of a poor immigrant that she romanticizes in this book. This woman that speaks about that generation being so frugal has no qualms about spending exorbitant amounts of money on vacations and entertaining that I cannot even begin to fathom. At one point she uses the vacation budget to prepare a lavish party to celebrate her daughter's performance at Carnegie Hall which seems to contradict so much of what she is trying to preach in this book.

There is no doubt that her two daughters' successes are related to her pushing them but I have to wonder at what cost. I am shocked that this author would have documented and published some of her interactions with her children. There is no balance. While most of us would like to see our kids succeed and often challenge them to do their best, I don't know any mothers that would shame their children or call them names to do it. Amy Chau repeatedly states that this is the "Chinese Way" and expects better than the best for her children that has to go beyond a cultural convention. An A is not good enough, one has to be the best in everything in her world and I can't imagine that motivation is selfless but more about how it reflects on the author. Her daughters' practice regimes go beyond anything normal, skipping sightseeing on vacation to foreign lands, not eating dinner, performing when ill. It made me very angry for these girls that she claims to love.

I can't help to lump this mother in the category of some of those reality TV shows that as a society we tend to gravitate to. . . is she really that different than Honey Boo Boo's mother or any of those other parents on Toddlers and Tiara's? Yes, maybe because while they often push their kids I can't recall any one of them (in the brief snippets I have seen) calling their kids "fat" or "stupid". This is just a higher class version.

I think I am not recommending this one. While it's well written and an honest self description of the author I can't help but cringe. 

No comments:

Post a Comment