Title: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Author: Amy Chua

Basic Overview:

Amy Chua’s memoir is about the inner and outer struggles of parenting her children the ‘Chinese’ way. After keeping up with the controversies surrounding her book, I was glad to actually read it first hand. It was all at once funny, refreshing, shocking, provocative, arrogant, self-effacing and really entertaining. A lot of people have been upset at her harsh parenting methods, but I don’t know if they’ve actually read her book because if they have, they would realize that Amy Chua is mocking herself and questioning herself throughout.

Parts I liked best:

I believe that I can learn from anyone, even if I don’t agree with them, particularly if they share their successes and failures in achieving something. Amy Chua does just that in her book as she recounts how she helped her children become great musicians. The lessons I learned include:

-PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Both of Chua’s children were not allowed a day off piano or violin practice and these practices lasted at least three hours a day. Three hours a day = 20 hours a week = 10,000 hours over ten years. But, according to Daniel Levitin’s book This is Your Brain on Music: Understanding A Human Obsession, the mastery required to be a world-class expert in music is 10,000 hours, and there is little evidence of anyone becoming so accomplished with less time spent practicing.

-PARENTS NEED TO BE PROACTIVE: Chua suggests that unlike dogs, children are not merely pets.  You can’t just let them BE.

-CHILDREN’S HAPPINESS IS RELATIVE: Chua said she has looked around at the Western families that have fallen apart, and can’t believe the Western-style of parenting does a better job creating happiness. She does, however, know many Asian kids who acknowledge that their parents were strict and demanding, but speak of them with loyalty and gratitude. She concludes that Western children are no happier than Chinese children.

-FOR A BETTER PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP, ALLOW CHILDREN TO MAKE THEIR OWN CHOICES: Chua concludes this is the one thing she didn’t give her children in the beginning and wishes she had. Once she let her rebellious child, Lulu, decide what she wanted to do, Lulu showed that she had the basis (after years of violin training) to excel at tennis.

How this book made an impact in my life, especially as a mother:

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reminded me all at once of own family. I come from a family of national athletes, academic achievers, published authors, award winners, shrewd businessmen and women. I may well be the least accomplished of them all, happy being a stay-at-home wife and mother. And yet, as I homeschool my four-year- old son, I am astounded by his innate Type A personality and high achieving qualities.  Maybe it’s in the genes. Whatever the reason, I may well need to be a little bit of a Tiger Mother to help him on his way.


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