Book Summary: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

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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Comments

  1. s says

    I also read the book because of the controversy and read for myself her own words and draw my own conclusions. I completely agree with what you said – the arrogance especially really came through to me strongly. I don’t think I would like this woman if she was a mom in our town, and not because of how she treated her kids, but how arrogant and selfish she seemed, how she focused on so many seemingly superficial things, but like any story, I suspect she left a LOT out, especially surrounding her husband and her marriage – seems a lot unspoken there. However, there were some good threads that I also took away – I do not push my kids enough – the music practice really struck me. My kids are not expected to practice for any excessive amount of time by their music teacher at school but I have even lower expectations and I regret I didn’t push them harder to live up to their commitment to their teacher of a mere 120 hours per week. I gave up hassling them, and I do regret that. For my younger children, if they do take up an instrument for school, I will enforce their commitment or they will need to give up that instrument. I also am not disciplined enough on homework – my kids are good students, but I back off when its a struggle vs just laying it on the line and saying this is the expectation. I do take the easy route, wanting them instead to have time to play outdoors, etc. Yet, I cannot imagine being as cruel or strict as she was – not even close.

  2. says

    Hi S, I’m a homeschool mama… so the discipline of practicing or working that much to achieve something resonates with me. What I want to achieve is this: to raise my son in a loving environment and yet teach him how to be disciplined and do his best for himself in anything he does. I too don’t see myself as being cruel or as strict as Ms. Chua. My goal now is to ASK MY SON what he wants to do/be and WORK TOGETHER by helping him achieve whatever his goal is through discipline, commitment and responsibility. He’s young – but I believe it is good to start with the small things and work towards bigger goals – by then I won’t need to be teaching him what discipline/commitment/responsibility is… hopefully! ;) I’ve only been a Mama for a handful of years and I love that there is a community for DELIBERATE MOTHERS… because that’s what I want to be. ;)

  3. PPO says

    I think hard work never killed anyone. If you want to excel, you must work hard, push yourself slowly but surely beyond your limit. This is the only way unless of course you have the God given innate talents that need not be honed with practice, but I would not depend my career or the life of my children on it.

  4. Sarah Turner says

    I loved this book! I thought it was a refreshing perspective…sometimes it IS taking the easy way out to not demand more work from our children…they can almost always do it…but listening to the griping/complaining is harder for us also. Kids are able to do MUCH more than we think than can.
    A great review!

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