Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tiger Mother; A Book Review

There has been a lot of talk surrounding the book Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother by Amy Chua.  The book exposes the clash between eastern and western parenting philosophy.  We all are aware of the stereotypical successful eastern child being musically gifted and at the top of their class.  What is it about eastern child rearing that produces high achieving children? Well,  I too caught up in the buzz and had to get my hands on the book. 
At first, I found the author's parenting well intentioned. Honestly, what parent wouldn't want their children to excel academically?  Pushing children to do their best should be applauded, right?  However, we must look at the cost, the methods, and the whole child.
Let me explain...Amy's people pleasing daughter Sophia meets her mother's demands.  She performs flawlessly in school and masters the piano. There is no television watching, play dates, computer games, or time for sports. Earning any grade less than an A is not tolerated as it would put shame on the family. Amy's eldest daughter follows her mother's instructions without a complaint. Sophia spends endless hours and attention on academics and practice with her mother at her side every step of the way. 
On the other hand, daughter Lulu, puts up resistance to her mother's demands. While Lulu also performs well, she resents not having the freedom to be like others.  She doesn't want to play piano.  Amy squelches any joy Lulu may have had playing the violin (her second instrument) with criticism.  Practicing her instrument hours on end becomes a battle of wills leading to multiple explosive events! (you'll have to read the book)
Even though both daughters enjoy tremendous success, Amy's (Chinese) parenting style is objectionable from my point of view. She openly admits to screaming matches, tears, and putting extreme amounts of pressure on her daughters.  What disturbed me most is that her husband does little to nothing to stop the overbearing intense pressure cooker environment that Amy creates.
I am relatively new to parenting, (my oldest is just three and a half) but count me out as a Tiger Mother.