Review: 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother' by Amy Chua -

Review: ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’ by Amy Chua

Chua explains how her extreme mothering got results


Amy Chua’s memoir gives society plenty to debate about raising kids. Chua chronicles her battle to rear two American daughters in the traditional Chinese method—that is, hard ass. She would be offended if we described her methodology as simply strict. She forbids play dates, sleepovers, sports, school plays, or grades below an A. The girls have two hours of Mandarin instruction every day, followed by math drills and hours of music practice.

“What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work…,” (Page 29) explains Chua, who was born and raised in America by Chinese parents of the same ilk. Addressing her own generalizations, she notes that “Chinese mother” is shorthand for any parents (usually first or second-generation immigrants) who don’t want to raise shiftless, entitled kids. Her mission leaves her lonely and exhausted, since she teaches a full course load at Yale Law School.

The book is peppered with funny, self- excoriating scenes of Chua’s extreme mothering. Chua acknowledges she has had doubts, but she never goes so far as to denounce Chinese parenting. “The results speak for themselves,” she says a few times. Her oldest daughter Sophia played piano at Carnegie Hall, while Lulu won a prodigy award for playing the violin. When Lulu finally breaks rank, the rebellion is a satisfying, American-style tantrum. Full sympathy goes to Jed, the Jewish husband, who tries to dial down his wife’s intensity.

By heaping scorn on Western parenting, Chua will raise ire and polarize readers. At her most pointed, Chua says, “Western parents?.?.?.?try to persuade themselves that they’re not disappointed about how their kids turned out” (page 50). In reaction, some readers will call her a heartless drill sergeant. Others will want her to raise their kids. Another spiteful group will delight in predicting Lulu’s final rebellion—perhaps heroine-addled prostitute? That’s highly unlikely, but if it happens, I can’t think of a better rehab warden than Chua. The smart money’s on Tiger Mother.


Review: ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’ by Amy Chua

  1. I only heard about this book today, ands reading an excerpt from it filled me with such sadness and such weariness.

    All of that achievement means nothing if it comes at the price of happiness and fulfillment. To have one's passions dictated at the whim of another, to be denied any say in the life that one will pursue, must be a very awful thing.

    I'm happy that the younger daughter finally put her foot down.

  2. Shouldn't Jed get some credit for raising his children?__Didn't he have any input? Didn't he guide and direct his __children too? Where was he the wole time Amy was acting__as drill seargent?__

  3. Ms Chua has shaped her offsprings to excel in the recital halls and academe. Could they compose, or excel in the savage real world? Only time will tell.

    Ms Chua seem to enjoy today's bragging rights. Jed is the silent partner.

    • That is the real world

  4. I'm not finished it yet but I love the book! I think this woman is hilarious. She is obviously pokig fun at how maniacal she is! I also happen to agree with her that westerners coddle our kids a bit too much. It's a tough, tough world out there and they better be ready to compete.
    Probably the most important lesson to take from this book is: These are the kids that our kids are going to be competing against in 10 years. And LOTS of em! Better prepare them or god help us!

    • I remember a story a psychiatrist told me about a very successful young person who broke a limb and lost his ability to compete in his chosen sport. The boy was very depressed. The psychiatrist reminded him that success is measured in many different ways by different people, depending on your culture or your financial circumstances. However, if we all get to the basics of it, we find that everyone in the world agrees that a successful day is one in which we have a roof over our head, food in our bellies and our families around us. Perhaps we need to teach our children to feel blessed with the simple things and not to feel that they need to compete and never feel satisfied with their accomplishments.

  5. And I thought I was a disciplinarian! But, while I've instilled in my kids a healthy Protestant work ethic, Ms. Chua just flat-out robbed her kids of a childhood.

    • Im sure that her kids think differently. Though she is very strict on her kids, her kids ultimately do benefit from this. They are the best in music and school and their futures as doctors and lawyers will speak for themselves.

  6. So many of you worry that Chua's girls have been denied any happiness and will grow up hating their childhood. Yet, as a child of a tiger mom myself, I can attest that although we grow up in a strict environment, nonetheless we get so much love and attention from our parents. Interestingly, these children are the ones that preserve family unity and respect. The ones who got to have freedom as a child are usually ones who are disrespectful and will send their doting parents to nursing homes.

    • You are right. The ones who got to have freedom as a child are usually ones who are disrespectful and will send their doting parents to nursing homes. Parents and children usually do not have close enough relationship. One day somebody told me that if she teenager girl always make her room messy, she would tell her " this house is my, if you continue to do so, I will let you out of the house!", I did not say anything. no wander why!!!. I will not do what She told. I rather let teenager clean up her room before dinner. The house belongs to FAMILY, a warm place for children to grow up with good education- parents have to make their effort to lift offspring up. (Teachers might agree with me)

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