A memoir, written by a Yale law professor of Chinese descent, is causing uproar amongst parents all over the country. “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom”, is Amy Chua’s account of raising her two daughters. This book is being called a “parenting” guide but it is actually a memoir of an obsessive mother who shared her stories of how she demanded perfection, not just with her two young daughters but with her husband as well.
She leads one to believe that Chinese mothers are stricter than “Western” mothers are, but in truth, Amy Chua is a woman who is of Chinese descent but was raised in the Midwest. How Chinese is she really?
We have our stereotypes and pre-judgments about mothers and parenting styles. Think of the Jewish mother, typically controlling and meddling.
Amy Chua’s confessions about how she demanded perfection from her young daughters when one might argue that they were not able to live up to her unrealistic expectations, paints a picture of a woman that has some serious personal issues.
The question is why are we giving this woman’s book so much notice?
She went to Yale and is a law professor. The fact is that she has written a book meant as a memoir that has somehow been misrepresented as a parenting guide. Call it the media trying to create controversy where there shouldn’t be but the misrepresentation of this book is getting people talking.
Many parents today can be accused of being too soft about issues such as discipline and self-responsibility. Many younger parents have focused more on building their child’s self-esteem by ways of catering to their every whim instead of teaching self-discipline.
The harsh discipline that Amy Chua describes in her book does border on being an abusive parent. Amy Chua’s idea of parenting should not be a guide for any parent. Maybe it should be a guide for what not to do.
This book raises the debate about how Chinese children excel in areas where American children have steadily been declining in. Does the Chinese “Tiger” Mom’s demands on a child produce a more intelligent, success-focused child? Are American parents too busy shielding their children from the harshness of the world that we are raising overly sensitive children with no focus?
Parenting is not an easy task. Every parent tries to take the good from what their parents did in raising them and do their best to not emulate the negative things that their parents did. Sometimes, because of how you were raised, you do not know any better and unconsciously you often become your parent, much to your own horror.
What is the “right” way to raise a child? The answers to that question have been debated forever and probably will continue for a long time to come.
The best parenting “guide” I have ever seen is actually a poem that was written by Dorothy Law Nolte in 1954. If a parent can learn how to use “Children learn” as a guide to parenting, along with using their own instincts, they should feel that they are doing a good job in raising a child to become a good human being.
There is a balance that parents need to find between enforcing discipline without breaking a child’s spirit. Amy Chua has admitted that she has made parenting mistakes and the way the book has been portrayed gives a false impression that all Amy Chua’s parenting is about control and harsh rejection of her children’s efforts to live up with her expectations of them. If anyone actually reads the entire book and not just the pieces taken out of context, they might see it for what it was meant to be. One mother’s honest story about how her parenting skills were influenced by her own upbringing and how she does admit she doesn’t know it all.