I’m sure every mother could write a book on parenting. Every mother is different. Amy Chua may have had a crazy strict parenting style, but she has beautiful daughters who love her to show for it. And actually, it’s not like she hasn’t had to adjust along the way. This is what Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is all about. This book is pretty controversial because it is a direct criticism of other parenting skills mixed within Chua’s story of bringing up her daughters. Most of their story revolves around music and music training. Chua never claims to be perfect and with her second daughter struggles by competing in huge standoffs with few positive endings. But her daughters are poised, trained musicians, and achieving students. And in the end, Chua is adjusting to a new outlook. She’s not done raising her daughters. I mean, does it ever end?
I’ll tell you I was skeptical of this book. Being raised in an Bengali-Filipino household, my sister and I were held to high standards and we always sought to achieve them. I was drilled in geography and math, and always read at a higher level than my actual grade. But it’s true that the “Western” style of parenting is very different, and within my classroom, I could see where my upbringing was different. My parents were pretty lenient as far as Asian parents go. We played, we watched TV, and we weren’t forced into piano. Actually, my mom tried to force me to play piano every six months or so for four years. I had a new teacher each time, and I would get to a certain point, and my fingers and brain would hit a wall, and I wouldn’t go on. That was my stubbornness, and my mom’s disgrace. I stink at piano. I decided at nine years old that I wanted to stop. And by then, my little sister was actually pretty good. But I think she might have stopped because I did. My bad.
I thank my parents for setting a high standard for me. Maybe I haven’t done exactly what they wanted me to do, but they have instilled in me a work ethic, a respect for elders, and a sense of pride in my heritage. Once, one of my bosses told me that she wanted to speak to my mother to tell her how she had done such a good job raising me. And I was mentally grabbing for my phone. I told my mom later, and I could tell she was proud.
A lot of people will disagree with Chua’s parenting style. I wasn’t raised just like Chua’s daughters, but I can understand the difficulties my parents faced and how much they had to adjust after reading this book. It was an easy read, by the way. Chua is an honest story-teller, and the story flows easily on the page. It took me one day to read this book. And it has made me question what path I will take when I raise my family. You may think it’s too harsh and possibly insane, but I can’t think of any parenting style that is perfect. Chua’s is just one more way to go in the several ways to parent a healthy, happy child.