Friday, 17 February 2012

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother - Book Review

Although I'd heard of the expression 'Tiger Mother' I didn't know much about the book that it came from. I somehow had missed the huge controversial debate that happened after it's release.

'Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother' by Amy Chua is, in her own words....
'a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs. This was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones. But instead, it's about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how I was humbled by a thirteen-year-old'


Amy, is Chinese - American, raised in the traditional strict Chinese way by her parents who immigrated to the USA before her birth.  She chose to raise her two girls in the same way despite the extra difficulties of doing it in a country where it was considered unusual at best and at worst cruel.

I deliberately didn't read anything online about the book before I received it, as I wanted to make up my own mind about it. I enjoyed the book and I read it as I believe Amy Chua intended it to come across - a memoir and a comic one at that.  I didn't get the impression that she was telling the world that the Chinese parenting method was better and was surprised to read how she was completely attacked by the media (most of whom had probably not read the book themselves!) after it's release.

Although I'd never contemplate raising my children in such a strict manner - no playdates, no sleepovers,and up to 10 hours of study a day for example, I don't believe that makes her a bad Mother as such, everything she did was in her opinion for the benefit of her children (who now as young adults have said they are pleased they were raised as they were) and in the same way that millions of children have been raised for years.

This is one of the most interesting books I've read in a long time and I found it fascinating as she explained the reasons behind the Chinese parenting method and think there are some good points in it - just as Western parenting has many pluses and minuses. Raising children is not an easy thing to do, no one parent will ever do it the same way and there is no 'right method' and I think the following quote from the book is a good example of that fact.


Western parents try to respect their children's individuality, encouraging them to pursue their passions, support their choices and provide positive reinforcement and a nurturing environment.  By contrast the Chinese believe the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they are capable of and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no-one can ever take away. 

Put like that, maybe some Western children could do with a little bit of 'Tiger Mothering'!

I was sent this book for review by Bloomsbury Publishing, I was not told what to write and the opinions are my own.  


2 comments:

  1. Bibliofreak Blog25 April 2012 18:53

    I think a lot of the media frenzy around the book was pretty crazy - it's a person's opinion and even at that I didn't really buy a lot of it. On the other hand, the whole thing seemed to be courting controversy and so I guess Chua was more than pleased by the storm that surrounded the book.

    My review: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

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  2. I reviewed this recently, too. I enjoyed it immensely - she's a very good writer - and loved the insight into another culture. Like you, I wouldn't want to raise my children entirely this way, but I do think there are some things we can take from the Chinese method - for example, I find I'm too happy to say 'OK, never mind,' when there is any reluctance to do reading, spelling, etc. I'm not planning to go the whole hog and timetable hours of study a day, but I will be insisting on a bit more effort, because sometimes it just takes a few minutes more of trying for my daughter to remember that she enjoys reading and spelling and writing and learning... 

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