Book Review: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
The other day, I tweeted about how I never attended sleepovers in my friends’ houses while growing up just because my mom never agreed to them. Someone responded that I must have had a miserable childhood. This just reflects how judgmental people can be when it relates to parenting techniques.
The book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a memoir that examines this issue through the parenting strategies adopted by the author, Amy Chua. She compares the Chinese model of parenting which has been condemned by many as harsh with the western style of parenting. In her words, “Asian mothers have been portrayed as scheming, callous, overdriven people indifferent to their kids’ true interests.” Notwithstanding, a lot of Asian Kids have turned out to be prodigies and whizzes in various fields. I can’t help but wonder if this might be the the reason why they excel better than their contemporaries.
Amy, a Chinese Mom, addresses the two models of parenting using her personal experience with her children, Sophia and Lulu. She believes that children raised with the Chinese parenting style have better self esteem than those raised with the western method. By constantly pushing them hard, they start to believe that they are capable of doing anything. They are made to work twice harder than other children. For instance, she made her daughters practice the violin and piano relentlessly everyday even when they didn’t want to. She doesn’t indulge in bribery but uses coercion. While western parents cave in quickly out of guilt when their children give up, the Chinese model doesn’t believe in failure and excuses . Her daughters turn out to straight A students and music whizzes. However, her second daughter, Lulu eventually rebels leaving readers to ponder on the subsequent effect of the Chinese parenting technique on the children’s psyche.
The book is shockingly honest and detailed. I must confess that I felt Amy might have been too harsh on the children. For instance, I was horrified when she called Lulu a garbage. Sometimes, she comes across as a brutal mom hounding her children to achieve her own dreams.
There are also lot of similarity between Amy and the African parents. One of such similarities is the use of subtle blackmail and threats. Every African child can attest to this. It is therefore safe to say that being a tiger mom is a state of the mind. In the end, the conclusion is that parents want to give the best to their children. Everyone just has a different idea of how to do this. Amy leaves us with a lot of questions unanswered at the end of her books.
Ratings: 3 🌟🌟🌟
Yejide Adewakun is a lawyer with extensive experience in corporate and commercial legal practice. She is also a serial entrepreneur as well as a sickle cell advocate with the Sickle Cell Aids Foundation. An ardent reader of books, she finds expression for her creativity by reviewing books on her social media handles @sophiebello.