Thursday, June 30, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

by Amy Chua (not only does she have a fantastic first name, but there are a lot of Amys referenced in this book, also)

okayihavetorefrenencethisbooksomewherebecauseit'sprettycoolsoyeah,thisisanotherbookreview,but deal,okay?

Alright, 230-ish pages, and it took me around 24 hours to read. I mean, this one reads fast. It's not like all I did was read for one whole day. Nope, just for a while at night and then during nap time. Quick quick quick.

What I most especially love about this one is that the author *completely* talks about what worked and failed, and frankly, focuses on failing quite a bit more than succeeding with "Chinese parenting." If you haven't heard of this one, it gained a lot of press when it was published a few months ago because the idea of Chinese parenting can be (in my opinion) misconstrued as barbaric by Western parenting models, which is the #1 focus of the text. Chua addresses differences between Chinese & Western parenting models, as well as admitting how she grossly stereotypes with this terminology, consistently throughout the text.

There's a part of me that is very much like "Rock on, you've got something working here!" with what she talks about. But really, the greatest part of me is more "C'mon, we need to compromise here between what you're generalizing." Truly, I see us as being (or wanting to be) somewhere smack in the middle of the two. I'm not big on sleepovers and accepting mediocrity (which she bashes), but I do see the validity of playdates and allowing your kid to have some say-so in what activities they'd like to participate in (which she also bashes). But then again, my kid(s) will learn how to play an instrument and have definite academic standards set for them (which she acknowledges as givens). It's an interesting ad refreshing perspective on parenting, and one that I frankly admire a lot because of what I understand as motivating factors. It's not that I admire the tactics necessarily employed, but I really admire the deep, intense desire to prepare your child to succeed and perform well.

Chua is funny, insightful and frank. And, she is really quite gifted at just telling a story. She's a Harvard educated lawyer who married another Harvard educated lawyer, both of whom now teach at Yale. In other words, she's a smart cookie. Okay, I'm also jealous of her but in some small, niggling way that means I would never seriously consider exchanging my life for hers, knowing what kind of life an academic (especially at that caliber) truly leads. It's intense. Really, really (really) intense.

And Chua, I like how you ended the book; the coda is truly a fitting way to end and honest to the rest of the book.

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