"Chinese parents can get away with things that Western parents can't". -Amy Chua

I knew this moment would come sooner or later and it definitely came sooner rather than later. The moment that I have to talk about a book that I didn't like and wouldn't recommend.  On our New Year's road trip, we listened to Chua's account of raising her children as a Chinese tiger mother. The book is much less parenting book and much more self-aggrandizing memoir. I'll admit that some of her descriptions are funny, but the entire book could have been summed up in a couple of chapters. 

As can be seen by the quote above, Chua makes sweeping generalizations about Chinese and Western parenting. Chua views herself as a "tiger mother" who makes her children practice piano for 2 hours each day whether they are on vacation in order to bring out what she views as the best in them. She rejects handmade birthday cards because they don't meet her standards, and threatens to burn their stuffed animals if the music doesn't sound like she thinks it should. 

Towards the end of the book, Chua concedes that her methods don't work as well with her younger daughter and admits that she may need to change her style to fit the needs of her child.  Despite her admission, she still maintains that her way of Chinese parenting is superior and I was left feeling dis-satisfied with her conclusions.  I'm curious if other people experienced the books differently than I did.  I picked it up because of all the hype surrounding it. 




01/13/2012 10:42

Interesting concept. I can't even bring myself to read this. My Chinese husband can confirm such practices. Although he didn't endure the burning of stuffed animals, he was tied to a chair to finish his homework. His family allowed him and his siblings to either pursue medicine or law in college. He loves his job now as an ER doc, but I'm sure it wasn't easy. He credits his family very much for making him try harder and insisting that he succeed. The cool thing about his family is their deep devotion to each other - the way they help everyone when they are sick or in need. It is very inspiring to see.

01/13/2012 15:36

It is definitely complicated, isn't it Jillian? I think that what I really had a hard time with in the book was the inflexibility of her stance on her children. Thanks for your comment!


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