Tiger Mother I Ain’t


Not only would a tiger mother never use the word “ain’t,” but I’m sure she would also never waste time philosophizing about her parenting/teaching style.  Which (fair warning) I am about to do.  I just finished reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua.  (So what happened to the Now Reading…thingie with a link to your book on Amazon?  Huh, xanga???)  It is quite a book.

I alternate between thinking, “That woman is so driven she’s insane,” which I think is true, to thinking, “I need a little more of that in me.” Also true. I am not one tiny bit like her, and I can’t quite decide whether to be depressed or thankful about that!


What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it.  To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences.  

…[Westerners] just keep repeating things like ‘You have to give your children the freedom to pursue their passion’ when it’s obvious that the ‘passion’ is just going to turn out to be Facebook for ten hours which is a total waste of time!

The trouble is that I read that last bit and think, well, she’s right about that!  Seems to be true with my teens anyway.  But then I look at her methods–forcing her girls to practice their instruments for six hours a day, never giving them any free time, shaming them when they come in second–and I think NO WAY, that’s not even right!  Besides, I’m not so sure about the first sentence above.  There are lots of things that can be fun even when you’re not very good at them.  

The book is fascinating, and I think she may have some good points, but there’s one thing I know for sure.  If she’s right that a good mother will devote her life to making sure her children excel at all costs, all that means is that I will never be a “good mother.”  I would never have the energy to do what she has done.  Nor would I be able to tolerate the constant battles that would inevitably result.  The picture this book paints of her relationship with her children is not one of joy.

I’ll choose joy, thank you!  happy



About dayuntoday

I'm a wonderer. I spend a lot of time mulling, pondering, and cogitating. This is just a place to park some of those thoughts.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Tiger Mother I Ain’t

  1. BooksForMe says:

    I would love to read this. I have a feeling that the cultural traditions play a very big part in their definition of a happy family. I saw her interviewed when the book came out, and she didn’t seem intolerable. That idea, though, that there are things that are not fun until we are good at them, has some truth to it. That’s on my FB status now.

  2. walkintrust says:

    I agree – joy triumphs!

  3. quilt_cats says:

    Hmm- well, people do tend to have more fun at things they excel in… but forcing a kid to do an instrument for six hours would drive mine to hate that instrument.  Definitely a different way of handling the kids, but it sounds like it would take all the joy out of being a kid.  Responsibilities are good, but don’t take all their childhood away just to make yourself (herself) look good.

  4. the_grat says:

    i Do think that (as a guardian of their futures) pressing for excellence, and stewarding their time for them… is Wise. most children amount to adults who will amount to very little… because no one ever expected or taught them to be any different.

  5. homefire says:

    @the_grat – @fwren – @quilt_cats – @walkintrust – @BooksForMe –  Thanks for your comments.  I may have been a little overly negative about this book because it definitely stomped all over my toes.  I know that I don’t spend as much time training my children as I should.  But I also don’t think that children being forced to use EVERY moment “productively”is good for them, mostly because adults don’t always realize what IS productive for children.  I firmly believe that unstructured playtime is vital for a child, that they learn many things we cannot teach them simply by exploring and evaluating their world.  I believe that hours in the sandbox and garden teach a child lessons about spatial awareness, volume, structural integrity, and nature that will never be covered in a classroom.  So Amy’s idea of getting your toddler into school as soon as possible, beginning violin lessons at 3 yrs old, and never being allowed to play with friends outside of school seems completely wrong to me.  I simply can’t believe that it is good for a child emotionally, spiritually, or physically to never have time to dream and look at the clouds.  I admit that our expectations have not been high enough, but I have trouble believing that children who are driven to achieve excellence will ever be completely happy adults.  And what about the poor kids who truly canNOT be first in their class or play in Carnegie Hall?  Everybody can’t be first, after all.  Amy made no allowances–if her children were not the BEST, she was dissatisfied.  That is obviously a recipe for disaster, and she did have one child who rebelled in the end, and even Amy, though seeming a bit mystified by it, had to admit that she seemed happy with not winning.  

  6. mcbery says:

    I’m for joy in raising children. Parents often get too wrapped up in making them and overlook the needs of the soul for creativity and expresssion. I can say that now because I’m a Grandma. I have an aunt that had 8 children, all grown now. She said she wishes she would have laughed and had more fun while they were growing up. I think I learned the joy part from my mom in raising kids and I’m very thankful for that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s