Of all the books I have read over the past year Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother suprised me the most. I began the book with the distinct feeling that I was going to abhor Amy Chua and be repulsed by her Draconian methods of child rearing. Instead I was surprised to find that I liked her very much and although I do things very differently in parenting my children, her method is more of a paradigm shift from my own versus the wrong to my right.
Chinese Mothers are harsh, they are strict and thier expectations are severe and high reaching. I agree with Ms. Chua in the regard that Western parents coddle their children and spend far too much time on the smothering concept of self esteem. Chinese mothers do not give a whit about self esteem and feel that their children owe them everything. However, I think the constant berating and demands that Ms. Chua put on her daughters- while leading them to great success- damaged a relationship that could have been somethine beautiful.
While reading about the methods she used to get her girls to practice piano for long hours a day, I jokingly demanded that Gabby get to the piano and not stop until she had perfected her latest piece. I put on my best stern face and pointed demandingly at the piano and made her sit there. She giggled at me and played. She loves the piano and while she won't be playing at Carnegie Hall next year in eighth grade the way Sophia Chua did, she is enjoying the learning process.
As I said, I liked Amy Chua because although I felt that she put relentless demands on her children, she really did want them to succeed and not be lazy like so many western counterparts are. I can respect that. On the other hand, I think children need a childhood and I'll go one step further and say that they deserve one. I would not make a good Chinese Mother. I like my free spirited self to much for the rigid discipline required to reach such astronomical heights at a young age. While the idea of prodigious children is appealing, if as adults they can look back and say that their childhood was happy, harmonious and educational then I have done my job.