Tigers Aren't So Terrible


The other day, I went with a dear friend to hear Amy Chua speak about her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Before you heave a rock at your computer screen, please allow me to explain.

When the book was released, I read plenty of articles and reviews about it, including the one published under the headline “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” in the Wall Street Journal on January 8, 2011 and decided that I wanted no part of reading the book. Based on my review reading, this woman sounded completely looney-tunes.

In her talk, however, Chua had the platform from which to tell the audience that many readers (& reviewers!) missed the irony and self-depracating humor in the title and the piece itself and instead believed that she was advocating the “superiority” of a particular, very strict, ethnically defined approach to parenting. Her intention was for the book to be funny, a self-parody. She said that it was really “weird” to read what was written in the media.

GULP. I didn’t just judge the cover of the book, I judged it based on the reviews. It was definitely a Moonstruck “snap out of it” moment.

Chua went on to say that the “Tiger Mom” is not about achievement; rather it is about believing in your kids and believing that they are capable of so much more than they think they are. Uhhhh, yeah, that’s exactly how I roll.

GULP, again. I was feeling pretty rotten at this point. The Silver Lining is that I learned a very valuable lesson about making snap judgments and ASS-U-Ming. I have bought the book and it is at the top of my reading list. Have you read it? If so, I’d love to hear what you think about it!

Leave a comment


  1. says

    Great post. So easy to make our decisions based on what other people think or say. And it's a challenge quite often to just think for ourselves without the additional input. I haven't read the book but given what you learned from listening to the author speak…I think I'll give it a go and see what I think! :)

  2. Patricia Harkness says

    Nope, I have not read it because I formed the same judgment you did. She seemed like one of those "supermoms" I knew when my girls were growing up who pushed their kids and so managed their lives that they had no time to just be a child.

    I did not see the interview, but I would love to hear your interpretation of her book. As a former teacher, I have known too many parents who push, push, push their children to excel in so many areas that by the time they are teenagers; they are just burned out. What about time to just be a child? To use one's imagination, to play with dolls, to climb trees, to build sheet forts…to have tea parties. One's imagination is a very part of that person. To learn to fill your own free time without having to "DO" something every minute. I still fully believe that.

    If she allowed her children those times; then I am wrong about her. Being strict is fine; but pushing a child beyond their limits just to fill some "need" in the mother, I am fully against. Many children are more passive and will not rebel against this type of mothering; but, there are many who, at some point, will totally rebel and swing so far the other way just to get out from under their mother's thumb that you can have a total backlash. Not all children are as pliable as her girls are. God bless the mother who.
    thinks she can totally control her child with no repercussions.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

    • says

      Dear Patricia,
      Thanks so much for your 2 cents!
      As a child development specialist, I couldn't agree more about certain parents pushing their children to excel. As I learned in graduate school, "PLAY is the work of a child." This is certainly our philosophy.
      I'll definitely let you know what I think about the book.
      Thanks, again!