Author: Amy Chua
First Published: 2011
Page Count: 229
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 4/5 Stars
A no holds bar inside look at what it’s like to raise children tiger mom style in modern-day America.
*Eye opening look at strict chinese mothering * Personal stories
* Unlikable narrator
“Unlike Western parents, reminding my child of Lord Voldemort didn’t bother me.” Amy Chua gives readers permission to see the good, the bad, and the very ugly aspects of her experience raising two daughters from infancy to their teenage years. With the goal of preserving her family’s culture and raising her children to be their best, Mrs. Chua has chosen to take the long, hard road of “tiger mom” parenting. That means limiting her daughters on time with their friends and exposure to pop culture, while also maintaining a strict schedule of studying and practicing their designated instruments. After all the sweat and tears, the reader is left to make their own judgments on this type of parenting style that Chua has so openly exposed us to in this memoir.
The reason this book is entertaining is that everyone knows at least one stereotypical aspect of the tiger mother parenting style and this book feeds right into that stereotype. If you are looking to be shocked by the strict, rigid discipline that is enforced upon children under tiger moms like you’ve heard, or if you’re looking for the chaos you’ve imagined when a child erupts from being stifled too long you will find it all in this book. I was pretty shocked at what these kids called a childhood but it did make for good reading. While at times it feels like the author is just trying to feed the stereotype to shock you and get more publicity, there is a point where you realize how horribly unflattering some of these stories are on the mother. They are very personal events in her family’s life and to share some of the most raw moments can only be described as brave.
While the laws of the house that the mother lays down are maddening and the fights go pretty below the belt, it not only entertains the reader, but a dislike for the author begins to breed with each insane demand or expectation she places on her daughters. I won’t tell you some of the outrageous things she forces upon them. I’m sure you can find them with a little internet research because I remember round upon round of TV interviews with this woman about her book. I’d rather you read it yourself because once you see all that she has put them through as a whole, the intensity of her parenting style really hits you. Having had many friends who have gone through this style of parenting, albeit a less harsh version but rough nonetheless, I have a strong bias against the method. However, instead of trying to defend her methods she chooses the “I’m right and that’s that” argument, which seems childish. You almost hope at the end of the book when she starts questioning the childhood she’s given her daughters that she has finally seen the light, until she quickly dives back into defense mode for her cause. You have to read the book to judge for yourself, but from what she has chosen to reveal to us, I was not impressed with the type of tactics one would have to use to achieve “success” at parenting.
As pure entertainment this book is worth picking up. It’s something everyone can have an opinion on and can get a little heated about the topic no matter what side of the fence you’re on. What’s great is Chua is not peddling a parenting manual like I thought she was. This is merely her story laid out as one example of a household’s life with tiger mom parenting. She defends it to the very end but there are at least moments where she questions it as well, even if those are few and far between. You make the decision on what success as a parent means to you and what actions you are willing to take to get there.