Can Tiger Moms Have Happy Cubs?

Amid the tiger mom battle cries and consequential cries of outrage, there's a middle ground to be found.

I’m no Tiger Mom. That is for sure. However, I just finished reading Amy Chua, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” and I loved it! 

The book’s author, Amy Chua raised two children, both music prodigies and Ivy League-bound kids. How did she do it?  She explains that she raised her kids in the “Chinese way.”  Her children were not allowed to have play dates, sleepovers or choices in their activities. They simply studied and practiced all the time.

Chua openly discusses the hard work, time and energy that went into pushing her kids as hard as she could.  She states, “so much of what I do is miserable, exhausting and not remotely fun for me.” But she does it because she believes in her kids.

Chua was raised with the same kinds of pressure and now is a Yale law professor and author.  She believes that harder you push your kids, the more successful they will become in their endeavors.

Her true deficiency is that she doesn’t believe that happiness is important. Happiness is simply not one of her goals. Chua explains, “The truth is I’m not good at enjoying life. It’s not one of my strengths.” As a result, it seems that she really doesn’t care if her kids are happy or miserable. Thus, she pushes her kids in ways that make you want to call Social Services on her. 

So why should a mom who has happiness as her main goal for children read this book?  There are so many reasons.

First of all, the book is well-written and hard to put down.  You are always wondering what will happen next. It’s a good read. Secondly, she has a lot of positive insight on children.  She wants her children to be prodigies because she really believes they can be prodigies through hard work. She never underestimates her children’s capabilities.

Her belief and commitment to her own kids has made me re-examine the expectations I have for my children this summer and kick them up a notch. My kids will still have play dates and sleepovers, but pushing my son to truly master his math facts seems realistic to me now. It will be more miserable for me than him and for that hour a day, we will put happiness aside.  

This book is a memoir of an obsessive, driven mother who, in the end, must give up some control to achieve “happiness.” Amy Chua, takes parenting seriously, and that should be respected. However, most of us have different parenting goals than Chua. If nothing else, reading her book should encourage us to stick to our goals even when the going gets tough. 

You can order “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom” by Amy Chua at Amozon.com.


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