Thursday, March 3, 2011

Amy Chua

I enjoyed the interview that Charlie Rose has with Amy Chua regarding her very misunderstood book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. She was very clear that the book was not "how to do" but meant to be humourous and a memoir. Her opinions about child rearing struck me as rock solid, i.e. hold high expectations for your kids, but be willing to recognize that their personality may conflict with your wishes as a parent and the parent needs to adjust while still holding high expectations.

From a McLeans review of the book:
The book is peppered with funny, self- excoriating scenes of Chua’s extreme mothering. Chua acknowledges she has had doubts, but she never goes so far as to denounce Chinese parenting. “The results speak for themselves,” she says a few times. Her oldest daughter Sophia played piano at Carnegie Hall, while Lulu won a prodigy award for playing the violin. When Lulu finally breaks rank, the rebellion is a satisfying, American-style tantrum. Full sympathy goes to Jed, the Jewish husband, who tries to dial down his wife’s intensity.

By heaping scorn on Western parenting, Chua will raise ire and polarize readers. At her most pointed, Chua says, “Western parents . . . try to persuade themselves that they’re not disappointed about how their kids turned out” (page 50). In reaction, some readers will call her a heartless drill sergeant. Others will want her to raise their kids.
In the interview with Charlie Rose she makes clear she isn't really for the strict Chinese mothering. She wants "strict traditional" and kept pointing out that the "founding fathers of America" were raised in a strict traditional upbringing. The permissive style of raising kids is only roughly 30 years old. She makes clear she wants a blend of traditional with a tempered, caring style of upbringing. She even points out in the Charlie Rose interview that she rebelled from the "strict Chinese" style of upraising just as he daughter Lulu. So she gets it. The book is self-deprecating. Readers need to ease up and enjoy the irony and the self-mocking tone.

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