Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

It’s been aboot a year since I borrowed Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother from my mother-in-law.

I loved the book, it was well written and fun adventure story, filled with humor, inspiration and real emotion. It’s taken me so long to review it, because I didn’t want to let the book down. I know, silly, huh? Well… read it. It’s awesome.  At least read the chapters “Popo” and “The Birthday Card*”.
First, it made me realize how lazy I am. Of course I want to be a driven parent, to drive my kids to succeed…but I’m lazy. Professor Chua, is in a very competitive and time consuming field, traveled for lectures & seminars, wrote two scholarly books, shuffled her children to many music lessons and competitions, and still had time to walk the dogs.

Her theory, children don’t naturally want to do the difficult. I’ve seen that for potty-training, cleaning room, putting away their bikes, taking dishes to sink…  I don’t know if I’m prepared to make them put in the work so that they excel in school.  Must learn to  be a hard ass. I do not want them to turn out like me.

Something I agree with, and will probably experience first hand, when she writes, “Nothing I hate more than…schools are constantly trying to make learning fun by having parents do all the work.” (pg 64)

I’ve had people ask me, attacking the TigerMom because they heard all the negative press about her, “but are the kids happy?”  Professor Chua counters that with

  • no proof that normal-USA style families are any happier (pg 101).
  • The worst thing you can do is let them give up when it’s difficult (pg 62).
  • That you can enjoy something more if you are good at it (pg 29) .
  • That success brings opportunities which gives you more freedom of choice (pg 132).


Seven things Tiger-mothers believe

  1. schoolwork always comes first – I agree
  2. an A-minus is a bad grade – I agree
  3. your children must be two years above their grade in math – I agree
  4. never compliment your children in public
  5. always side with teacher or coach
  6. only do activities that you can win a medal – funny, a co-worker is taking her sun to a cup-stacking championship in Texas
  7. that medal must be gold – disagree


Here’s a funny story, about how difficult it is to be good. Her eldest daughter, practiced piano for multiple hours every day for a dozen years… goes to a Professor of Piano at Yale. He listens, then gives her a stack of books to help her with techniques she is deficient in. Laughed.  Getting good is more than Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule, evidently!

I think the best support for her theory, comes from Saturday Night Live Weekend Update… they showed a tape of elementary schools across America singing an uplifting self-confidence-boosting song, and Seth Meyer’s finished with, “…meanwhile, a billion Chinese kids were doing math.”   Or maybe from Lewis Black, showing a video of a kid biking down a hill, up and over a ramp, and smack into the wall of a house. Lewis responded with, “you’re right, we don’t need geometry, with a little more self esteem, that kid could have made it.”

Life is gonna be tough for my childrens. And I gotta do my best to get them prepared. It used to be that a C average and HS diploma could get an American kid a decent job in a factory. Now, we have a couple billion ready to work harder, for more hours, and less pay.

America, we gotta remember how to put in the work in order to be the best. Luckily, we have a few parents like Amy Chua.

*Birthday card…just because something is acceptable gift for your mother when you are four, doesn’t mean it is OK to give her the same quality of gift when you are twelve. You need to put time into it, to show that you care. I am trying to do this…this past mother’s day, I took the childrens and we worked on a poster… not much, but the pre-schoolers did alright for their level. Now if I can be a good father, and encourage them to keep this up for all the following Mother’s Days and Birthdays.


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