When I finally got my hands on a copy of Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I was surprised to find that it was nothing like what I expected.
I may be about as far from being a so-called "tiger mom" as a woman can possibly be, but I found myself oddly inspired by Chua.
Yes, the woman has impossibly high standards -- for her daughters, herself, and for parents everywhere. But why is that a bad thing?
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a book about Chua's personal journey of introspection and self discovery. But, through her own story, Chua is no doubt challenging the rest of us to step up our own game as well. She isn't telling us to ban sleepovers or drill violin as if our lives depended on it, but she is asking us to take a good, hard look at our own children, and to ask ourselves if we're really raising them as we should be.
After finishing the book, I had two thoughts.
One, that Chua was too strict with her girls, and that I don't think her parenting methods were always the most beneficial.
Two, that I am too lenient with my own children, and that a lot of my parenting methods (or fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants non-methods, to be more accurate) probably aren't the most beneficial either.
And I think that may have been the point that Chua was really trying to make (and if not, well, that's the point I took away from the book). She wasn't saying that Chinese parenting is better than Western parenting, but she was saying that we as parents have an obligation to do our very best to prepare our children to face an uncertain world.
We may not agree with Chua's ideas about the right way to prepare them, but I think we can all agree that it needs to be done. Take a close look at your own children, and your own parenting methods. Where can you stand to improve?
It might not be easy for any of us to look so closely at our own flaws and shortcomings, but Amy Chua is right.
Our children deserve it.