In nurturing their children, Asian parents generally exert control to steer their children in the right direction. The result often reaches a satisfactory level in a way that many young Asians excel in almost every area of worthwhile endeavor.
Can this example become a paragon of virtue to Western parents? Amy Chua, a Chinese American law professor at Yale University addresses the question in “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”. The book is an account of her Asian way to raise her two daughters, Sophia and Louisa (Lulu), both are now teenagers.
Her attempt to bring up her children in the US encountered difficulties. It is not an easy task, especially in the country where most western parents tolerate the squiggle act of their children.
After Sophia was born in 1993, and then Lulu three years later, Chua decided to impose strict discipline – TV is off-limits, no going on dates or sleep over at friends’ homes. In addition to forcing her children to be fluent in Mandarin, Chua expects both girls to be straight-A students.
Both Sophia and Lulu started their piano and violin lessons, respectively, at an early age. The two girls have to practice their instruments at least an hour everyday.
She threatens to throw Sophia’s doll away if she doesn’t do good at her piano lesson. Chua mentions that she calls Sophia “garbage” in one occasion where she misbehaves.
Notwithstanding Chua’s sincere intention by imposing such a discipline to her children, the situation leads to impasse marked by Lulu’s rebelliousness.
“I really do love the violin, but couldn’t things be a little less intense?”, Lulu expresses her frustration. In the end, Chua gives in Lulu’s beg to give up the violin. The teen faces a dilemma, whether excelling at music or excoriating her mother. The book concludes with Lulu becoming a rising star in tennis.
After all, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is the book worth reading. It explores the differences in Eastern and Western parenting, where parents can learn the positive values from each culture in inculcating the best in their children.
Text: The Writerpreneur. Published in 3S Newsletter, Sept-Nov 2011. Photos courtesy of abcnews.go.com