Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Are You A Tiger?

I'm sure by now all of you have heard about or read about Amy Chua's book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother on the news or other blogs.  If you haven't, here's an excerpt from the book that was posted in the Wall Street Journal online Life and Culture section.  Do take the time to read it because I'd love to hear your thoughts.

In a nutshell Chua chronicles her own parenting journey, breaking down what she believes to be the Chinese method of parenting and why it is superior to Western methods.

There is SO MUCH to discuss with this method of parenting, I'm not sure I could even begin to scratch the surface.  As I was reading the excerpt, so many times the protesting began in my head, despite my best efforts to keep an open mind and not think as a "Westerner".

So instead of trying to digest it all here, I just want to pull out one quote in particular.  It is one that ironically, although I personally felt instant aversion to it, several of my friends and women I speak with were in agreement with.  I wanted to flesh it out here to see if I could put thought behind my initial reaction.

"What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it."

 My first thought here is that that statement can't possibly be true.  Nothing is fun until you're good at it?  What constitutes fun?  What constitutes good?  The parameters here are so broad and general and yet this is the key point used to justify requiring your child to practice 2-3 hours every.single.day at an instrument that they maybe didn't even want to play in the first place.

My second thought is, I think I want my children to enjoy doing something that they aren't very good at. Princess #1, for example.  She sucked at soccer.  I mean, truly.  She tried her hardest, but she wasn't aggressive, and much preferred for someone else to have control over the ball.  But she loved it.  She looked forward to practice (as much as I loathed the 2 day a week commitment) and couldn't wait to play every Saturday in the league.  And every Saturday she would run up and down the field with a huge smile on her face, while I would sit there, praying that she wouldn't make any grievous errors like kicking the ball into her opponents' goal.  She had no idea that she wasn't any good.  She was just having, oh, what's that word?  FUN.

And finally, I think my aversion to the above quote stems from my belief that being the best at something is not the be all end all.  I just can't get behind the idea that you've got to be good (read: the best, since according to the article Chinese parents accept nothing less) at something to enjoy it and I think it's setting up an expectation that will be difficult to live up to.

I know there are so many things at play here in this book, things I can't even begin to touch.  And they are deep, foundational issues:  culture, belief systems, parental childhood experiences - all these things that are poured into how we parent and cannot be easily swayed.  I believe at the heart of it all, this author wants her children to grow into responsible, successful, compassionate, contributing members of society.  I just happen to disagree with her method of getting there.

My friends, these are just some of the rambling thoughts that have been floating in my head today.  So this post is intended to be a discussion.  I want to hear from you on this!  Respond to the quote or to the article as a whole.  

  • What are your thoughts?  
  • Do you think a person needs to be good at something to have fun doing it?  What experiences have brought you to that conclusion?  
  • Do you see value in her method of parenting?  
  • Is she off her rocker?  
  • On a parenting scale of 1-10, if she is a 10, where do you fall?  Why do you think that is?



  1. I do not want to mimic or emulate the Chinese way of parenting. I would never read that book. The cultural differences alone would stop me. Really, a society that fills orphanages up with infant girls and ties them up in potty chairs during the day and in cribs at night. I don't think so........
    I will just settle with being an average American parent.

  2. A friend of mine posted an article about that book on facebook yesterday. So far I haven't been able to bring myself to read it. I know that I'm not a perfect mom by any means and my children are not perfect (although they are in my eyes) but they are happy and healthy and that's all that I care about.

  3. I just put myself on the waiting list for this book at the library yesterday. I'm definitely interested to read more. From what I read in the review in Entertainment Weekly, it's not a parenting method I could subscribe to. Nothing is fun until you're good at it? I sucked at basketball but still played rec league until middle school. Why? Because it was fun! Still, I want to read more before totally passing judgment... although I'm pretty sure I'll still disagree with her when I'm done reading it.

  4. Haven't heard of the book or read it. Yes, I live under a rock. That being said, ummmmm, I certainly understand wanting your child to be good at something. I think though, I'd rather mine be good at something THEY want to be good at. R is in ballet right now, we put her in before she was 2 1/2 for no other reason then that we wanted to give her something to do outside of the house and she loves dancing. We've already decided though that if she wants to stop, we'll stop, and if she's, say 5 or 6 and decides she'd like to try it again, (if we have the means) then we'll let her try. It's not so much that we're giving her everything she wants, to us it's that she's figuring out who she is, and who are we to get in the way of this AMAZING creation that God gifted us with?
    That being said, I haven't read the book. Their might be some good points in it. I suppose it's almost like everything else, excluding the God's Word.
    You take what sits well within you and discard the rest.
    Great post.

  5. I just wanted to stop by and thank you for your kind words on my blog...
    Interestingly enough I heard about this book and did a kindle sample. I haven't read it yet, but it looks like a good one to get my mind on a different topic.
    love and light....L

  6. Proving again, I am always behind on the new read. I don't think you have to be good at something to have fun. I stink at volleyball, but you better believe my butt is out there playing at every summer picnic!


Let me know what you think!

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