Sunday, May 15, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother - Amy Chua

Well this was certainly a converstation getter!!!

I first heard about this book from a friend of ours (who doesn't even have kids!). She's the hip Mahnattan-living fashionista younger sister of my very good friend J.

She was telling us about how this book was stirring up controversy everywhere and it was a hot topic on all the major morning news shows.

Well, if you know us well, you know that we do not have TV.

No, it's not that we don't watch TV.

We don't HAVE a TV.

We live under a rock and we like it that way.

She was pretty much stunned that we'd never heard of this book and she said it was a must read.

What I appreciated most about her telling us about this book was HOW she told us.  She told us in a way that was not for or against the book.  She didn't love it and she didn't hate it, but she was fascinated by it and highly recommended it! 

Fast forward to a few weeks later and some one else (who I can't remember now) brought it up again! They also pressed on how fascinating it was.  I was sold.

I downloaded the Kindle sample and after reading the first chapter, I wanted more.  I started reading this book before our bookclub group had met to decide on our next selection.  I'd decided that I was going to read it with or without them.

When we finally met, it was my suggestion for the basket and it was picked!  Some rolled their eyes at it.  Some were excited.

We all agreed that it would be a great conversation getter for us as 2 of them have daughters (2 each) so it would be interesting. 

Well I really enjoyed this book.

Not only did I think it was a good read (well written, a page-turner, witty, funny, etc), I liked some of what she had to say!

I liked that she worked hard to not speak in generalizations (ie - "All Americans are lax with their parenting").

Whether people took it that way (and I can see SOME people being that way), it was not her intention. 

She was very clear to mention that not all parents are this way or that. 

Or, she was clear to say that the term "Chinese Mother" is an idea specific to how a person parents, regardless of their nationality or gender.

She said she knows some Western parents that are total "Chinese Mothers" and she knows some chinese parents that are not "Chinese Mothers" at all.

As for all the scandal and hub-bub... I will admit, I did not see any of it on the morning shows or on the talk radio so I can't speak to exactly what they were so scandalized about but for me, I did not find anything particularly shocking or scandalous in this book.

The example I'd heard of was when she was given a handmade birthday card by one of her daughters and she kicked it back.

Upon hearing it put that simply, sure... that might sound harsh.

But when you read the entire paragraph, the entire chapter and the whole context, it makes so much sense!  She had a real legit reason why she did that and it was simply that she thought knew her daughter could do so much better.  And she was right.

If anything, I think this book as taught me how to push myself more.  I don't see why we can't each be our own Chinese Mother (to ourselves).

For the past 5 years, I have been trying to perfect Tart Tatin.  I don't know why.  I got a bug up my butt and it's just something I feel I need to perfect.

Every time El Hub sees me pull out the cast iron skillet, he's like, "Oh geez... not that apple thing again..."

But I'm glad that I push myself to try and perfect it and I do think that everytime I make it, it does come out a bit better.

What if I'd given up after the first try, when it was basically a carcinogenic burnt charcoal mess.

The kicked-back Birthday card is no different.  She just wanted her daughter to do better cause she knew her daughter could do better.

I hope when people read this book, they'll enter it and read it with an open mind. 
Nothing bums me out more than when people are so closed off and closed minded that they miss the whole point of the story.

In the end, only 3 out of the 4 of us read the book.  Two of us really liked it and one of us thought it was a bit too much.  But that's cause her parenting style would be what the Chinese Mother would epitomize as 'typical Western parenting' - focusing all on the emotion of the child and not on their betterment...

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