Monday, February 14, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother... by Amy Chua

Precious Pearl brought my attention to this book... and I found it amusing too. Plus I could identify with the author... a lot. LOL! BTW too, the author is a Yale Law Professor. Her husband too!!!

The book brought in a lot of criticism from 'Western' media because Amy Chua's version of Chinese parenting is deemed very 'harsh' treatment to children. She's accused in all kinds of terms.... mollycoddling, menace, wimp, over-nurturing, prestige whoring (just learned this term).... the list is quite long. LOL!

Does Western parenting do a better job with happiness?? She says it's no better. But I think Chinese parents get a better deal at old age cos filial piety is something which is expected, or even demanded of their children... that children take care of their parents because they owe it to them the persons they've become.

Western parenting is more about boosting the self-esteem, meaning they give affirmative praises even for mediocre performance. Chinese parents on the other hand, demand excellence. But they are also lousy at dealing with failure cos the word is not supposed to exist in their vocab. It was funny reading about her clashes with her second girl who was very headstrong. I've a headstrong boy too......

One thing which I agree very much with her... in order to like something, one must excel in it first. But to excel you need to put in a lot of effort. Hence, rote learning, drilling, harsh words and punishments are all utilized towards that effort. These methods are frowned upon by affirmative (Western) parenting though, are what makes up the Chinese parenting style arsenal. I have to agree with her... a kid will never like something that he/she is not familiar or good at. You've got to push them (well, at least most of them) first. But there's need for affirmation too...

I find it immensely entertaining, Amy Chua's account of how she made her kids practise their piano/violin. And I can identify with her.... LOL! I remember holding the cane, almost nodding off to sleep from tiredness from my 3rd trimester of pregnancy, making sure my boy of 9 practised his piano. Suffice to say he was sobbing as he pounded away on the piano. It was a battle of wills.... often times with threats, cajoling, etc, etc.... without which I am sure my boy would not have completed his Grade 8 piano. It wasn't the piano skills that I was after cos in the end I just told him that he needed to complete it. It was the attitude of not quitting half-way that I was trying to instill in him and also the discipline. Music Theory was never much of a problem for him... as he'd score Merits or Distinctions. It was the Practical aspect... he was just too lazy to practise. I think it was more tiring on me than on him, his piano episode. It's much easier to just let him quit.... the marginal person that he was. Cheaper for us too... piano lessons are not exactly cheap!

I think 'Western' parenting is a bit more of a lazy type of parenting too. It's much easier to let a child choose or decide for himself than be at loggerhead with him/her over something which he/she desires (which may not be good for him). Cos the old 'Western' parenting style was actually quite strict too. As society evolved and as mom and dad go out and work, they have less time to spend with their kids, less energy to instill discipline, less of themselves to give basically.... hence the evolution into the Western style parenting that we know today... then the justifications. It's just like how we always condemn the Western Culture as decadent, etc, etc... It was not like that long time ago... it became decadent as good life became the norm. We become lazy with the good life..... Remember the Greeks???? Or the Romans for that matter.

I think kids need a balanced dose of facts, discipline and encouragement. Life is not all glossy and nice. You can't be telling a kid who can just belt out a few tunes on the piano or whatever instruments averagely that he's talented when he's not. Cos if you do that, he's never going to try to better himself or stand up to hard times. He'll keep running back to his parents for help or worse still, as the recent spate of suicides taking place, take his own life for the quick way out because he/she is just not resilient enough. But some also attribute suicides to over-nurturing... because in over-nurturing, children are over-protected and ends up lacking the social skills to understand the nuances of life... which sometimes can be bewildering.

So Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother... it's an interesting book. I may not agree with all her approaches but it certainly contains quite a lot of gems too... plus it put quite a lot of silly grins on me as I read along. LOL! So interesting that I finished it 2 days after I finished Grisham's The Confession, this being Book 7 for the year. Yay!

For those parents-to-be... go read what this other side of the old parenting style school has to offer... there are gems there to be collected for your own little arsenal when you become parents. 8) But bear in mind too, different kids require modifications of our parenting style... but the essence of parenting should always remain these too... love, hope, faith... cos there is no such thing as Western parenting or Chinese parenting.... parenting is just that.... PARENTING!


SM Ting said...

send to me.....

PreciousPearl said...

lololol! glad u found it entertaining. I dint know whether to larf or cry at some of the more excruciating bits when she was fighting with her kids/ hubby!