TIGER MOTHER Debate Rages On


The Wall Street Journal ran an excerpt (titled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior“) from Amy Chua’s new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, last week and ignited a new debate about parenting styles. In the book, Chua explains that she never allowed her daughters to “attend a sleepover, have a playdate, be in a school play, choose their own extracurricular activities, get any grade less than an A, not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama, or play any instrument other than the piano or violin.” Some of the most controversial parts of the book include Chua’s description of throwing homemade birthday cards back at her girls because she expected more effort and the time she called her daughter “garbage” for behaving disrespectfully.

Everybody seems to have an opinion about the Tiger Mother parenting style—the original article in the WSJ currently has over 6,800 comments—and people want to weigh in. Ayelet Waldman—who caused a controversy of her own when she wrote an essay about how she loves her husband more than her children—has written a response in the WSJ about being a Jewish mother of four children (with husband and fellow author Michael Chabon). New York Times columnist David Brooks has also written an op-ed piece titled “Amy Chua is a Wimp.” He says,

“Practicing a piece of music for four hours requires focused attention, but it is nowhere near as cognitively demanding as a sleepover with 14-year-old girls. Managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, navigating the distinction between self and group — these and other social tests impose cognitive demands that blow away any intense tutoring session or a class at Yale.”

After receiving so much backlash, Chua seems to be downplaying the things she wrote in her book, claiming that it was supposed to be “tongue-in-cheek, making fun of myself.” You can read more of her response in the WSJ follow up where she answers readers’ questions. Her 18-year-old daughter also responds to the critics in an open letter to her Tiger Mom in the New York Post.

So do you plan on reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother? Or do you wish the Tiger Mother would go away? Let me know in the comments.

Follow me on Twitter @kristendaemons

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