I cannot lie; I have not read the book by Amy Chua, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. I’ve read Jessica Gottlieb’s review and take on the book, NPR’s review Huffington Post , Time Magazine, The Today Show, Oprah and yes the blogeshere resource ShePosts. Shucks I’ve read way more reviews on the book and tweets and Facebook posts than I can count! All of which makes me shutter and leaves me with some major concerns and thoughts:
1. There is not a superior way of raising a child. There are only superior thinking parents with personal agendas. Cultures, backgrounds, educations and experiences lead to variations in how children are raised and children with a variety of talents, interests and personalities.
2. Superior means to most people a “higher rank”. After years of facilitating playgroups for new parents I cannot be in support of ranking parenting skills or intelligent to mean better parenting or children being raised with better outcomes to be more successful and happy in life. Why? Well, my mom was 15 and so her skills and intelligence verses Amy Chua would of course be very different but sometimes skills and intelligence does not mean anything if you do not have love and family support – I know this first hand and it is why I am here and as successful as a I am. Are we measuring happiness when we talk superior? I’ve also seen this over and over in teaching “at risk” children and working with families and children. Love and the support of a network of families and children go a very long ways over time to happy and successful children.
3. Pushing our children to rank high on test scores and be what “we” want them to be steals their childhood. Are we all about ranks? Scores? Who are you trying to impress with your child? What about social and emotional intelligence? A is 85% developed by the time they are 5 years of age and so of course they are sponges and we can teach them to read, learn a language, play and instrument but let us not forget social and emotional well being. If a child can play the piano, speak three languages and has the highest IQ in the group but cannot work in a team, socialize, empathize for a friend who stubs their toe or feels pain and cannot control their emotions – does all of this other stuff matter? I’ve worked in a school where each child had high IQ’s and had brothers and sisters in college at 15 years of age and could easily meet the description above but could not function well on the playground or with friends their own age because mother’s like Amy Chua made them feel so “superior” that it crippled them socially and emotionally.
4. Different cultural values and parenting styles claiming to be superior do not equal better children or HAPPIER, HEALTHIER children long term that develop into happy and healthy adults. Amy specifically talks about this in her Oprah interview but what we are comparing here is culture and teaching differences not parenting styles when we talk of her book.
5. Individuality. Each child needs to be parented differently because they are indeed different and have different learning styles and even Amy in her Oprah interview admitted wishing she recognized her child’s individuality. Saying that one style of parenting is better than another or cultural preference for raising children is best or worse is not recognizing the individuality of a child.
Do I think that the author Amy Chua of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother means well for her children and that she is a good mother? I do not know her personally but yes. Any mother that wants such great things for her children and pours love into them is a good mother in her own way. My concern is a book that says her way of parenting is superior to my way of parenting does not foster a positive or healthy environment and this is exactly why I do not say I am pro attachment parenting or only pro breastfeeding and agree that one way of parenting is better than the next. We all have choices and what works best for us based on religion, history, culture and personal philosophies. A good friend of mind said the being the “radical middle” helps the most amount of people because you aren’t hitting people on the head with your idea but being middle of the road helping people to learn from each other and feel inspired not defeated – this good friend is right. When you do not feel accepted or you feel judged you naturally do not gravitate towards the idea that offends you or makes you feel less of a person.
I have to tell you after watching this video with Amy, I see her point of view and her heart – she has an opinion, loves her children and admits her book is not a how to book but I am not sure why I cannot have high expectations of my children, love them and not raise them the way of the Tiger Mother. The video and the marketing of the book along with the press coverage certainly conflict with each other but I was happy to hear she has rebelling children and moments where she questions her parenting , so maybe I should read the book and give it a chance –hmmm?
So how do you feel about the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and calling one type of parenting style or cultural way of upbringing superior to the next? After all CBS News professes her children could kick my children’s butt and well of course the defenses come up and the boxing gloves are put on – which hello the media loves (oh, but nothing is mentioned about social and emotional well being or happiness)! How do you feel?