Errant Tiger Cub‘s parents lent me their copy of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother on Monday. While is wasn’t on my “to read” list, I kinda wanted to see what all the fuss was about. When I checked the reviews, there seemed to be a little confusion as to the focus of the book (did the reviewers actually read it?)
I finished it on Wednesday.
What it’s about, by the way, is written on the front cover:
This is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs.
This was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones.
But instead, it’s about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how I was humbled by a thirteen-year-old.
‘Zacktly that, and nothing more. But Amy Chua has a wicked sense of humour (one that is definitely Chinese), and as a parent I can understand everything she wrote. Even if you aren’t a parent, if you’ve ever had any contact with a pubescent girl you will understand what she wrote.
If you can laugh at yourself, you’ll understand what she wrote.
And, no, it doesn’t conclude that Chinese parenting is the best method. And, no, it doesn’t help me with Errant Tiger Cub.
For me – remember that I (virtually) spend four hours of each weekday in China – it was interesting to watch the cultures clash. I know exactly what it’s like to have an aspect of yourself that you’d rather die than let go of, and I know what it’s like when you’re not important enough to have that aspect honoured. It must be difficult to be in that family; I can now see the appeal of marrying within your own culture.
I thought it was great that she could be so honest about her parenting failures. (All my parenting failures are locked in the closet with the rest of the things I don’t want to admit.) But there was one sentence that shocked me, one sentence I thought would be too humiliating to write down anywhere:
I also wasn’t naturally skeptical and questioning; I just wanted to write down everything the professor said and memorize it.
Huh. If she told me she kept sheep corpses under her bed for night-time entertainment, I wouldn’t have been more horrified. I’m alright with her confessing to screaming and yelling and calling her daughters names (have I been desensitized by modern culture?), but this is appalling. I mean, Jesus…. I don’t know what to do with that sentence.
Except for that one sentence, it’s an interesting read for parents and teachers. And people who are often caught in culture clashes. Or people who often find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Not sure I’d pay for the hardcover, but it’s probably worth a hold at the library.