After reading only excerpts and reviews for two months, I was finally able to read Amy Chua’s book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother today. Others may criticize the book and Chua’s parenting techniques, but I found the book to be an honest look into the mind of a Chinese mother struggling to do the best for her children.
In her own words Chua does not come across as oppressive as the excerpts would suggest. Although Chua may be looking at herself favorably, through her stringent parenting tactics she seeks the ultimate success of her children. Chua achieves this success by pushing her daughters to perfect grades, musical excellence, and bilingualism. As overachievers, Chua in parenting and her daughters in musical and academic pursuits, they reap the expected rewards of first prizes and outside recognition. But especially with Lulu, Chua’s younger, more headstrong daughter, these achievements are not accomplished without excessive tension between mother and child. At this cost, is success worthwhile?
Even Chua wonders why she forces her daughters, herself, and her husband through so much travail. We ask for what purpose do we seek success? For our happiness?
But if Lulu is successful, she isn’t happy. Her heart doesn’t lie in being the best violinist possible but in enjoying life, which Chua says that she as a Chinese parent isn’t good at doing.
God wants excellence, and Christians should do no less. Just as Chua observes that her dogs have different mental capacities from humans, we live confidently by making the best use of the ten or five or one talent that God has entrusted us with.
We don’t all need to be first.