The tale of the Tiger Mother

The tale of the Tiger Mother

A while ago, I read a book that has sparked some controversy on parenting in America as well as across the globe. In Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, the author, Amy Chua, tells the story of how she raised her two daughters, Sophia and Lulu, using “traditional” Chinese parenting methods while living in America with her American husband.

There were several things that I believe were unreasonable about Chua’s methods. In the book, she mentioned that besides focusing on their schoolwork, her daughters could only play the violin and the piano. She didn’t even consider activities such as sports. She limited her daughters’ areas of interest and suppressed their talents in other activities other than music. She later admitted her younger daughter actually had an aptitude for playing tennis. I don’t think limiting extra-curricular activities is an effective way to discipline a child.

Chua also banned her daughters from play dates, sleepovers and school plays. I can understand the part about play dates and sleepovers, but not school plays. That is just depriving a child of his or her opportunity to be involved at school. It is a valuable experience to be in a school play as you can learn about teamwork and communication, not to mention the technical details of a play such as lighting and music arrangements.

The author claimed that these activities were just a waste of time and her children needed that time to practice their musical instruments instead. There is no doubt that playing classical music instruments can be extremely beneficial to cultivating a sense of culture and elegance since I play the violin and piano myself. However Chua wasn’t open-minded to see that a larger variety of activities might actually enrich her daughters’ life experiences.

Moreover, Amy Chua was too obsessed with her daughters’ musical pursuits and daily life. She tagged along with Sophia and Lulu to almost every music lesson they had. She accompanied and instructed them during every practice session held. The practice sessions couldn’t even be temporarily halted when they went on holidays. In addition, she always wanted to control every aspect of her daughters’ lives, from what they did to when they did it and who they did it with. It seemed to me like she was a bit of a control freak. She didn’t allow her children to learn how to become independent and develop self- discipline.

However, there were some qualities I admired about Chua. Her commitment and perseverance is to be applauded. She is willing to sacrifice almost everything from her own life for the sake of her children. She would drive them anywhere if she thinks it is worth it. She would leave work just to take her daughter to music practice, go back to work, leave to pick her up, and back again. She has the patience that many parents lack. My mother would easily let me give up on something I don’t like doing.

The author’s determination is also something I appreciate. Surrounded by Western families, values and beliefs, she insisted on her ways. Instead of worrying about her children’s self-esteem, like a lot of Western parents would, she had faith in her daughters to be strong and not cave under the pressure. Now, both Sophia and Lulu are outstanding individuals with good grades and great musical abilities.

I believe the best approach to parenting is to take the best out of both worlds, the fundamental principles of two parenting techniques. The essence of Chinese or Eastern thinking is ability and discipline, while the Western emphasise more on creativity and individualism. Combining the two instead of focusing entirely on one will most definitely foster a well-rounded development.

I would like my parents to be people who have the good qualities of both methods of parenting. They would be there if I needed them to remind me of my work, but not someone who behaved like a helicopter parent, constantly checking up on you and not letting you be independent. However they also need to be strict at times when I do something wrong or when I don’t want to do something right. Even though I am just a kid, I know parenting is hard. That’s why we children need to do our best in everything to make life easier for our mums and dads.

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