Part 2: Review of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Okay, I lied. I’m only answering the first question in this post. Part 3 to follow this.

Do the ends justify the means?

Let me start with part of Maureen Corrigan’s review:

 “When Chua married her husband, fellow Yale law professor and novelist Jed Rubenfeld, they agreed that their children would be raised Jewish and reared “the Chinese way,” in which punishingly hard work — enforced by parents — yields excellence; excellence, in turn, yields satisfaction in what Chua calls a “virtuous circle.” The success of this strategy is hard to dispute. Older daughter Sophia is a piano prodigy who played Carnegie Hall when she was 14 or so. The second, more rebellious daughter, Lulu, is a gifted violinist.”

I don’t believe that Chua is suggesting that everyone should parent the way she does. I do think she is pointing to her “results,” and telling you how she got there. Back to our original question: Do the ends justify the means? Chua would say that hers do. All of her harsh parenting is worth it if her children get a good education, become the best in their field, surpass their peers at everything.

This question pertains entirely to values. This is a religious value for me. If there is no God and this life is all there is, then yes, the ends justify the means. Having material success is INCREDIBLY important if this [the life we’re living right now] is it.

Because I do believe in eternity with God, I don’t see Chua’s “ends” as being incredibly important. Frankly, God doesn’t give a rip if my future children surpass their peers at everything, get an awesome job, or practice piano 6 hours a day. Now, it would be NICE if my children did well in school, and if they do become incredibly talented in a given field, that’s great.

My conclusions:

1)      My “ending goal” is different than Chua’s

2)      If you achieve “academic perfection” in your children, but you basically screamed at them their entire life to get there, I don’t think you’ve really achieved anything.

3)      Chua is also saying that the “ends” she accomplished are particular to her style of parenting. I disagree. Other incredibly dedicated and talented children are the result of “Western parenting.”

Coming soon…Part 3.

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