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.

Part 1: Review of “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”

The first thing I thought when I finished Amy Chua’s book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is: this woman is brilliant. My second thought (not quite so flattering): this woman is wrong. That is about as far as I got for a couple days as I mentally processed Chua’s book, which felt like an unapologetic punch in the face to Western parents. Chua’s smart, she’s articulate, and she knows people—which means I have to take her seriously. I also have to give her credit for some very astute observations.

Her story is a memoir, telling the story of her, her husband (although he plays a behind-the-scenes part in the story), and her two daughters. Her goal: prize winning musical opportunities. Chua starts her girls in music lessons early. In gory detail, she describes the process of forcing 3-6 hrs of music practice a day out of her girls. Early in the book, Chua’s daughter Lulu is struggling through a difficult musical piece. Chua says, “The house became a war zone, and I lost my voice yelling, but still there seemed to be only negative progress, and even I began to have doubts” (pg 62).

On the cover of her book she writes, “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.”

I would rewrite the end of that to say, “But instead, it’s about a bitter clash of cultures, the glory I still taste through my children, and how my thirteen-year-old humiliated me in a crowded restaurant.”

A lot of things could be said about this book. We could debate Chinese parenting versus Western parenting. We could debate Chinese values versus Western values. We could argue that Chua’s children (particularly her oldest, Sophia) were predisposed to being precocious, musical geniuses and that it was that, rather than Chua’s parenting style, that led to her children’s success.

Chua writes that she had a “fleeting taste of glory,” but based on her interviews and the tone of her book, I would say she continues to taste glory. Her oldest daughter, Sophia, has been accepted to an Ivy League School, and her youngest, Lulu, plays competitive tennis. Although Chua found that her methods didn’t work the same for both daughters, I get a strong impression that Chua would have zero hesitation in parenting the same way again.

The two questions I came away with from this book were:

1)      Do the ends justify the means?

2)      Do I want my children to like me?

To be answered in Part 2.

Try this…

Here are a few things to brighten your Monday.

Make these delicious White Chocolate Cranberry Granola Bars. These are my new standby–cheap to make and low calorie. I used regular milk in place of the evaporated milk.


Visit this blog: Eighteen25. They feature fun giveaways and easy DIY projects.


Read this book: “What Every Body Is Saying” by Joe Navarro–a body language guide written by a retired FBI agent.

Listen to this song: “The Great Love Story” by Jimmy Needham.

Until my next post…thanks for reading!

a song and a scripture

I was torn by what to write today as I had three different choices, but a song was laid on my heart today. See the lyrics below (you can also listen to this song on YouTube).

More Beautiful You by Jonny Diaz

Little girl fourteen flipping through a magazine
Says she wants to look that way
But her hair isn’t straight her body isn’t fake
And she’s always felt overweight

Well little girl fourteen I wish that you could see
That beauty is within your heart
And you were made with such care your skin your body and your hair
Are perfect just the way they are

There could never be a more beautiful you
Don’t buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you

Little girl twenty-one the things that you’ve already done
Anything to get ahead
And you say you’ve got a man but he’s got another plan
Only wants what you will do instead

Well little girl twenty-one you never thought that this would come
You starve yourself to play the part
But I can promise you there’s a man whose love is true
And he’ll treat you like the jewel you are

So turn around you’re not too far
To back away be who you are
To change your path go another way
It’s not too late you can be saved
If you feel depressed with past regrets
The shameful nights hope to forget
Can disappear they can all be washed away
By the one who’s strong can right your wrongs
Can rid your fears dry all your tears
And change the way you look at this big world
He will take your dark distorted view
And with His light He will show you truth
And again you’ll see through the eyes of a little girl

This song perfectly describes a battle I face daily, a lie I try to confront with God’s truth often. One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 18:16-19:

He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
From those who hated me,
For they were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the LORD was my support.
He also brought me out into a broad place;
He delivered me because He delighted in me.

I picture the “strong enemy” as the lies, the “dark distorted view.” And yes, they are “too strong for me.” But the Lord is my support and rescuer. Why did he deliver me?

Because He delighted in me.