Tuesday, January 10, 2012
'Tiger Mom' is Back ... Because She's Selling Her Paperback
I really didn’t want to leap onto the Tiger Mom bandwagon again, now that the Yale University Law Professor’s controversial book – The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother – is now out in paperback. But Amy Chua’s latest Wall Street Journal essay and her appearance on news programs -- where she says that, despite all the time she’s had to reflect and all the negative reactions her book sparked, she wouldn’t change anything and that her methods are superior to the "soft" American style of child-rearing-- has pulled me back into this quagmire again. (The return of Chua’s somewhat tamer version of her Tiger Mother persona is the subject of my latest Pop Culture and Politics post.)
In her Journal essay, Chua tries to persuade readers that because her eldest daughter is now a college student (attending Harvard no less), she is “hands-off” and thinks of herself as pretty much done with child-rearing.
“When our kids go off to college, we want them to have the confidence, judgment and strength to take care of themselves,” Chua wrote in the Journal. “Even critics of my approach to parenting would probably concede that, after years of drilling and discipline, tiger cubs are good at focusing and getting their work done. If instilled early, these skills also help them to avoid the college-prep freak-out that traumatizes so many families.”
This is from the woman who wrote that when one of her daughters was 7, she made the child sit at the piano, with no breaks for food or the bathroom, for hours, until the kid mastered a piece. She was also the one who said that her kids weren’t allowed to “attend a sleepover, have a playdate, be in a school play . . . watch TV or play computer games, choose their own extracurricular activities, get any grade less than an A . . . play any instrument other than the piano or violin."
I, for one, don’t see a parent who had as much invested in her kids doing well and succeeding as Chua does, just turning that switch off if, for example, her daughter wanted to drop out of college, join the Peace Corps or start a rock band, and play the drums.