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An Analysis of "the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mothering"

Updated on July 3, 2017

After analyzing Amy Chua’s form of parenting, I can say that she was deeply concerned on the welfare and discipline of her children. Further, the action can also be considered as being grounded on love for her children whom she wanted to excel in life. However, she seems to be ignorant on many facts, such as that each child is endowed with different talents and capabilities and also at different levels. Her way of conduct therefore reduced children to some machines or animals since she was training them to reach certain standard. What is more, she also seems not to be aware of the psychological effects which her parental approach could cause on her children. Lau and Fung 71 explain that though tiger parenting may seem to work, it causes an immense psychological harm to the children under question. These sentiments are supported by a study conducted by Wang et al, which established that children reared under tiger parenting developed issues ranging from relationship problems, self esteem, behavioral issues and psychiatric disorders. The study went on to suggest the importance of balancing between being strict on the success of children and showing them love. Another study by Chang et al (2007) also established that Chinese students where majority are reared under tiger parenting have a tendency of isolating themselves from their own communities as well as other communities. The study further noted that the self esteem of these children were also affected as they considered themselves failures if they did not meet the expectations of their parents and their immediate society.

The parental styles mostly employed among East Asian parents are that of being pushy. Further, the parenting also tends to be strict and demanding with an emphasis on effort as the key ingredient of success. The Chinese have a strong belief that children should be thoroughly prepared from their early age through instilling in them inner confidence, skills and work habits (Lonie 39). This is the same strategy employed by Chua and which she describes in her book “Tiger Parenting”.

In my view, tiger parenting is bad for the children since it denies them an opportunity to choose what they want to do, causing a rift between their parents/caregivers and themselves and worse still interfering with their emotional wellbeing. Despite existence of studies indicating the success of children raised through tiger parenting as the case of Chua, there is also a number of evidence indicating the success of Western approach in parenting and the success of children raised through this approach. Therefore, the Chinese parenting system cannot be said to be superior to that of the Western type when we measure them through the impact or consequences thereof.

Values Emphasized in the Asian American Families

According to Chua, there are differences of child socialization practices among the different generations of Asian Americans. For instance, while there were those who emphasized on stressing for success of their children while there were those who provided their children with liberty and choose to participate in games they liked (Chua). A study by Lee et al noted a consistent intergenerational cultural dissonance between parents of immigrant families and their children. This clash as observed by Waters et al (1171) occurred so frequently among these families to the extent that it was considered as a normative experience. While majority of immigrant parent adhere to their conventional cultural beliefs, their children are increasingly endorsing Western values, leading into this clash. This therefore points to a need for Asian American parents to review the system of parenting they deploy to avoid these consistent clashing with their children.

According to Chua, her styles of parenting were derived from her own parents who also raised them to achieve specific goals. Similar to Chua, the parents also wanted her to be successful and would do everything including offering advice and guidance to ensure that they achieve that success. The difference was that Chua’s parents had a preference for white collar jobs as ideal professions in contrasts to Chua who did not have problems with careers such as acting or drama (13).

Evidence of generational decline as articulated by Chua is evident. For instance, today’s children find it hard to embrace values that were considered normal by their grandparents and even parents. Asian-American youth for instance are increasingly embracing western values and behavior while gradually discarding their traditional ones since they consider them to be superior than theirs(Wei 23). From my experience, I find a divergent of values and behaviors among children from my childhood to my current age. A good example is the issue of marriage where parents had a significant say on who their child wanted to marry. However, today, it is not unusual for parents to be told of marriage involving their children after they have started living together. There are also what is considered as “children’s rights” whereby; children are supposed to do what they want in life and not be forced to do something.

Validation of Chua’s philosophy

Chua had always wanted the best out of her daughters and that the reason why she had wanted a music career for her children was because of the “uncontrollable urge” which she felt for her daughters to own music instruments. This explains why she bargained for the more costly and pricy violin for Lulu, her daughter.

Lulu’s teacher, Mrs. Vamos was quite transparent regarding her values and thoughts. For instance, once Lulu and her mother arrive at her studio, she openly explains that she does not like Viotti 23 because according to her it is boring apart from lacking impressiveness and power. She also informs Lulu that she was far behind the required technique of playing the violin, as well as other weakness (10). The direct approach which Western mothers could find obscene resonates well with Chua’s who at some time records to have called her daughter “garbage” and claiming that this was a way of motivating her and making her pull up her socks! However, the best way in which children can be motivated is through positive remarks, praise and experiences. Making negative remarks according to this study only demoralizes children as well as negatively affecting their self esteem (Lau, and Fung 82). This state is confirmed by Zhou and Gatewood who noted that most Asian-American youth are grappling with the issue of self identity and esteem. This confusion of self identity is brought by the desire to fit in the society and attain the socio-economic level of the prevalent society which in real sense is a difficult endeavor (125). These sentiments are equally shared by Wu (246) who also noted that Asian Americans in the United States are struggling with the issues of self identity by wanting to reach the socio-economic level of the whites. However, by living with these struggles, they fail to recognize that each culture is unique on its own and has certain capabilities/strengths that may not be harbored by another.

Literature points out that tiger form of parenting may not be effective in many non-Asian communities (Chang et al). This proved to be quite true for my case since despite my mother’s assertion that I should be a teacher, I went against her wishes to become an artist. Being an artist was my first talent and there was no way I could go against it by choosing another career. So I think that Chua’s model may not work in non-Asian communities.

Success

In Amy Chua’s book, Chia believes that a dose of criticism and high expectations makes children to work hard, develop a sense of competency and mastery. She claims that giving children liberty to do what they feel and praising them is reflection of a fragile self-esteem. Interestingly, Lulu, who is Chua’s daughter, expresses unhappiness because of the high expectations and tight schedule and she at some point rebels against her mother. This again confirms the validity of the findings by Wang et al which established that children raised under harsh conditions find it hard to adjust in their social settings, establishing relationships. Similarly, Kibria (84) noted in his study that many Asian American youth employ copying strategies such as social withdrawal, misidentification, problem avoidance and even distancing themselves from their ethnic groupings.

For my case, I would not wish to have a mother like Chua because I would not want to be forced to do what is against my interests. I also try to think that Chua’s children would adjust how they raise their own children considering how particularly Lulu occasionally rebelled against her mother’s style of guidance.

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