Hey ladies, it’s Gina again. For weeks I’ve been struggling with how to discipline my little twin rascals, Timothy and Frederick. The two just hit the terrible twos, and every minute with them makes me want to drop my $350 hair dryer into my $5,000 Jacuzzi with underwater lighting and soaker jets and just end it all!
That is, of course, until I found Miss Amy Chua’s groundbreaking parenting book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Never has such a comprehensive guide to “success oriented discipline” been released, not to mention to such a wide-ranged audience. Chua runs the gamut of what society considers “bad” parenting, including kicking her child out into the frozen winter and referring to her children as garbage.
The most iconic moment from the memoir comes during the infamous “Little White Donkey” practice narrative. In an attempt to get her daughter to learn the piano song, Chua employs starvation, withholding bathroom privileges, threats of losing future festivities like birthday parties, and intense name calling. It’s important to recognize Lulu’s excitement and ultimate happiness after learning the piece, despite the mountain of effort required to get there. Although a glance into her eyes would have revealed a desperate plea for help, Lulu’s words and physicality conveyed extreme jubilee to her mother, which is all that really matters.
Ever since I read this book, my outlook on parenting has changed dramatically. I have picked up a lot of Chua’s lines I found rousing, particularly my new favorite slogan “I deserve better than this. So I reject this” that she uses to criticize a birthday card from her daughter. I find myself whipping out this turn of phrase daily, altering it to fit my every need such as “I deserve better than four star food. So I reject this.” With each passing day, I find myself becoming even more Asian!
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the memoir, I found certain objection with the direction Chua takes towards its ending. There seems to be some sort of acknowledgment that parenting isn’t just brutality and torture to children, and that a certain flexibility can help during the developmental period no matter the ethnicity. That’s honestly a load of hooey to me! This strong woman takes a three sixty on her strong roots and lets this moment of weakness spoil her child into playing TENNIS. I mean…tennis? Winners play badminton.
I’d like to think that one of Chua’s inspirations comes from American psychologist John Watson, whose famous advice on parenting children included “Never hug and kiss them. Never let them sit in your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say goodnight.” The word “must” truly captures the essence of what I believe positive reinforcement should be for children, a slight concession to keep them from going over the edge and nothing more.
Ultimately, I think Amy, a white Republican mama like myself, is trying to convey the message that’s on all of our minds this election season, “Make America great again.” With all of the PC culture and liberal nonsense clouding our children’s minds, bad behavior is rewarded with a positive admiration instead of a good smack on the wrist. I remember back in my private school days a nun would smack me across the face with a ruler instead of asking me to “please stop using your inhaler during the rosary, I don’t care if you’re having an asthma attack.” Looking back on them now, those were some of the happiest days of my life.
My overall rating for Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is 9/10. It lost a point simply because I couldn’t understand that Asian gibberish on the front cover. I mean, come on. This is America, speak English!
Alex has an honorary doctorate from the Kim Dan Institute of Higher Learning in Book Reviews. He is also working on becoming ordained as a minister online.