The Return of the Tiger Mom

The Tiger Mother is back in the news . . . because she’s peddling the paperback version of her controversial 2011 memoir, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.


And, despite all the criticism she’s received for her approach to parenting, she has said that if she had it to do all over again, she’d raise her daughters in the same way.


Remember last year when she burst into pop culture consciousness with her essay in The Wall Street Journal -- timed to be published when the hardcover version of her memoir was released - which outraged many with its description of how Yale Law School professor Amy Chua was raising her two daughters?


People were stunned to read that Chua’s daughters weren’t allowed to do a whole host of things including: “attend a sleepover, have a playdate, be in a school play, complain about not being 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.”


In the wake of her inflammatory op/ed - which suggested that her way was superior to a more empathetic, feelings-oriented child-rearing that’s currently in vogue -- and the book’s release, Chua was on the receiving end of some serious vitriol for bluntly describing herself as a demanding mother who once forced her then 7-year-old to sit at the piano and work on a piece for hours without a bathroom break or food until the kid nailed it. She’s the mom who admitted that she called her daughter “garbage” and said she’d rejected her then 4-year-old’s handmade birthday card because Chua said the kid hadn’t put any real effort into it.


“Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them,” she wrote in the Journal at the time. “If their child doesn’t get them, the Chinese parent assumes it’s because the child didn’t work hard enough. That’s why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child.”


Even if you agreed with the overall intellectual argument Chua was making - that children need to be held to higher standards and taught to work hard, instead of being lavished them with false, meaningless praise that won’t help them when they enter the real world - the methods in which Chua said she utilized to put her child-rearing philosophy into practice struck many folks, myself included, as chilling. If you went by what the media told us about her, she seemed like a caricature of a domineering mom that offspring flee in fairy tales.