Wednesday, March 23, 2011
March Book Club
Our book this month was Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua.The book takes us on the journey of Amy raising her children the "Chinese Way" compared to the "Western Way".Throughout the book the reader is able to follow the sometimes painful mother daughter dynamic as Amy realizes no two daughters are the same and what worked with one is definitely not going to work with the other.As I expected this book promoted more discussion then a book we unanimously loved.Here is a brief example of what a Chinese mother believes..
"(1) schoolwork always comes first;(2) an A-minus is a bad grade;(3) your children must be two years ahead of their classmates in math;(4) you must never compliment your children in public;(5) if your child ever disagrees with a teacher or coach, you must always take the side of the teacher or coach;(6) the only activities your children should be permitted to do are those in which they can eventually win a medal; and (7) that medal must be gold."
Other things that go along with the previous are that Amy's children were never allowed to have play dates or sleepovers, movies, TV, computer games, be in a school play, choose their own extracurricular activities, not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama, or play any instrument other then the piano or violin.
The whole group felt this was way too extreme but I feel that most "Western" readers respond that way.Her manner of speaking to her children is what got to me the most. Telling her daughter she is "garbage" that she is "completely ordinary" "boring" those are things that really scar a child and don't just go away. Throughout the book Amy maintains that Chinese children grow up to love their parents and are grateful to them for the way they were raised.It isn't until the end of the book when Amy is facing some issues with her youngest daughter that she acknowledges her father didn't feel that way about his parents.I think it's the fear of losing her daughter that prompts her to change.
While these methods of raising her children brought some of us in the group to hate the author it also inspired some of us to become a little stricter with our children. While we all agreed that we will not be raising our children the "Chinese way" we also can see the failings of some of our "Western" ways. Are we raising a generation of entitled spoiled children that always expect praise?Is it really necessary to play sports where there is no losing team? When our children enter the workforce will they have the drive and tenacity to see things through?While Amy Chau's extreme type A personality and abrasive way of child raising are far from my own the book does make you take a second look at your own parenting style.
Our book for April is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. While it is another memoir (3 in a row) I have always enjoyed her writing and have heard so many good things about the book! Read along if you'd like.
Pétra (Creative Mom)