Book and Product Reviews

Amy Chua Tiger Mother or Piranha?

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Controversy is raging over Amy Chua's parenting methods, which she writes about in her new book, " Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother."  The book has stirred up a bee's nest of angry comments more than 200,000 strong.

In the book, Chua writes that she forbid playdates, sleepovers, and two hours a day of instrument practice. In one instance she threatened to burn her daughter's stuffed animal if she continued refusing to practice her instrument. At other points she withheld food, water, and rest from her young children in order to push them to practice more.

Chua herself states she never meant for the book to be a parenting manual. She argues that it is memoir, where she has chosen to share the struggles and triumphs of a Chinese-American mother. Some  readers have praised the Tiger Mother, arguing that "Chua shows great courage in exposing herself with her flaws, doubts, regrets and mistakes," adding that the book follows the journey Chua went through, reconciling her own upbringing, changing course with her parenting, disagreeing with her husband about how the children should be raised, and grappling with the doubts she had about whether or not she was doing the right thing."

Others criticize her for her slavish insistence on perfection and success. One person commented, "Ms. Chua has not only used, and abused, her children, but then proudly proclaimed herself "correct." Another writes, "it's devastating to hear her brutal honesty as she relates escalating emotional and verbal abuse (she does not label it as such, but clearly it is) while her husband and parents plead with her to STOP."

At the very least, perhaps this book is worth reading for the kinds of issues it raises: What does it mean to be successful? How do you strike a balance between discipline and play when you have a talented child? How do you preserve the magic of childhood but still make sure your kids will have all the skills they need to be successful adults? When are you pushing your kids not for their benefit but to meet your own needs?

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