Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

The real hymn of the tiger mother

By Amy Chua (China Daily) Updated: 2011-06-03 08:01

The real hymn of the tiger mother

My book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, published six months ago, sparked a worldwide controversy turning my life upside down. For a while, I was getting 500 emails a day. Some were vicious, but many others were extremely positive and inspiring. The book is being translated into 30 languages - so how best to raise our children is something that worries every parent, no matter which part of the world they are from.

Related readings:
The real hymn of the tiger mother Aftermath of Tiger Mother
The real hymn of the tiger mother 'Tiger Moms' popular in China
The real hymn of the tiger mother Do 'Tiger Moms' make the best parents?

Much of the intense reaction to my book was based on a misunderstanding. Two days before publication, the Wall Street Journal published an excerpt from my book under the headline "Why Chinese mothers are superior" - a headline I did not give and do not agree with. I believe there are many ways of being a good parent, and much depends on the personality of the child in question.

I myself was raised by extremely strict - but also extremely loving - Chinese parents, who arrived in the United States in 1960 as poor graduate students. My parents were very tough with my three sisters and me.

Today, however, I adore my parents and feel utterly grateful to them. I realize how much they always believed in me and how much they sacrificed for me. They gave me extraordinary opportunities - I went to Harvard, and I love my job as a Yale law professor - and made me proud of Chinese culture and values.

That's why I tried to raise my two daughters the same way. But it wasn't easy. I was in the US, where parenting attitudes are very different. In the US, raising an "obedient" (guai) child is seen as negative and two hours of violin practice is considered abusive by many.

With my elder daughter, Sophia, things went smoothly. But then came my second daughter, Lulu, and I learned my lesson the hard way. Lulu was born with a fiery personality, and at 13, she rebelled. After one terrible fight, I realized I was in danger of losing Lulu forever. So I changed, not completely, though - I refused to compromise on academic excellence and other things. But I let Lulu give up the violin to play tennis instead, and I allowed her to follow her own passions.

Ironically, compared with many parents in China, I might not even be considered very strict. My husband is Jewish-American, and he always insisted that my daughters got a lot of fun and freedom. My book is not a parenting guide but a memoir - the story of my own search as a mother to find a balance between the best of Eastern and Western cultures.

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Most Viewed Today's Top News
New type of urbanization is in the details