Amy Chua: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother book cover

I got this book from the library yesterday evening, and devoured it last night and this morning. It made an impact on me to say the least. But let me go a few steps back first.


I first learned of Amy Chua this fall when I heard her speech about Triple Package in the 2016 Nordic Business Forum. She kept referring to her first book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and how it had caused such a controversy, due to it being mistakenly understood in the media especially. I was intrigued, but did not take steps to get my hands on either book - until yesterday, Tiger Mom fell on my lap.


I just couldn't stop reading! The book to me was one of those books which open my eyes for worlds I did not know existed, which share a story that gives me ideas, motivation, provokes my thoughts. If you don't know the story, the book is basically a Chinese mother's memoir of bringing up two daughters using traditional Chinese methods, while living in the USA with a Western (Jewish) husband. Her methods seem harsh for many readers and that's where the controversy came from (she'd have them practice the piano hours per day, for example), and sure, I was a bit shocked a few times too, but I think people who only see the bad, shocking side of the methods and the book are closing their eyes on what they could perhaps learn themselves.


See, I don't have kids so perhaps I am seeing this from a different perspective, but the idea that kept coming to me while reading was: "How can I be my own tiger mom?" Basically the idea behind being a tiger mom is wanting to prepare your kids for the world and making sure they can succeed. Not survive, but succeed. This is done by the deep belief that children are strong and capable, not fragile and in need of protection from "the evil world". It's also done by meticulous drilling of skills which are believed to be useful in the future: maths, Chinese, classical music and instruments - but behind all that the skill of working hard and not giving up until you succeed and/or give it your true best. It's expecting a lot of your children and not taking mediocre for "good enough". And that is what I want for myself, too.


I was brought up with high expectations, but somehow in my adult years I have lost that burn to be the best. I've also started to believe I shouldn't be pushed too hard, and that mediocre really is good enough. The thing is, it isn't, not for me. I remember it one of my life anti-dreams - being mediocre. But the truth is, in many ares of my life I have become mediocre, which makes me really, really sad. That's why I am so excited and thankful that this book came into my life! I want to incorporate some tiger mom ideas into myself, so I can drive myself to better performances, reach more of my goals and become the person I want to be.


In my opinion, this book is not only a memoir (which it is supposed to be) and a peek into a life very different from mine, or a how-to-guide for drilling children (it was not supposed to be that anyway), but also book for self-reflection in (young) adults who find themselves wanting to do greater things but who end up on Facebook every time they start studying online. I at least am very thankful for the insight and motivation I've received and can't wait to read Amy's and her husband Jed's new book, the Triple Package soon.

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