A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what Chinese parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it… Amy Chua
Amy Chua’s daughters, Sophia and Louisa (Lulu) were polite, interesting and helpful, they were two years ahead of their classmates in maths and had exceptional musical abilities. But Sophia and Lulu were never allowed to attend a sleepover, be in a school play, choose their own extracurricular activities, get any grade less than an A, and not be the #1 student in every subject (except gym and drama). And they had to practise their instruments for hours every day, as well as in school breaks and on family holidays.
The Chinese-parenting model certainly seemed to produce results. But what happens when you do not tolerate disobedience and are confronted by a screaming child who would sooner freeze outside in the cold than be forced to play the piano?
In Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua relates her experiences raising her children the ‘Chinese way’, and how dutiful, patient Sophia flourished under the regime and how tenacious, hot-tempered Lulu rebelled. It is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs. It’s also about Mozart and Mendelssohn, the piano and the violin, and how they made it to Carnegie Hall.
It was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones. But instead, it’s about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how you can be humbled by a thirteen-year-old.
About Amy Chua
Amy Chua is the John M. Duff Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Her first book World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability was a New York Times bestseller, was selected by both the Economist and the Guardian as one of the Best Books of 2003 and translated into eight languages. Her second book, Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance – and Why They Fall was a critically acclaimed Foreign Affairs bestseller.
Amy Chua has appeared frequently on radio and television on programs such CNN Headline News, C-Span, The Lehrer News Hour, Bloomberg Television, and Air America. Her writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, and the Wilson Quarterly. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and two Samoyeds in New Haven, Connecticut.