Monday, December 10, 2012

My reflection after reading "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother"

I just finished reading "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother". This is not a book review, there are enough reviews already. This is much more personal in nature. My reasons for reading book and what I got out of it.

I picked up the book because for last few years, I became more and more like my Chinese parents in my parenting style. I also remember that as a kid, I vowed that I would NEVER do what my parents did to me when I was a kid. However, patterns have a way of repeating itself. Along came, Amy Chua, an accomplished person set out to raise accomplished children. I wondered for the longest time, torn between, wanting to read this for parenting tips or disavowing it because I don't want to be a Tiger Dad. But the simple truth is that we naturally repeat the patterns that we have been given, unless a vast and conscious effort is applied to CHANGE. I thought, I must read this book to see how can "Chinese parenting" really succeed or if not, how can I become my own change agent to become a better parent.

In order to change, a goal must be clearly defined. Until I can clearly articulate the type of parent that I want to be, I can't succeed. I admired Amy Chua because she was unapologetically clear about what kind of parent she wanted to be. It's easy to criticize, but I haven't met any parent who is as clear about their style or purpose as Ms Chua. All the parents I have met say ambiguous things like "Just teach them right and wrong", "I just want them to be happy", or "I just want them to be a good (productive, honest, hard working, etc) person". For right or for wrong, Ms Chua was clear in her goals, purposes, objectives and she did everything in her power to move that way. When the battle was lost, she had the grace to retreat.

I don't feel that I got any useful parenting tips or deep insights about what kind of parent that I want to be. In the end, I realized that, selfishly, my happiness is as important is my children's. My happiness would be enjoying my time with them but also seeing them grow up and be more successful and happier than me. The "Chinese way" seems to dictate these are opposing roads, parents must pick one or the other, and that the end justifies the means. After reading the book, I confirms that I must search for my own middle road. Beyond the taskmaster of the Chinese parenting, beyond the positive hopefulness of the American parenting. Somehow, I will blend these two seemingly opposite paradigms. 

Ms Chua admitted as much at the end of the book, for her, these are two opposing paradigm. I still holding out of the hope there is a path where I can be loving, affirming, disciplining, taskmaster, and drill sergeant that can inspire and prepare my children to have chances for the best possible future outcome.

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