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'Tiger mother' -- this year's Toyota

Amy Chua Blog

Amy Chua, a.k.a. "the Tiger Mother" of "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" bestselling-book fame, has created quite a stir with her paean to tough-love parenting.

Well, more accurately, she's created a stir among America's moms. America's dads are somewhat more focused on Da Bears vs. The Pack -- the ghosts of Halas and Lombardi, Ditka and Nitschke, and the present-day drama of  Rodgers vs. Urlacher -- playing like there's no tomorrow on frozen Soldier Field ...

But I digress.

Times columnist Meghan Daum weighed in on the contretemps this week. Her column attempts to look inside the author, to decipher the inner Chua.

Good for her, but here's what I think (in between thinking about Da Bears vs. The Pack, the ghosts of ... sorry, I digress again.)

Remember the late 1970s, when Americans became convinced that the Japanese knew everything about business, and especially carmaking? The gas crisis had cratered U.S. automakers' sales, while Japanese imports flew off the lots. 

American cars were terrible; Japanese cars were great; we were doomed unless we learned and adopted the ways of Japan. GM even entered into a venture with Toyota in the Bay Area, as if it had forgotten how to make cars.

Then came the minivan, birthed by Chrysler, and the SUV, by Ford and GM and Chrysler, and everyone -- including the Japanese -- followed us. 

Hmm, maybe Americans knew something about carmaking after all.

Now it's China, and parenting, apparently. Americans are seemingly obsessed with China. 

There's no shortage of commentary. Just this week in The Times, there was Jonah Goldberg's Op-Ed column, and the editorial board wrote about human rights issues in China.

 It's everywhere: Is China overtaking us?  Did you see that it has a stealth fighter? Notice how well the Chinese kids do academically?

Chua's book plays into this mood perfectly. It's a handbook for success, some say, like Sun Tzu's "The Art of War." It's terrible what she's done to her daughters, other say. (OK, the moms are saying that. The dads are saying, "I'll take The Pack and three points.")

I say: Calm down, moms of America. Americans have been raising kids for more than 200 years.  America's kids have grown up to do quite well, thank you. And I suspect that, Chinese-style parenting tips or not, that's not going to end.

Oh.  And I also say Da Bears will win, though I'm not sure about giving three points.


In the eye of the "Tiger"

Reader reaction to Amy Chua

What's behind our obsessive Amy Chua disorder?

-- Paul Whitefield

Photo: Amy Chua at the 2007 Texas Book Festival in Austin. Credit: Associated Press / Larry D. Moore


Comments () | Archives (8)

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good chinese mother

I am Chinese, and I am a mother. And that makes me a Chinese mother. Probably the reason why I got an invitation to join the local chapter of the Tiger Mother Club which is well-known for being an exclusive club for Chinese mothers.

Not really knowing much about the club, I was curious and decided to attend one of their coffee mornings. Well, aside from the the Chinese, there were Koreans, Japanese, Indians, and a lot of other mothers from Asia. And much to my surprise, I met many non-Asians, too. The blond and blue-eyed mothers.

The small talk reminded me too much of the things I did not like about my childhood, and I left early.

Guess I was not meant to be a member of the striped club.

Besides, although my daughter played The Carpenters beautifully on the piano, she can barely read music notes. There was no hope ever of her playing Chopin at Carnegie Hall. And having a daughter who did, was one of the requirements for membership.

Oh, well, I do like Karen and Richard very much.

BTW, she does have near-perfect SAT scores, and offers of admission from HYP, but please do not tell the Tiger Club. They might invite me again.



a big issue clouded by the controversy of this book is how the combination of education and parenting stimulate creativity in childhood development. after all, strict, "tiger-style" parenting alone does not automatically create successful, healthy kids that grow up to accomplish great things. in fact, there's plenty of evidence that shows the exact opposite. and, that is, the disfunctional, crazy, free-spirited upbringing of some kids is exactly what it takes to make them grow into outstanding individuals.

there are plenty of examples larger-than-life individuals in american society- from business creators to those in science to star athletes- that all grew up under parenting methods exactly the opposite of Amy Chua... just off the top of my head- steve jobs, patten & eli manning, bill gates, michael dell, larry ellison, paul allen etc. the list is endless...

so, if either one of Amy's daughters cures cancer, invents time travel, or changes the world in some astonishing way- we can then evaluate how true her claims are.

but, until then- just like everyone else- it's just a matter of opinion. and, you know what they say about opinions... everyone has one and they all stink.


Excellent blog post. As a (South) Asian, I think Amy Chua wrote an interesting if rather exaggerated book. I don't think either extreme (strict dictatorship or hippie kumbaya parenting) is good for children. Let's face it, discipline in childrearing has slipped away. I think there is some good to be learned from the Tiger Mom approach, but I don't really buy that it went down exactly as she presents in the book. Also, it's more about a worldview, than anything. In (traditional) Asian cultures, the parents actively mold children's lives in their totality. There is more of a culture of respect towards elders, especially one's own parents. Children can't raise their voices or contradict them, even as adults. Well, that's how the thinking goes. Who knows what happens in reality.

I think Amy Chua is obscuring the nuances of a complex situation, and making it seem like if you turn into Hitler with your kids, they'll turn out to be Harvard-educated geniuses. Not so.


You don't go Harvard to be educated -- you go there to network.

That said, there was an interesting article in the New Yorker about ten years ago that talked about a particular type of student applicant who was educated beyond his intelligence. Most of those had helicopter parents and most, wherever they went to school, showed little aptitude for academics, were in no way intellectual, and had capacity for nothing more than cunning. Since even Harvard needs money, there is the reason the school has become little more than a place with a brand to network.

Too bad.


Chua's 'memoir' is wrong on so many levels. As an educator, she should know better than to perpetuate the tired old stereotype of the clever Asian automaton. She claims to poke fun at herself, but it's a cheap laugh at the expense of Oriental/Asian parents and their children. She's just a banal AMERICAN mom hawking her banal AMERICAN story.


Watch Chua dig a hole for herself:


Russell Fish

This American dad says those traumatized American mothers shouldn't worry.

The grown up Chinese kid might give the grown up American kid a job.

Derrick Lin

I published a book in response to her. Its called "Tiger Mother Son of a Bitch". Lets see what she thinks of that.




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