Tiger mother and parenting lessons

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Amy Chua's Hymn of the Tiger Mother relates the story of a Chinese mother struggling to teach her children the best way she can. Written in the first person, it tells how Chua, the poet, is going to raise her two daughters, Sophia and Louisa, nicknamed Lulu. Believing firmly that her key responsibility as a parent is to provide her daughters with the requisite discipline, ability, and experience to live in a difficult world, she sets very strict guidelines for them to grow up. She forbids them from attending sleepovers at friends’ homes, from participating in school plays, and demands that they get nothing less that grade A in school. When the children are still young, she chooses music instruments for them to play and takes it upon herself to ensure that they learn how to play these instruments to the best of their abilities. However, her strict rules are the cause of increased antagonism between her and her daughters, especially Lulu who often attempts to break from her mother overbearing grip. The book brings to the core the glaring differences between Chinese and Western parenting methods. While her methods may seem harsh and sometimes even a bit cruel to the Westerner, in her Chinese culture they are perfectly normal. This paper examines the parenting skills of the tiger mother and attempts to determine ways in which are parenting methods may have been either helpful or detrimental to her children’s development and growth.

Despite obvious flaws in her parenting methods, Chua achieves success in preparing her daughters for a brighter future in the way that she dedicates much of her time and effort in their upbringing. She chooses music instruments for them to learn how to play at a young age and instills proper discipline for measures for them to adhere to from their younger years. This helps in ensuring that the right skills are learned and internalized from the onset of their childhood, ensuring that they internalize them and make them a part of their character. However, despite the good intentions of these actions and the possible success that these will help them achieve in the future, her strict, and sometimes cruel methods may be detrimental to her daughters’ general development. When they do not achieve what she expects of them, she uses harsh words to express her disappointment, often calling them stupid and worthless as is seen on pages 51 and 52 of the book. She is shouts and screams insults at them at times when she feels frustrated by their purportedly dismal performances. Often, she engages in shouting and screaming contests with her younger daughter Lulu over her violin lessons. While she has her daughters’ best interests at heart, her methods maybe more harmful in the long run than she anticipates. Shout and screaming at children, insulting and demeaning them for unsatisfactory performance often affects their self-esteem negatively and affects their confidence in trying new things as they fear this would only elicit disapproval. Perhaps a better way would be to engage the children in somber and candid conversation to understand the reasons for their dismal performances and attempt to come with solutions for the challenges that they face.

The fact that she places great importance on her daughters’ academic performance is an effective parenting method as it shows that she has a daughters’ bets interests at heart. She pushes them to achieve to the best of their potential, even though it might be argued that the goals she has set for them are too high. She is a committed parent, spending long hours with her daughters practicing the piano for Sophia and the violin for Lulu. One day, when Lulu was practicing playing the “Little White Donkey, ” and she wanted to give up because she felt that she would never get it right, Chua spent the entire night helping her practice and ensured that she did not give up. Eventually, she played the tune perfectly and exclaimed, “Mummy look – it’s easy” (Chua 62). Chua’s encouragement and faith in Lulu’s ability with the violin help her achieve her full potential and overcome a huddle from which she would have given up had it not been for her. Setting high standards for her children and standing firm in her insistence that they achieve them is an effective method as it pushes them to do their very best in order not to disappoint her. As an effect, they end up benefitting by bettering their skills and attaining good grades at school, all which are certain to prove immensely useful for the, later in life. At the time when she stubbornly insisted that Lulu keeps practicing her violin throughout the night, holding that she would eventually get right, her method worked effectively as she achieved her goal eventually. Lulu benefitted from the whole process the most as is shown by the elated exclamation that the tune that had so troubled her was indeed easy. The feeling of achievement served as a motivation and atoned for all the hours she had spent practicing under the strict supervision of her mother.

Children naturally have short attention spans and are easy to give up on their attempts at activities that pose challenges to them. Parents have a responsibility to ensure that their children feel challenged and help them try their best rather than give up in the face of the slightest challenge. Chua shows this by refusing to allow her daughter to give up and going over and above to ensure that she gets the tune right, even when this meant spending an entire night practicing with her. She also shows this by the way she insists that her children attain no lower grade than an A in school, pushing them to work hard in school to reach this target. My mother taught me these virtues in the years when I was growing as a kid. She would never allow me or my brothers to leave the house to play with our friends before we had done all our homework and she had reviewed it with us. Often, she would spend long hours with us during the night to help us prepare for tests and exams even when she had to wake up early the following day. Such commitment to one’s children’s goals is important in helping them dedicate their time and energy to achieve the goals they set for themselves later in life. It also sets a good example, showing them that it is never to quit on one’s goals and aspirations, despite the circumstance or difficulties that one faces.


Chua, A. (2011). Battle hymn of the tiger mother (1st ed.). London: Bloomsbury.

October 12, 2022

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Book Review Mother Children

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