Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a book written by Amy Chua, a Chinese-American Professor of Law at Yale University. Chua outlines the severe regime she imposed on her two daughters, Lulu and Sophia, to ensure their academic success, a strategy she attributes to her own upbringing as a second-generation immigrant.
 Tiger mothering
Among other things, her daughters were not allowed to watch TV, play computer games, host/go on playdates or sleepovers, appear in school plays, get any grade less than an A, not be the no. 1 student in any subject except drama and gym, choose their extracurricular activities, play any musical instrument aside from the piano or violin, or refrain from playing either of those instruments. On one occasion, she called one of her daughters "garbage." On another, Chua rejected a handmade card one of her daughers made her for Mother's Day on the grounds that it wasn't good enough. On still another, she threatened to burn her daughter's stuffed toys if she could not master a piano piece, and made her practice it dozens of times into the night, refusing to even allow her to go to the bathroom. That sounds ghastly, but hey, at least she didn't beat her daughter to death with a pipe for mispronouncing a word.
On January 8, 2011, the Wall Street Journal published the core of the books' argument, under the heading "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior." A predictable firestorm of controversy erupted. Left and right, people exclaimed, "No, my own mother was not like this, not all Asian parents are like this!" and "Chua has no right to speak for all Chinese parents!" and so on. Chua received death threats. There were also, of course, those who defended her, claiming an antithesis to the American style of parenting in which kids are unceremoniously plonked in front of the TV for hours is just what we need. Chua has gone on to say that the book is not so much a how-to manual as a self-reflective, self-deprecative memoir, and her daughter has defended her, saying that much in the book that sounds harsh was not really as bad in real-life.
It is possible, of course, that the events in the book are partially or entirely made-up and that Chua's intention was merely to make some money and garner some attention by pandering to westerners' worst stereotypes of East Asians. If such is the case, she has certainly succeeded.
Jeremiads of child-rearing have been a regular feature in publishing for almost as long as books have existed. But in American society, the discussion has become increasingly urgent. The very next year after the publication of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, author Pamela Druckerman produced Bringing Up Bébé, another story of alternate parenting that has produced excellent results from almost the opposite approach (an imitation of French parenting that might be labeled "tactical neglect"). And these are merely the most recent and highest-profile efforts to solve a dilemma aptly summed by columnist Elizabeth Kolbert:
“”With the exception of the imperial offspring of the Ming dynasty and the dauphins of pre-Revolutionary France, contemporary American kids may represent the most indulged young people in the history of the world. [...] So little is expected of kids that even adolescents may not know how to operate the many labor-saving devices their homes are filled with. Their incompetence begets exasperation, which results in still less being asked for them.
In Battle Hymn, Chua accurately points out that the children of Asian immigrants are unusually successful, statistically speaking. As noted in recent polling by the Pew Research Group, "Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States." The crux of the matter is whether or not this success is a matter of culture and circumstance, or comes from the harsh expectations and methods to which Chua ascribes the success. And of course, always present — though unspoken — are the implications of race that always arise when any large ethnic group is ascribed a specific set of traits.