Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is the sad, true story of an overbearing mother who dresses up her dictatorial, controlling, hateful ways under the banner of good Chinese education, while she fulminates against what she calls Western mothers whose laissez-faire approach, over-the-top praise, and bias towards child-centered choices are spoiling their children and causing them, horror, to miss being admitted to Yale or Harvard so their moms can gloat. Because that’s what’s important, right: allowing parents to brag to their friends that their kids got admitted to schools their friends’ children were not?
I would like to think that educating children is just a little more comprehensive than the return address on a fat envelope. And I cannot help but cringe as she castigates Western parents — if the reverse were to happen all manners of political correctness flags would go up, right? The good news is that this is not in any way a self-help books for parents, as the press seems to have made it to be, but rather the story of one family with just two daughters. One of them tolerates the treatment (barely) and the other completely, utterly rejects it from day one, and I was rooting for her to break out of her prison all along. She will be able to make her own way through the world, that one, having shaken off her crazed mother (so crazed that the grandmother, even more Chinese than the mother if that’s possible, cautions her daughter against going too far — Chinese education may be strict, but it’s not supposed to be hateful, apparently and thankfully!)