Over the Holidays, one of many books that hit my lap was Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. It is a straightforward, how-to/how-not-to telling of a Chinese mother raising her Chinese daughters in the Western world and she was humbled by one of those young ladies. Fluidly written, it was a very quick read. I have to admit, when it comes to parenting I definitely tend to ere more on the side of ‘tiger’ than the average American ‘bear’ mother. While first and foremost I want to grow emotionally stable, God fearing kiddos, that know their parents love them. I also know that those same kiddos can be pushed to excel in ways that don’t seem possible.
For us, learning to read has been that challenge. Now–let me be clear–I don’t sit T down and force him to practice reading for hours on end every single day, but I do make him read on his own…and sometimes refuse to answer questions in regards to words when I know he is capable of sounding it out, but prefers to be told the answer. Amy shares how most of her peer mothers never understood why her daughters had no free time, and she was too worried/concerned about what and how they would react if those peers were to find out the reason there was no free time, was due to Amy’s parenting push for excellence, i.e every minute of every day scheduled in a productive manner.
There are several entertaining anecdotes within these pages, and again, let me emphasize, I’m not slave driver–nor do I believe Amy is. I think there are very different styles of parenting, that sometimes our minds fail to see outside of our national scope, that doesn’t make us better or worst. However, I do believe that my kids are capable of great things–and I think you believe that for your children as well. And while, I didn’t finish the book thinking–“Well, now T must practice violin for 3 hours a day, and reading for 2, etc, etc.” I did walk away feeling encouraged for teaching him diligence in areas that he wanted to walk away from, encouraged to push him a little harder when he feels discouraged because the victory and satisfaction in the success will teach him to strive. Point and case–the book I currently have him reading thru is a second grade reading level. He’s only been reading all together for about 10 weeks now. When he sat down and started reading this book a week ago, he was dreading it. But I knew, in my gut, he could tackle it. He’s half way thru the book now, only reading about three pages a day, but every day has become a little bit easier–and he’s proud of himself. <- That is what I’m excited for. He’s faced something that mentally he felt overwhelmed by, to struggle thru, and tear down those walls of doubt all on his own. He also, by choice, has taken on reading to his sister daily, a time they both cherish, and as he completes each book, I see the confidence growing.
From a Christian mom perspective, I think there is a lot of truth to Amy’s parenting. We have to be diligent, and push thru when it seems there is no hope. The difference is, we know there is a Hope that we have to cling to, and will thankfully keep our spirit guts in check. Our personal parenting style will not, and does not work for everyone, it can’t, because parenting should be unique to your children—and what works for one of them, doesn’t always work for both–Amy even discusses this in regards to her parenting style. I believe the reason I can push T, and eventually PZ, so ‘hard’ is because their foundation is in love and the heart of the Father—this is where Amy and I drastically differ. The Chinese parenting style she discusses only promotes praise and encouragement in the privacy of the home–never in public, and speaks very little to the emotional nurturing side of child rearing. I believe that it’s the solid emotional bonds of love and security, that allow me to push T, and why he still loves me and isn’t upset in the midst of us working thru something together–no matter how frustrated I get–which is my own personal battle.
Have you read Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it below. If not, definitely add it to your reading list. I may have finally been encouraged to write my own book, I’m thinking Squalor Song of the Psuedo Crunchy Tiger. Can I get an Amen?!