The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
This controversial memoir of a Chinese-American mother provides a thought-provoking view on what we assume to be true about parenting.
Price: R218.41

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What we thought:

When an extract from Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother appeared in the New York Times, a controversy broke out. Parents objected to author Amy Chua's overt criticism of the accepted child-centric Western parenting style, and some of her actions were slated as being borderline child abuse.

Some scenes in the book are rather shocking. Such as when she shuts her 3-year-old outside when she refuses to play the piano nicely. And when she admits to calling the same daughter 'lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic' during a marathon piano practice session, in which she won't even let the child go to the toilet.

Yet Chua doesn't come across as a completely unsympathetic character. There's no doubt she wants the best for her daughters, and that they are amazingly accomplished in the areas she chooses them to work at: schoolwork and music. As the story unfolds, she begins to bend to the incredibly strong will of her younger daughter. And we all cheer when she allows the daughter to choose her own hobby, tennis. (Although even then Chua is incredibly involved and domineering, or tries to be.)

While few of us would want to emulate the harshness of Chua's approach, there's no denying she has got a point about how laissez-faire parenting can actually just be an excuse for plain laziness. And it's questionable whether most of us would ever dare be this honest about what goes on behind closed doors with our children.

Brilliantly written, this is well worth reading, if only for the questions it will raise about your own parenting choices.

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