• attend a sleepover
• have a playdate
• be in a school play
• complain about not being in a school play
• watch TV or play computer games
• choose their own extracurricular activities
• get any grade less than an A
• not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
• play any instrument other than the piano or violin
• not play the piano or violin.
These are a few of the things Amy Chua didn't let her kids do. The rules are from Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua - another controversial mothering book. Just from reading the snippets, it seems to present an idea of a generic "strict immigrant" approach to parenting. It also ties in to ideas of what it is to be Chinese in the Chinese diaspora and a smash and grab title that wraps two nationalist cliches in one.Chua was born in the Philippines and moved to the US when she was 2 months old
The book is also an example of incredibly astute marketing where an extreme is presented as the way forward with no alternative permitted - Sarah Palin with a law degree. And rather than being Chinese, it is Anglophone and North American, slick soundbite-marketing which does rather more than it sells itself on. Chua is having it both ways, which is something that artists and photographers do almost without exception - some lessons for us all there..
The following is an extract from the Guardian interview.She relents eventually and the kids do other stuff as well but let's pretend she's as horrible as she sounds for a minute, and that all parents of East Asian background are like this.
Amy Chua was in a restaurant, celebrating her birthday with her husband and daughters, Sophia, seven, and Lulu, four. "Lulu handed me her 'surprise', which turned out to be a card," writes Chua in her explosive new memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. "More accurately, it was a piece of paper folded crookedly in half, with a big happy face on the front. Inside, 'Happy Birthday, Mummy! Love, Lulu' was scrawled in crayon above another happy face. I gave the card back to Lulu. 'I don't want this,' I said. 'I want a better one – one that you've put some thought and effort into. I have a special box, where I keep all my cards from you and Sophia, and this one can't go in there.' I grabbed the card again and flipped it over. I pulled out a pen and scrawled 'Happy Birthday Lulu Whoopee!' I added a big sour face. … 'I reject this.'"
Listen to Chua on Radio 4 here.
Read the Guardian article here
Read the New York Times article here.
WSJ extract here and blog responses