I heard about this book as a result of a conversation the pilot and I had one time on our way home from a recent road trip. I was lamenting the fact that while my parents absolutely gave me unconditional love and support, they didn’t necessarily push me to strongly pursue certain interests or hobbies. I took swimming lessons, was in choir, tried playing basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer, and ran track, was in the play, was involved in many (but never lead any) student organizations, played the flute (and actually made first chair at one point even though I couldn’t read music..ha), did 4-H for a few years, was a Girl Scout for a hot minute, and even dabbled in gymnastics, which is hilarious to my very un-flexible adult self. While this allowed me the opportunity to have a wide variety of experiences and learn a little bit about many different facets of life, it never provided me with the means to really excel at any particular thing. I was okay at singing, hustled in basketball, and completely stunk at softball and soccer. Again, I am grateful for all of these many diverse opportunities, but I do think that my life as an adult would be richer if I had seriously pursued just one of these many areas.
When I brought this up, the pilot suggested that I read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. In the memoir, Chua argues that too often Western parents, in trying to build up the self-esteem of their children, settle for mediocrity and therefore their children never rise to success. She adopted “Chinese parenting” with her two girls: absolutely strict, no-nonsense type of parenting. After this memoir came out in 2011, the media attacked Chua and many accused her of various forms of abuse. However, while some parts made me cringe with anger at her (refusing a birthday card from her young daughter because she considers it lackluster), other arguments she made had me internally nodding. I’m not planning to have children any time soon, but I can see where some of her parenting techniques could be, albeit exhausting, really meant to shape and mold children into the best versions of themselves they can be, thus providing them with as many opportunities as successful adults as possible.
I would definitely recommend this read, especially for parents-to-be. I do think we settle for mediocrity in our society, and I am just as guilty of that as anyone else. But I wonder if there isn’t a bit better of a way– a Chinese way, perhaps!