Wednesday, February 2, 2011

More on the Tiger Mother

Not being a parent myself, I can't really offer an informed opinion on whether Amy Chua's parenting technique is a good one. However, two things she says in her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother make me think she understands children quite well. These are the things:

1) Sleepovers (which Ms. Chua prohibits her daughters from attending) are most often essentially a group of unsupervised children who taunt and exclude each other all night and, contrary to popular Western parental belief, are actually not that much fun.

2) Her daughter Sophia is, according to Ms. Chua, able to withstand humiliation and loneliness better than practically anyone.

I don't know whether this quality of Sophia's was fostered by her strict upbringing, but it is an excellent quality indeed, and Ms. Chua is right to admire it. It seems to me that what Ms. Chua is doing with her daughters, more than attempting to produce extremely high achievers, is attempting to shield them from the overwhelming trauma and loneliness of childhood. I don't know whether this is actually possible, but at least Ms. Chua is aware of this thing, the trauma and loneliness of childhood.

I can commend my Jewish mother on also being aware of it, and on having her own special approach to sleepovers. While she let me go to them, she hung around in the living room of the house where the sleepover was taking place making chitchat with the mother who was hosting the thing for several hours after dropping me off, then called the house every 20 minutes thereafter to make sure I was having a good time. Being quite the opposite of Sophia, I would have to say that Amy Chua's assessment of sleepovers is absolutely correct.


  1. I get the sense that sleepovers for little girls must be pretty different than sleepovers for little boys. I had plenty of sleepovers as a kid, and we just played video games and ate chips all night long until we eventually passed out. I never felt excluded. But perhaps this is a just a symptom of a larger difference between girl-girl relationships and boy-boy relationships.

  2. Hm, I guess we tend to prefer the kind of games that occur in real life.

  3. Those kinds of games don't seem like they'd be as fun as Mario Kart.

  4. Probably not. Although I'm an original Nintendo person myself.

  5. Did you ever play Mario 2-players, and then, when the other player was in the middle of jumping over a pit, used your controller to pause the game? Then, when they turn to yell at you, you unpause the game, causing them to plunge to their death. Oh man, great prank.

  6. No, I never thought of doing that. But if I ever play against you, watch out 'cause I'll be doing it every two seconds.

  7. If you do that, then I won't tell you how to get to the minus world.