Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Tiger Mom Addresses Parents in D.C.

The Tiger Mom, Amy Chua, addressed a standing-room-only crowd on Friday night at local D.C. bookstore Politics & Prose. Washington is well-known for its reputation for competitive parenting, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by the turn-out. A few young children and tweens were in attendance with their parents, but the crowd was ninety-percent adults.

Ms. Chua read from selected sections of her book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother", and took a few questions from the audience. Unfortunately, we did not get an opportunity to ask about her reaction to a "Race to Nowhere".

Here are a few takeaways from the evening:
  • One audience member commented that as a Latina parent of three now-grown children, Chinese mothers do not have a monopoly on high standards and strict parenting. She spoke of her experience in raising her very successful children and the hands-on parenting style she employed. She asked the author, "While I agree with many of your philosophies, I have to ask: have you thought about seeking psychological help?" Ms. Chua replied that she hadn't.
  • When asked how her daughters have responded to the book's publication, Ms. Chua said that they have been incredibly supportive from the start and forward her the positive comments - "what little they find" [Blogger's note: these are her words, not mine)]
  • The author also said that her own daughters have told her that they plan to raise their own children strictly as well but will be more socially permissive (allowing playdates, sleepovers, etc.).
  • One audience member was openly hostile to the author and asked if she was aware that the suicide rate was the highest amongst Asian-American young women and that these deaths are caused by the intense performance pressures these young women feel. Ms. Chua responded that she was aware of the statistic, but that she never positioned herself or the book as a child psychology how-to. Rather, she says that her book "should be read as a memoir and as a "don't try this at home" as opposed to a parenting how-to".
  • When asked, "If she had to do it all again, would she do anything differently?" The author responded that she would do the same thing but would pay more attention to her youngest daughter's (Lou Lou) requests to quit the violin earlier so avoid the dramatic glass-throwing scene.
  • In terms of the book's reaction, Ms. Chua said that she wished the book was "reviewed more for its literary style and quality of the writing" than as a parenting tome. She compares herself more to a David Sedaris than a Dr. Spock.
Did you attend the book talk? What questions do you have of the Tiger Mom?

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