Amy Chua with daughters Tiger Mom JadeLuckClub Jade Luck club Tiger Parenting

A Gratuitous Self Promotion from Tiger Mom Amy Chua

Tiger Parenting

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua*



1. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
2. a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
3. a literary genre comprising such compositions.

Maybe this is the satire Chua is referring to in her book. (Yes, I read the book and it’s just a longer version of the Wall Street Journal article, though Chua claims otherwise.)

Here’s a question I often get: “But Amy, let me ask you this. Who are you  doing all this pushing for — your daughters” — and there’s always a cocked head, the knowing tone — “or yourself?” My answer, I’m pretty sure, is that everything I do is unequivocally 100% for my daughters.

“Your daughters are amazing,” [mom Elizabeth] said. In the old days, I would have said modestly, “Oh, they’re really not that good,” hoping desperately that she’d ask me more so I could tell her about Sophia’s and Lulu’s latest music accomplishments.” …

“Aren’t you glad I made you play the ‘Hebrew Melody’?” I asked her. Lulu seemed happy, but not particularly warm towards me. “Yes, Mommy,” she said. “You can take the credit.”

Lulu snapped back, “You’re a show-off. It’s all about you…”

Had I perhaps just chosen the wrong activity for Lulu? Tennis was very respectable — it wasn’t like bowling.  …

Lulu overheard me one day. “What are you doing?” she demanded. When I explained that I was just doing a little research, she suddenly got furious. “No, Mommy – no!” she said fiercely, “Don’t wreck tennis for me like you wrecked violin.” …

Sometimes, when Lulu’s least expecting it — at breakfast or when I’m saying good night — I’ll suddenly yell out, “More rotation on the swing volley! or “Don’t move your right foot on your kick serve!” And Lulu will plug her ears, and we’ll fight but I’ll have gotten my message out, and I know she knows I’m right.

Chua says her book is satirical. Many think this her way of backpedaling — death threats can do that — but the satire she exposes of her own parenting is like the “virtuous circle” she likes to refer to but can also be described as “different activity, same old shit.” At least that is what her own words seem to indicate. Do you think she is making “fun of herself?” Hardly, right? She’s comes off as so smug.

Amy Chua with daughters Tiger Mom JadeLuckClub Jade Luck club Tiger ParentingErin Patrice O’Brien for The Wall Street Journal
Amy Chua with her daughters, Sophia and Louisa.
Tiger Mom Amy Chua chirps in on the anniversary of her book in an attempt to reposition her book as a feel good satire that was meant to be funny. This is the thing about Amy Chua, I don’t know what to believe about her. She’s the queen of backpedaling, avoiding self-reflection, and a tireless self-promoter. If she didn’t have all those Ivy League degrees, she’d make a great grifter!
Seriously, does her book use irony, ridicule to expose her parenting folly? After reading her book, I got the sense that she is quite smug about her approach, particularly those piles of papers detailing to her children how to play every note of their music pieces. Does she really have regrets? Does she really think that her career choices were limited to medical school versus law school after graduating from Harvard or was this the path of least resistance? Risk is not an option if failure is not embraced.
Imagination Soup has been posting a series on Convergent versus Divergent Thinking. Amy Chua clearly falls under Convergent Thinking and that’s very sad to me but fully explains her life choices including her parenting style. “Dammit, Lulu, color WITHIN THE LINES!”
This is the true satire to me: Tiger Daughter Tiger Sophia‘s acceptance to Yale and Harvard. A result of her “successful” Tiger parenting model OR due to the fact that both parents work as professors at Yale, and Sophia is a legacy applicant many times over. Her mother went to Harvard and Harvard Law School. Her dad went to Harvard Law School. Both her aunts went to Harvard. Of course, the bigger question is what her kids do with their lives. Will they take the path of least resistance or will they finally be able to take enough risks to actually fail.I wonder if Amy Chua thinks her career is an enviable one. What do you think? If she had a Tiger Mom, she’d be asked why she’s not the president of an Ivy League college yet or on the Supreme Court orbat least nominated for the Supreme Court or on a short list for either the President of a prestigious college or the Supreme Court.
Also, what do you think of Amy Chua’s video clip? Does she come of as likeable or fake? I’m leaning towards the latter. Maybe her parents should have let her have a few play dates growing up to get some social skills. Maybe I’m too harsh? Please vote!
*Her hardcover book is now discounted from $25 to $16.77 at Amazon.
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4 thoughts on “A Gratuitous Self Promotion from Tiger Mom Amy Chua”

  1. Lisa C., M.D. •

    I’m so glad to have discovered your blog, Mia!

    Hard to believe it was a whole year ago when the Amy Chua thing blew up and took over the media for that brief blast of time. I did meet her whole family in person at a sparsely attended, impromptu book signing in Menlo Park, California. At that time, I also posted a video review of the book, which she links to her on her site.

    In response to your question, “Does she really think that her career choices were limited to medical school versus law school after graduating from Harvard…?”, I actually found that to be one of the funniest, laugh-out-loud lines in the book. “I chose law school because I didn’t want to go to medical school.”

    I also did the Harvard thing, and I honestly bought into my parents’ story that I would “never get a decent job with just an undergraduate degree”, never mind that it was from Harvard. I remember sheepishly sneaking into “recruiting” sessions at the Office of Career Services at Harvard, watching roomfuls of my classmates, dressed in suits, participating in these mysterious sessions that involved lotteries, bidding, points, and other gaming in order to vie for interview spots with Wall Street and management consulting firms. I remember thinking, “Wow, they must all think they can get decent jobs right out of undergrad!”

    But the scariest thing for me at that time in my life was to actually open my mind to ask a question that might prove my parents wrong. Despite being totally miserable working in a Harvard Medical School lab cutting mice tails to collect their blood for my Biochemical Sciences thesis, I continued. I did this not only because my parents had systematically told me that science and medicine were the “highest paths” I could follow in my life, but because the Head Tutor in Biochemical Sciences, an MD/PhD who was not at all Asian, told me point blank across his desk when I went in for advice on whether to do a thesis or not. He said, “Just do it. You’ve already started, and it wouldn’t make any sense not to just finish it.”

    Matters of the heart were not the expertise nor the concern of any of the mentors I happened to encounter at Harvard.

    I ended up going to medical school, finishing, and taking my first step toward freedom by not doing a residency. Spent the next three years ascending the partner ladder in a venture capital firm (thinking money would solve my problems, which it did, for a little while). Then, in 2004, sold my house, quit my job, and moved to California to open a violin school. After 5 years of that, I woke up and have been on a path of developing my own art through sound healing and life coaching.

    Fast forward to today, on the year of my 15th reunion from Harvard graduation, and I am in a totally different place. But it is through my own relentless learning and choices to remain deeply curious about life’s possibilities, to live into the questions about where my own creativity and heart’s desires might take me, and my willingness to do whatever it takes to live into my own dreams.

    I am living from my own creativity, and I am finding through my own experience that concepts of “success” and “failure” are a lot less interesting than the feelings of awe, wonder, delight, amazement, peace, joy, freedom, and the practice of truly unconditional love of one’s essential self.

    I stopped expecting my parents to teach me these things, and found other teachers. Once I let go of needing my parents’ permission, approval, and validation for my own feelings (this took about 34 years), I gradually started practicing new thought patterns and taking daily small actions toward a life that felt like my own. I notice that it matters less and less every day what anyone else thinks of me, and with every day that I practice this kind of living, I go deeper into a well of joy and surprise that I never imagined would be available to me.

    From My LinkedIn Group Asian American Leadership Network

  2. I love your story! Thank you for sharing it. It’s so funny but I am about to go to my 25th Harvard reunion and I ALSO was cutting open mice, getting spinal cells to then culture for an endocrinologist. Fast forward, I went entrepreneurial after realizing that I was NOT prepared to take MCATS. I ended up going to bschool and starting a series of businesses. I find start ups to be a wonderful creative process but also paint/draw and now blog.

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