Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother opens your eyes to the potential benefits of tough love by sharing the traditionally Chinese parenting style and experiences of Amy Chua.

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Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother Summary

Have you ever had a friend whose parents were strict? I’ve heard stories of parents calling their college-age kids to ask why a grade was lower than an A. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

We refer to this as an “authoritarian” parenting style and most Westerners believe that it doesn’t work well.

Amy Chua, on the other hand, would disagree. She was raised by strict Chinese parents and has gained many life lessons from their seemingly harsh parenting style. She’s applied it in raising her own kids and proudly identifies as a “Tiger Mother.”

You’ll learn all about her own upbringing and the techniques she learned to help her own kids grow up ready to tackle the world in Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. You may be surprised, just as I was, to discover that strict parenting actually has benefits.

3 parenting lessons that I was surprised to get out of this book were:

  1. Helping your children learn to work hard and not give up so easily will prepare them for the future. 
  2. Chinese parents have a different philosophy when it comes to fun and happiness, and Westerners can learn a lot from it.
  3. Although they may sound harsh to those from other parts of the world, Chinese child-raising mentalities have many benefits.

Are you as excited as I am about this new perspective on life? Let’s dive right in and learn more!

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Lesson 1: If you want to prepare your kids for the future, teach them to work hard and not give up easily.

It might be easy when you see your kid struggling with a task to label it a weakness and let it go. But for Chinese parents this is unacceptable. They know that their children’s mindset is changeable and will turn their kid’s weaknesses into strengths.

In their minds, one of the best experiences for children is to see that they can improve at things they are bad at. 

Westerners typically have a difficult time with anything that might harm a child’s self-esteem. They might, for example, not let the kid play a game that they might lose. 

Chinese parents, on the other hand, instill the valuable lesson that it’s important to persist even when things aren’t easy.

The author’s experience with helping her daughter Louisa learn to play a difficult piano piece is the perfect example of this. The song required Louisa to play different rhythms with each hand. Even after hours of practice she couldn’t get it and told her mother she was giving up. 

Chua was having none of it though. She wanted Louisa to understand that she could improve and made her continue. Eventually, Louisa learned to play the piece and was so overjoyed that she couldn’t stop playing the song for days!

Lesson 2: Westerners may have a difficult time understanding Chinese parent’s philosophies on fun and happiness but they can learn a lot from them.

What do you think when you see a tough parent scolding their child? It might be easy to assume that the kid isn’t happy. But the author, even with strict parents, remembers being very happy as a child.

In the minds of Chinese parents, enjoyment only comes after you get proficient at something. To get to that point you have to put in a lot of hours practicing. Although most kids would rather quit, Tiger Moms will force them to persevere until it gets fun.

Chua’s experience helping her daughter Sophia get good at playing the piano explains this well. It was hard for Sophia to learn and took a lot of effort for her to practice. Chua forced her to persist, even by practicing for three hours daily.

Eventually, though, Sophia got so skilled that other people began to comment on how good she was. This confidence boost made playing the piano more enjoyable, which made practicing easier.

It’s a curious thing when you consider the incredible pressure that Chinese parents put on their kids how the children can still be happy. And yet most of the time their children do say they experience a great deal of joy.

In the mind of the author, many Western families struggle even though they’re less strict and do focus on happiness. You might even say that you don’t need to prioritize happiness if you want your kids to have it!

Lesson 3: There are many benefits to the harsh-sounding Chinese child-rearing mentalities.

Making your kid sit down to practice the piano just for an hour sounds intense to us Western parents. But the Chinese don’t have a problem with being hard on their kids. To them, that first hour is just a warmup.

They’re also far more direct with their kids. A phrase like “Hey fatso, you need to lose weight” wouldn’t be uncommon for a Chinese parent to say to their kids. In the Western world, we try to tiptoe around the issue by just talking about general health.

The question you’re probably wondering is what impact this kind of direct behavior has on the child’s self-esteem or health. 

If you think about it, plenty of children with parents who are easier on them still have weight issues. And wouldn’t that make their self-esteem worse than a parent being direct about their weight?

It’s also common to hear of strictness in academics. The author requires her daughters to get As in all of their classes. For the rest of us it might seem like encouraging our kids to do their best is better, but what are the outcomes of this?

In the case of requiring only top grades, Chua knows what her daughters can accomplish. She’ll tell them just what she’s thinking without trying to sugar coat it. This habit makes it so she never has to try to tell herself she’s disappointed in them.

Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother Review

Whoa, Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother blew me away. I was not excited at the beginning when I heard the phrase “authoritarian parenting style” because I know how awful it can be and the problems it creates for kids. But discovering the details of and reasons behind the Chinese parenting philosophy really opened my eyes to its benefits.

Who would I recommend the Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother summary to?

The 28-year-old new parents who are wondering how to raise their kids, the 43-year-old school teacher that wants to help her students reach their full potential, and anyone that’s curious to see the positives of a parenting style that they might consider to be too tough.

Last Updated on September 13, 2022

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.