Lately, I've been reading the blog of Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, Amy Chua's daughter. Not only is Sophia obviously intelligent and hard working, but to my surprise also appears to be creative, witty, personable, and well-rounded. She also seems to have a great relationship with her mother, and is genuinely thankful for the way she was raised.
In several interviews following the release of "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother", Amy Chua stated that her book was meant to be a satire. After reading Sophia's blog, I'm more inclined to believe that Amy Chua exaggerated parts of her book and that she really wasn't that strict at all (relative to how I was raised). To compare, when I was Sophia's age I was not allowed to have a job, have a boyfriend, wear clothes that stylish (or even shave my legs), have my grades drop from from an A+ to A, and not major in anything but pre-med. Additionally, I have yet to read about Sophia or her sister Lulu receiving physical punishment for poor performances or disagreeing with their parents. It really seems that Amy Chua did allow her daughters some liberty in their lives.
While reading Sophia's blog, one entry of interest was when she discussed her trip to China. Here, Sophia talked about how many Chinese readers viewed the "comic list of 'things [she and sister Lulu] were never allowed to do' as the new 10 Commandments". Furthermore, she described the Chinese translation of her mother's book as "totally literal and devoid of humor". In fact, author Amy Chua had to correct the misconception that she was some sort of education expert, telling her daughter, "How am I supposed to defend a position? I don't have a position! This is just my life!" and later defending the merits of the American education system.
Sophia and her mother seemed surprised at the Chinese reaction to "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother". However, I knew that this was going to happen from the moment I read the initial Wall Street Journal article. From the beginning, my biggest criticism of Amy Chua's book (in addition to the flashbacks I've experienced from reading about it) has been that despite its comedic nature, many parents will miss the humor and use it as a parenting guide. As illustrated by Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, it seems as if a number of parents now view Amy Chua as a parenting expert and her book a "how to" guide on how to raise academically successful children.
As someone still recovering from the strict Tiger Parenting described in the most extreme parts of "Battle Hymn", it saddens me to think about the children that will be subject to this type of parent style as a result of this book. While no one can deny that Tiger Parenting produces individuals like Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, what happens to those that, for whatever reason, cannot meet their parents' high expectations? Is success at all costs really worth the potential consequences? I can only hope that most parents that read "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" see it as the biographical satire it's meant to be.