This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable

‘Tiger Mom’ Amy Chua responds to uproar

Amy Chua has stirred up considerable controversy with her new memoir, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” in which she recounts her childhood experiences with strict Chinese immigrant parents and her reliance on those parenting skills with her own children. Many commentators have called her rules — no sleepovers, for one — “extreme.”

In an interview with Need to Know’s Alison Stewart, Chua admitted that casting the book as a clash of cultures may have roused passions.  “I’m talking about Chinese values versus Western values, and that’s such a hot button issue right now,” Chua said. But she defended her book, saying it was an expression of core American values as much as anything else. “The current model of relatively permissive and coddling parenting,” Chua said, “I think it’s pretty recent.” Of American parents, she added: “A couple generations ago, they actually parented very similar to the way I did.”

Chua also told Stewart that the book is as much about her mistakes as a mother as it is her triumphs.

“In the end, it gets much darker,” Chua said. “It’s about my having to pull back, when my younger daughter rebelled. So it is not a ‘How To’ book.  It is a memoir.  It’s about my own journey and struggle, and eventual transformation as a mother.”



  • Val W.

    After all of the hubbub that Amy Chua has created this week, I’m surprised that your anchor didn’t take the opportunity to ask more probing questions. Why not ask about the link between Tiger Mom-style parenting and the high levels of depression and suicide in young Asian-American women? Or asking her how she came to the decision to foist the upbringing she hated so much onto her own children? Your questioning just allowed her to spew the same soundbites she’s been delivering to every other news organization this week.

  • Susanna Tyagi

    I wouldn’t want her for a mother. I like C+ kids who are well rounded and well grounded. Any woman who threatens to burn her daughters’ stuffed animals is a psycho. Does she hug her kids? I doubt it. I think she spends her time with her huge checklist. Your culture is cruel if it causes young women to hate their own mothers. Do her daughters love her or are they afraid of her? I’d be afraid of her. She wrote the book “in a moment of crisis” as she realized life is too short for check lists and you’d better LOVE your kids because no one else will. She wrote the book because she is GUILTY. I am not buying it so you don’t have to worry about me buying another hard cover book, lady.

  • Gine

    Hmmm. Assume much?

  • NiteMuzik

    Val W., unfortunately, this interview wasn’t meant for probing, it was meant to sell books. Public radio and television are becoming more beholden to commercial interests. Just look at the slick corporate ads on PBS.

  • Donnie A

    Well, I’d rather let my kids pick their own extra curricular activities and make b’s and c’s. Isn’t it eventually about raising well rounded happy individuals? Just because you don’t have some extreme checklist, does not make you permissive or coddling. Deciding to let my children govern themselves accordingly, and facing their own consequences if they don’t, is important. Why do you think her daughter rebelled. She never let her daughter make any decisions for herself. How do you make a child play an instrument they don’t even like? Our children should be allowed to express themselves however they please, as long as it’s not detremental physically or mentally. Then, as parents we should step in. My children have chores and rules, but I’ll be damned if I become warden and my home becomes a prison. A home with loving parents should be what every child has.

  • G K Sushi

    What tiger moms miss is that there is HUGE disconnect between the elder generations and the younger. They may feel obligated to maintain their relationships to a certain point, but it comes with no small amount of derision from the children and ruins their lives in other ways. Sure they have great careers, but they constantly lament that they never were allowed a social life and are often socially dysfunctional. The fact is that your kids are NOT you, an error many parents take, western or “eastern” and living vicariously backfires most of the time.

  • Rojobahr

    There is nothing wrong with having high expectations of your children. I believe that they should be able to choose their own activities – but I also think that they should BE involved in an activity. I push my own children to be the best they can be – but I also counter that with encouragement and praise for a job well done. I think that her ultimate conclusion that a blending of parenting styles is best is correct. I found it refreshing and admirable to read something so honest about parenting – both the good and the bad. Anyone who thinks that they are the ‘best’ kind of parent is dilussional, IMO.

  • Darknessisserenity

    WTF c’s are acceptable, make their own decisions. no wonder we have a generation of ill behaved brats. parents should PARENT! i’m not saying you have to be EXTREME but you have to have rules and expectations. you mold the child into a happy well adjusted adult. otherwise they’re confused and easily swayed into bad habits.

  • Anonymous

    My 4 boys have thanked me time and time again for their strict childhood. I did not place as many restrictions upon them as Amy Chua placed on her children but there were definite guidelines. They had to do things they didn’t like. If you are to succeed at anything you have to learn to do the hard things you don’t want to do. Being permissive is not loving it is taking the easy way out – it isn’t done for our children it is done for us so we can be their “buddies” instead of their parents. Each of my sons have expressed their frustration with those that work for them whose parents never taught them responsibility or self discipline. There has to be a median between permissiveness and harshness.

  • Denise

    Rules, expectations, lessons, molding: These are my takeaways from the few interviews I’ve heard with or read about Chua this week. She says we should assume our children’s strength, not tiptoe around their presumed vulnerability and fragility (I’m paraphrasing). To which I say, right on! I blogged about this yesterday. She’s the Tiger Mom, I’m the Mean Mom:


  • Bfahle

    Facing the consequences is the key. Many parents shield their children from the consequences of their own actions. Taking responsibility means, for example, paying for the increase in auto insurance if you have a wreck. Modern parents largely coddle by taking the consequences for their children. Then they wonder why the children don’t want to grow up to be child-slaves.

  • Letaya2000

    It’s the parents’ responsibility to push and develop their child’s full potential. Okay, kids may decide to initially favor and play a certain instrument, but if you don’t push them, they usually just lose interest eventually. I come from a multi-racial background. My mother is Korean and so my parents pushed me to do well in school and play piano. When I was young there was a time when I complained and lost interest with the piano, but as an adult, I am really grateful for my parents pushing me.

    When I look at my adult friends who have an Asian background, no matter what their profession they play at least one instrument excellently. However, most of my non-Asian friends can barely play one instrument well even if they were in high school band. There’s the difference. Anyway, music helps to develop other skills, especially within math and science, which we greatly need and lack in our youth in the US. Also, these days kids have a short attention span and have trouble on mentally focusing in on doing one thing at a time, due to things like tv/internet/facebook/video games/texting. So especially in this environment parents have to be more involved and push their kids to strive to be the best they can be especially in academics and music.

  • Letaya2000

    If we don’t get our youth to focus on their education, our country will be in a sad state. As it stands now our youth aren’t able to compete with youth in other developed nations globally in math and science. This will be detrimental to the US’ productivity and economy in the future.

  • Anonymous

    all this writer really has is a catchy title, plus a topic that is sure to spark sharp opinions from moms of all kind – not only the ones who are in that relatively small demographic that she describes (immigrants with graduate degrees, people just like her/her family). Also, it sparks debate amongst adult women, who are the main consumers of books. From a marketing stand point, it’s brilliant. But I’m guessing I wouldn’t be taking any parenting lessons from her.

  • Raku

    Amy Chua – “How to Raise a Communist.” Deny your children any right to be a child, feel happiness, think or feel for themselves.. teach them young how to bow down to authority unquestioningly.

  • Evolver

    I’d say more likely, how to raise an anarchist. After being forced to live under stricked authoritarian rule, I find, most people rebel against everything. Chua is even finding this out herself. But, you right, for those that do not rebel. They seem to live with a “did i do good mommy” mentality for the rest of there life and will blindingly follow whatever culture there in, no matter how pathological that culture may be. Either way she is raising extremist.

  • Lisa Hess

    I am only partway through this book, which I downloaded onto my Kindle after hearing about it on NPR. Before you judge, you need to read it. The tongue-in-cheek tone is evident,and she’s not suggesting superiority. After hearing this interview, I can’t wait to read the ending where she and her daughter hit their black moment (just like a novel) and a decision has to be made. I’m finding it fascinating, even in places where I disagree with her. Still not fair to judge a book by its cover – or its video clip.

  • Victor Wong

    I do not know whether Amy’s book is right or wrong..I do know that “if you spare the rod, you spoil the child!” This has happened time and time again with families that I’ve know..children that have had all the advantages (smarts, athletic ability, etc), but yet turn out average or below average! America in this day and age should be worried..there is a nation called China, and China is not raising “cry babies!!” China as a body of people are ambitious, creative, smart, dynamic. Take heed!!

  • Teachingtara

    Your children will not get very far with C+’s unless you have connections. It is OK to push your kids. It won’t hurt them.

  • cortismandua

    And I just bet that little “extremist” can spell better than YOU can. One of the perks of teaching a child discipline.

  • BlackPinoy23

    I am half Asian myself and I can tell you I turned out good without any of this absurd treatment, I say we should sent this Commie back to China!!!!

  • Htun Lin

    I hope Saturday Night Live will start taking the cue and use the “Tiger Mother”
    theme as part of their opening skit. Just hilarious. I thought about re-titling her book “Mommy Dearest as Drill Sargeant”. She’s just too hilarious. I hope she’s aware of it. She is. Isn’t she?

    Once I tried that “tough love” and “Confucian discipline” on my German Shepherd. I told her how worthless she was as a canine, and how undisciplined she was, and I told her how I would withhold all her doggie-cookies and beef-jerkies, and even her doggie-sweater and doggie-toys, if she didn’t *SHAPE* UP!! In other words, I told her, if she didn’t EXCEL in the Dog-Show competition, she’d be in the DOG HOUSE!!

    I told her she’d end up being nothing more than a worthless furball! All she did in response after all of my emotional acrobatic extremes was to walk up to me and give me a big wet tongue-slurping doggie kiss. Needless to say, she won hands down.

  • Htun Lin

    For a “Commie”, and “Chinese mother”, she sure has some pretty unconventional and atypical proclivities as a person. She equates the “Piano” and the “Violin” as the only “worthwhile” extra-curricular activities for her children. There are plenty of other musical instruments from China. I believe the piano and the violin are typical instruments while playing Beethoven or a Schubert composition. I don’t think either men studied under Confuscius or Mao. This Amy Chua is so full of herself and so full of uninformed stereotypes camouflaged as motherly wisdom. I come from a big peasant family of Toishan chinese. I have not known any of my aunts to be like her. She resembles to more like a Maggie Whitman or a Carlie Fiorina. “Dragon” ladies.

  • Htun Lin

    For a “Chinese mother”, who is so facile with this “East/West” dichotomy, she sure has some pretty unconventional and atypical proclivities as a “Chinese” person. She equates the “Piano” and the “Violin” as the only “worthwhile” extra-curricular activities for her children. There are plenty of other musical instruments from China. I believe the piano and the violin are typical instruments while playing Beethoven or a Schubert composition. I don’t think either men studied under Confuscius or Mao. This Amy Chua is so full of herself and so full of uninformed stereotypes camouflaged as motherly wisdom. I come from a big peasant family of Toishan chinese. I have not known any of my aunts to be like her. She resembles to me more like a Maggie Whitman or a Carlie Fiorina, or a Maggie Thatcher. “Dragon” ladies.

  • William Chu

    I think about the strict upbringing that my parents had on me when growing up
    I don’t think it was such a terrible thing. All our parents wanted to do was to set us
    along the right path, as best as they knew how to and what they had.

  • Jay Sugar

    I hope your value of just what it means to be an educated person is equal to the passion you express in your comment. Sadly, given the hint of paranoia implicit in your words, I fear this is not the case.

  • roxanne

    Good takeaway messages…I agree…Its the methods she used that were controversial. I would not call my child “garbage” but I will tell call them out and tell them when they are acting disrespectful. another point: By forcing her child to play for hours on end, she sent a message to her daughter that playing the piano was only worthwhile if she produced flawless music…. that she had no respect for her daughters’ needs (food, bathroom break) until she mastered the song. Taking time to listen to your child does not equal permissiveness & coddling. Lets not forget the notion of balance and moderation in what we do. I believe children need guidance, advice, and yes as parent we do exert our will, but hopefully with reason and respect not merely brute force. There is a balance in here.

  • Jessica A Bruno

    Finished reading it and have found it was worth it. Even though I have mix emotions on all of it. Still wished that Ms Chua breastfed her kids instead of bottlefed them and etc along those lines. It would be interesting if her husband (Jed Rubenfield)/maybe their kid/s would write their own memoir/s about this. The reason why mentioned that in her book (last chapter) and I for one would be interested reading his/their side/s of the story.

  • Piper

    These comments about how Amy Chua is a “Commie” and a “monster” are just ridiculous. She is not cruel, savage, or misguided. She’s doing what she thinks is best for her children.

    I was raised exactly the same way that her daughters were, and I thank my parents for it. I was not allowed to attend sleep-overs, I made perfect grades, I was not athletic (or an actress), and I played the piano. My parents also called me “garbage” when I did not perform as well as I could have. People who criticize Chua for “belittling” her children and “destroying their self-esteem” do not know what they are talking about. That did not destroy my self-esteem. I internalized my parents’ criticism and used it as fuel to push myself harder, to achieve more. And when I did, the praise I received felt more fulfilling than an empty “Good job! You tried your hardest!”

    Of course, children are different. Some children have the inner strength to battle through the criticism and come out on top, some need to be encouraged through other methods. But Chua’s style was effective for her daughters, and it was for me.

  • Amyandkirk

    Amy Chua is obviously experiencing the classic signs of cultural identiy crisis packaged in an ethnic heritage bow. She is no more Chinese than I …and I am not. She’s a bully parent and nothing more…

  • Mk6575

    Wow! You American parents are as trashy as your children. Yeah. Keep it up. Watch the reality shows, the video games, the porn – drive them to the drunken orgies. You all deserve what you get. And, while you’re standing outside your foreclosed house when your tech job goes to China, maybe your third wife or one of your 10 stepchildren will take you in.

  • Ellezymmi_397

    Whoa! Mtv is not me, or my children. Are you a terrorist sleeping with nine year olds? How about a Chinese Government party member participating in extreme inhuman acts treating people worse then dogs? Have you met my children? Maybe you say you are part of a Holy Religion and then sleep with men…hypocrite. I don’t throw you out with rumours of your culture, so why do you me with mine??? Our tech job s will only go to China as long as we allow you to come to our Ivy league schools to educate yourself. Even Karl Marx went to Oxford to study. Maybe we should leave you to your own philandering and stop paying your lowly workers little to make more for us. And just to give you a heads-up, more porn is viewed in India then any other country. More children are abducted in third world countries then anywhere else. We may be spoiled and stepping away from Godliness but we are a far cry from trash. Please don’t visit the USA. You exude hatred. I am sure you are happy in your Utopian country wrought with its own problems, people, and history.

  • Ellezymmi_397

    Creative is not what I have heard. Communism tells you what you believe. How “creative” is that? They probably could care less about feelings. They smash them out of people. There has got to be a better way. The only reason China will get ahead is sheer number of people. Not to mention all the girls aborted. They aim to be ahead, with ruthless tactics. We would be pawns to them that they would crush too if given the chance. Feelings are irrelavant.

  • Ellezymmi_397

    China’s culture has daughters abort their girls to please their Mother-in-laws and Family. What Love?

  • Lisa

    The common current running through Amy Chua’s books are her deep distain of Western culture and civilization. World on Fire and Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mom are less prescriptive and more a forum to criticize the West, whether it is democracy or parenting. Surprising that she lives and works here.

    What would be very interesting would be to query Ms. Chua about how she would raise boys. The eastern cultures that she praises show unapologetic contempt for women. No wonder she vehemently defends treating her own daughters like garbage.

  • Lisa

    The common current running through Amy Chua’s books is anti-Western sentiment. Whether democratic principles or positive parenting styles, she is less prescriptive than highly critical of where she has elected to work and live.

    What would be an interesting follow on interview would be to query Chua on how she would alter her parenting techniques if she had boys. She praises a culture that is unapologetic in its mysogyny and long-standing contempt for women. Sounds like a solid foundation from which to vehemently defend why her daughters are (in her own words) “…garbage”

  • Yahitsbree

    theyre made to play one of two instruments and dont let the child participate in plays or sports.. how creative is that.. theyre smart because if theyre not the best they get screamed at and are told to belive that playing the piano or violin for 6hours or doing homework for 10hours is fun.. what sort of life is that to live?!

  • Guest

    its a memoir get over yourselves!

  • cyndi

    Hey, as long as there is no ‘honor killings’ or female circumcisions involved, they are free to parent according to their cultures.

  • cyndi

     her kids are better behaved than yours so get over it.

  • cyndi

     I assume that you did not actually read the book black pinoy. This woman is actually a pinoy. and I am proud of her.

  • cyndi

    for those who say chua is anti-western, I think that they are anti-eastern. Look at the percentage of asians in higher ed and grad school. look at the success rate of asian americans as compared to other ‘minorities’ and tell me honestly that her system is flawed.

  • Crissy Featherstone

    I absolutely love her points and how she makes fun of being a parent trying her best based of how she was raised. We all do. I have a step-daughter that I do not allow sleep-overs, grades are the most important and my parenting style is based on her actions out-side the home; not tradition. My son is 27 and I he did not want to have sleep-overs and I would have allowed it yet he did not prefer it. Today he is a successful young man, home owner, and in a healthy relationship of 16 years. I think Mrs.Chua is a wonderful, insightful, caring mother who tackled a mothers thought’s and fears in rearing children. Thank you.