Everyone is talking about Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Speakeasy has a quick round-up of opinions about this memoir of “Chinese-style” parenting. Amy Chua and I are probably near-opposite parents. I lean toward attachment parenting, positive discipline, and Montessori education, so, as you might imagine, I find the methods described in Amy Chua’s “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior” essay pretty awful. Asian mombloggers all over the Internet are speaking out about how not all Asian parents are hyper-severe like Chua describes.
I recently read a teen novel, Bitter Melon by Cara Chow, which depicted a parent that sounds a lot like Amy Chua. Chow writes of the inspiration for the novel as coming from her loving Chinese family:
“On the one hand, I deeply respected and admired this family style. On the other hand, I pondered its potential pitfalls. What if the aging parent was difficult, dysfunctional, or even abusive? Should the adult child fulfill her obligation to the parent, or should she break free of that obligation? Should she betray her parent or herself? That question became the seed for BITTER MELON.”
Mother-daughter tension is, of course, a recurring theme in teen fiction, which is one of the reasons it is hard to be the mother of a little girl and be a reader of teen fiction. It makes me nervous sometimes…