Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011

Amy Chua

No matter how many times Amy Chua insisted that her 2011 book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, was a memoir and not a how-to guide, millions of readers viewed it as an indictment of American (read: overly permissive) parenting. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Chua described how her parents' refusal to accept anything less than excellence had led her to achieve great things, including becoming a Yale Law School professor, and how her own strict parenting (no sleepovers! no bathroom breaks until you play that piano piece right!) had helped her to raise two very accomplished teenage girls. The book tapped into some of Americans' deepest insecurities — Are we demanding enough from our children? Are we falling behind as a nation? — and led many women in particular to ask each other, "Are you a tiger mom?" The debate that lingers, of course, is whether we should be.