The daughters of “tiger mother” Amy Chua, best known for her controversial child-rearing memoir “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” say they plan to raise their own children the same way their parents did.
Chua, 53, is a Yale law professor recognized for her strict “tiger mom standards” on her children that include not accepting any grades lower than an A, forcing her children to practice musical instruments for hours a day, drilling her kids in mathematics, not allowing sleepovers and definitely no boyfriends. After Chua’s bestselling book was published in 2011, critics exclaimed that Chua’s two daughters were abused and would grow up to be troubled and dysfunctional.
Chua’s eldest daughter Sophia Chua-Rubenfield, 23, is now a graduate of Harvard and a current law student at Yale. Commenting on her mother’s philosophies and methods of raising children, Sophia told the Telegraph:
“Everyone talks about my mother threatening to throw my toys on the fire, but the funny thing is that was not a major memory. I remember my childhood as happy.”
It should be understandable though that the pressure to succeed is exceptionally high when both your parents are lawyers. Chua’s child-rearing practices received global backlash, but Sophia believes her lawyer mother’s strict discipline pushed her to be better. She said to the Telegraph:
“I am not scared of my mom and never have been. It was my dad who I was much more afraid of disappointing. It was always unequivocally clear in my mind that my parents were on my side, no matter what. They did have high expectations of me, but because they had the confidence that I could do amazing things.”
Chua’s youngest daughter, Lulu Chua-Rubenfield, 19, is a second-year art history major at Harvard. Lulu echoed a similar sentiment when she said:
“I think I had a tough childhood, but a happy one. I was playing up to six hours of violin a day and it was too much. However, when I rebelled because it was putting too much of a strain on me, my mom could easily have given up on me. If I did poorly in a test, she did not let me lie in bed and wallow . She’d tell me I needed to get up and study to get a better mark so I would feel better. She pushed me when I needed it.”
Though cynics attack Chua’s book as containing irrational guidelines for parenting, she says it was intended more as a memoir on her transformation as a mother. Chua wrote on her website:
“I wrote this book in a moment of crisis, when my younger daughter seemed to turn against everything I stood for and it felt like I was losing her and everything was falling apart.”
“Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” is an account of the disconnect that can happen between children and parents when the tiger mom style of parenting is applied.
Chua adhered to the same ideals of raising her children that her Chinese immigrant parents applied to her. Her parents, who arrived to the United States as poor graduate students, demanded respect and obedience from their children. Chua wrote that she is grateful for their tough love ways:
“In fact, I believe that my parents having high expectations for me — coupled with love — is the greatest gift anyone has ever given me.”
The Chua-Rubenfeld sisters feel similarly about the tiger mom standards their mother expected from them. Surprisingly enough, their mom and dad might not have been the strictest parents out there. Sophia recounted to the Telegraph:
“I have come across Harvard students who tell me, ‘My grade wasn’t good enough. I can’t go home for Thanksgiving.’”
Chua’s daughters believe their upbringing was a happy one with much parental support. They plan to raise their children in the same way with some minor adjustments to foster each child’s individuality. At the end of the day, their family is ultimately a loving one as Lulu described:
“We are a close family. Even when there was a lot of screaming that was work. When it was over, that was family time and we’d go upstairs and watch movies together.”