Tiger Mother's daughter speaks!

battle-hymn-chua  When EW first reviewed Amy Chau’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mothera controversial chronicling of her decision to raise her two children according to “the Chinese way”we wondered what her two daughters Sophia and Lulu (who, we learned in the book, were never allowed to have play dates, sleepovers, or get anything besides A grades) thought about it all.

The New York Post tracked down Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, now 18, to get her side of the story, written as a letter to her mother. Not surprisingly, perhaps, Chua-Rubenfeld takes the opportunity to vigorously defend her mom’s actions. She even even brings up those homemade birthday cards that Chua rejected! Says Chua-Rubenfeld, “Everybody’s talking about the birthday cards we once made for you, which you rejected because they weren’t good enough. Funny how some people are convinced that Lulu and I are scarred for life. Maybe if I had poured my heart into it, I would have been upset. But let’s face it: The card was feeble, and I was busted. It took me 30 seconds; I didn’t even sharpen the pencil. That’s why, when you rejected it, I didn’t feel you were rejecting me. If I actually tried my best at something, you’d never throw it back in my face

Okay, so there you have it! But we’d be remiss if we didn’t also point out that Sophia was the one described in the book as being the more obedient daughter…

Comments (52 total) Add your comment
  • Jennifer

    I’d be far more interested in knowing how Lulu feels about her mother’s choice of parenting style, and her decision to write a book about it.

  • N8WHIT

    Maybe if we didn’t coddle our kids in the western world, we would have a more intact familial cycle and be competitive in the global market again.

  • BlackIrish4094

    It’s like Stockholm Syndrome.

    • allie

      Exactly. Any mother who rejects a child’s home made birthday card, regardless of the effort, is trash and has no business having children in the first place. What a self-righteous b*tch!

      • whatevs

        Regardless of the effort? No wonder kids are self-entitled these days. They’re given everything without giving an ounce of regard for what they give others.

        If there’s someone judging who should and shouldn’t be having children, it certainly should not be you.

      • BlackIrish4094

        Totally agree. I have a young son and a kid’s card to you is a treasure regardless of the “quality”. Please, like the crafts (potholders and stuff) they had us make for our Mom’s were so awesome? No, but my Mom still has hers and treasures it.

      • John

        No BlackIrish, kids are spoiled today that’s the problem!!

        Cell phones, Ipods, whatever they want they get.

        And a crappy card is supposed to be praised?

        If the kid put some time into the card then yes accept it, but if they just scribble on a piece of paper?

        Even the daughter herself admitted the card was lousy and she was busted for it.

        Come on LAZY FAT AMERICANS, it’s time to actually RAISE KIDS, not CODDLE THEM!!!!

      • Auth

        , I also set a PR. Woo!6:20 6:17 5:59 PR!I have to thank DK for giving me some sueppemlnt advice on BCAA’s and other amino acids that I should be taking. I have been and I’m seeing a big difference in my training.Didn’t do this CF WOD because I posted Fight Gone Bad for my clients and so I thought I would give it a go so they could see a number to reach for.We had to sub the rowing with a cable row machine with weight set at 60# for both men and women. Every rep counts as 1pt.FIGHT GONE BAD Score: 428

    • wuxiaoping

      ha! I was thinking the EXACT thing. It’s that rote chinese copy-cat thing (& perhaps survivor’s instinct)

  • Hope

    Umm yeah cause the way society is raising kids today is turning out so well. Maybe shes onto something.

    • Juke

      “Society” doesn’t raise kids. Parents raise kids.

      • blah

        oh yes, thats right. society has no effect on children or the way that parents raise children.

      • Tony

        Fools. Let’s blame society. It’s so much easier than accepting responsbility for our own behavior.

      • charles

        And who do you think actually comprises society? Smurfs?

      • C

        Agreed. It is the people who make the society what it is- therefore whatever the standard of parenting in our country is based upon both society and the parents. If we don’t like the way it is we cannot blame it on only one or the other. What we can do in turn is change the way we parent ourselves- just as she does for her children.

      • Ishtiaq

        I agree with you too! We need to show our love twadros our children! No dictator action!

    • Big Walt

      What’s wrong with the way kids/people are today? How are they different today than 25 years ago, or 50 years ago. Please give examples to support this theory that kids are worse today than previously.

    • BlackIrish4094

      You don’t think maybe there is a middle ground?

  • Elizabeth

    Need to find a happy medium: accept your kids, but hold them accountable and teach them to be responsible. Support them, don’t coddle them. Help them with their school work, don’t do it for them or blame the teachers for shortcomings.

    • Tag

      Thank you, Elizabeth. Well spoken.

    • J

      Agree. As someone who grew up the Asian way, I definitely think that a happy medium is best.

    • harry

      well put Elizabeth

      • Elivelton

        Thanks for the responses.Just to check I have unreostodd correctly: In this instance swim the LONGEST distance at the FASTEST speed that will enable me to keep good technique.I will then rest the MINIMUM amount of time to enable me to do it again (within the detailed tolerances). And I repeat until either my technique diminishes or the interval time varies too much. Thanks.

  • Anne

    The happy medium is called “authoritative” parenting. Not to be confused with authoritarian parenting, which is what Amy Chau followed (the opposite of permissive parenting)

    • Katja

      Ooh, you just made me reach waaaay back into my memories of Intro to Child Development to recall what those labels mean. That’s a good thing. Thanks!

  • trish

    A child’s card isn’t about “effort,” it’s about thoughtfulness. That mother is a narcissist.

    • trish

      And that daughter’s “admission” that the card was somehow substandard tells me that she is, indeed, scarred for life.

      • whatevs

        How can something that takes a person no effort be considered thoughtful? She obviously didn’t think about it enough to care about trying.

      • IndyStacey

        whatevs, the child was four years old.

      • Juke

        The fact that this woman can even remember an incident that took place when she was 4 confirms that she is scarred for life.

      • s.cr

        @Juke: if that were the case, wouldn’t she repress the memory?

      • BlackIrish4094

        Thta’s the same thing I thought. She thinks she deserved the mother’s derision for not trying hard enough. Definitely scarred.

  • Levente

    I’m sorry, but honestly? Kids suuuuuuck these days.

  • David

    Amy Chua made some good money off of this media stunt…

    • kailynn


  • Marianna

    Maybe the bigger question here isn’t what would possess a mother to reject a handmade birthday card from her child but what kind of parenting produces a child so indifferent to her mother’s special day so as to create a birthday card devoid of any thought or sentiment with an unsharpened pencil?

    • Vic

      She was FOUR. A four year old isn’t going to about whether the pencil she used on her mother’s card is sharp enough or not, but instead will think about how happy her mother will be when she recieves the card.

      • Marianna

        The unsharpened pencil is a secondary point, junior kindergartens all over this country are filled with four year olds who put a great deal of thought and sentiment into their work. One hundred percent of them can differentiate between crappy and best effort, seventy five percent of them do in fact care whether their pencil is sharp enough to get the desired result.

      • Marianna

        …. and you missed the main point in it’s entirety. The question remains, what kind of parenting produces a four year old so distanced from her mother she can’t be bothered to put any thought or sentiment into a card celebrating her mother’s special day? The four year olds I’m aquainted with are all very effusive and demonstrative in their love for their mother, not so Sophia, why?

      • BlackIrish4094

        @Marianna. I hope you’re not a mother and, if you are, good luck to your poor children with you to look out for them.

      • George Albinus

        Because Asian culture is generally built on collectivismit Asian people tend to put the group before the individual and as a result abuse is often over looked, justified and rationalized. Children are abused in America for similar reasons but there doesn’t seem to be the stigma attatched to child abuse in Asia that we give it here. Ultimately abuse is absue stigamtized or down played, it’s a crime and needs to be punished.

      • Marianna

        Why feel sorry for my children? What did I say that was so abhorent as to elicit such pity on their behalf?
        Sigh. I’m probably digging myself deeper into your contempt here but my point was that if you raise your children to be cold little autobots then you really shouldn’t be surprised if that’s the kind of birthday card you end up receiving. Whatever.

  • Dr Ferguson

    The Christmas no child or adult put anything under the tree for mom was devastating because no one thought of her, not because they didn’t put enough effort into a gift. A folded piece of paper with no writing at all would have been a treasure. My dad brought hotel soaps home as a gift when he returned from a business trip…no real effort, no cost, but a wonderful thought that showed he cared. The joy of receiving (and giving) is the moment of acceptance: it should be celebrated as an emotion, not a tangible object.

  • Adyn

    Having only read a few excerpts of the book (it’s on it’s way! and I can’t wait to read it.) I have to say, that while, some of her parenting tactis seem… harsh, I don’t get the outrage. Sure it’s a different parenting style, and maybe it’s overly strict, but my experience as both a babysitter and a nanny has shown me, that parents who are stricter on their kids typically have better behaved, more “successful” children. Partially because they learn that their are rules that have to be obeyed and that they can’t have their way; that sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do; and the the world does NOT revolve around them. Partially because parents who are more strict, tend to also be more involved in their kids lives. When you are involved in a child’s life they know that you care, no matter what is said. My parents were of the stricter variety (not tiget mom strict…) and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter what my mom said i was loved and that she was doing what she did because she wanted the best for me and knew i could do better.

    • Zoe

      Adyn, there’s a difference between being strict and demeaning your children constantly while setting such high standards that they can never measure up. That leads to kids who are never able to be comfortable with themselves, are not happy when they do genuinely achieve something.

      I’ll give you an example: my mother, too, was critical, harsh, and cold (although she was not terribly strict – strangely). Nothing I did measured up or was worth much to her. My Dad tried to shield me from it, but to this day I still reflexively think, when promoted or praised or given a prize – I’ve won a few – that “they must have made a mistake,” and “I don’t deserve this, everybody else was better, maybe I should give it back/not accept/make sure they didn’t mix me up with somebody else.” I wish I could tell you I’m exaggerating, but I am not.

      These poor kids will never be able to genuinely enjoy their lives as well-rounded adults, and will likely come to resent their mother terribly (which may or may not help them start on a path to self-acceptance. Hard to say.)

      • Cicero

        If you are not able to complete 400m with rest in 7 mientus scale the distance back. You should not be adding time to the interval. Yes, people will be going on different intervals based on their experiences w/swimming and ability to maintain proper mechanics for 400m. A faster swimmer will use a faster interval than 7 mientus. 7 mientus was high end of the suggested interval. The athlete decides on the amount of rest while setting their interval.

  • closetoyale

    I know the girls, they are wonderful kids and not scarred for life. I was surprised that mom was the same woman who wrote this book! She is clearly very proud of her kids, and with good reason. When I see them I see a very close family.

  • bootsycolumbia

    This whole argument is bogus. You get from your children what you put into them. If you’re a lazy parent, you’re going to end up with horrible,self-entitled brats. I had a good friend who had two kids (a white family, btw), who were the most well-mannered, likable kids I’ve ever known (besides my own, of course!). I remember having coffee with my friend and her daughter in a neighborhood coffee shop, and some friends of the family came over to join us. They were all senior citizens, and my friend’s daughter (11 at the time) stood up out of respect until they’d all taken their seats. When I complimented my friend on how well she raised her kids, she shrugged it off: “That’s how I was raised, so that’s how I raise my kids, too.” It had a huge impact on me.

    • Lanae

      @bootsycolumbia, I just want to know what your friend being “white btw” has to do with anything?

    • Ally

      Mmm… kind of. It really depends. I swear to myself that I won’t swear or yell at my children, call them lazy s***because of bad grades (I have a white family, btw). There are two ways it can go. A child can mirror you, or be the polar opposite.

      • Rakia

        The run is separate dctasnies 200m, 400m, and 600m. The rest is the length of time it takes you to do each distance. If you do 200m in :40, you rest :40; if you run 400m in 1:15, you rest 1:15; if you do the 600m in 3:30, you rest 3:30, then you start over and run 200m and repeat it for 2 more cycles.

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