Published in 2013, Tiger Babies Strike Back: How I Was Raised by a Tiger Mom but Could Not Be Turned to the Dark Side by Kim Wong Keltner is a response to the controversial 2011 book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. I haven't read Amy Chua's book, but I've read a great deal about it, and I've also consulted Wikipedia to better understand it. In Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, the author describes her efforts to give her children what she calls a traditional, strict “Chinese” upbringing. In the book, she uses the term "Tiger Mother" to mean a mother of any ethnicity who's a strict disciplinarian. According to Wikipedia, Amy Chua has stated that her book is a self-mocking memoir, rather than a manual for parents.
|My tiger baby|
~ Tiger Babies Strike Back, Kim Wong Keltner
Kim Wong Keltner dedicates this memoir to her daughter, Lucy. The author sounds like a wonderful, loving mother who wants the best for her daughter and cares deeply about her child's emotional health. In Tiger Babies Strike Back, she describes the playdates and the messes and the chaos, and she realizes the great flexibility that moms need to develop. She strives to be the best mother to her daughter, and I'm certain that she succeeds. Remembering how difficult, emotionally unavailable, and overly competitive her family was, the author is determined to give her own daughter a different type of life, which nurtures creativity and cooperation, and fosters a healthy sense of self not bound insufferably to achievement. I understand and respect this.
While I enjoyed reading Tiger Babies, I wanted to like this book even more than I did. The concept is clever, the title is clever, and many of the lines are clever, but I had some issues with the book. Although it's humorous, I'm not sure if the overall tone of this book is self-mocking in the same way as Amy Chua's book. After reading Tiger Babies for a while, it became repetitive and somewhat tedious to me, although I enjoyed the last few chapters very much, which brought back memories of when my own children were younger. I realize that the author would have preferred a warmer upbringing, but I felt as if she harped on that. I agree that we should nurture our children, to show them affection and hug them. But, I also believe that we need to push our kids a bit--they are strong and resilient--to help them reach their potentials, as students and as people. I do think that many parents are too permissive, and that overindulging children harms them. Loving our children means thinking about their future as well as the present.
I don't mean to sound as harsh and critical of this book as a "Tiger Mom". I read an uncorrected proof of the book, and it's possible that had I read a final version of this memoir, I'd have enjoyed it more. I do think Kim Wong Keltner is a talented writer, and I'd like to read other books by her. The Dim Sum of All Things and Buddha Baby appeal to me. The titles of her books are terrific, don't you think so?
Special thanks to Trish from TLC for sending me an advance copy of this book. For additional reviews, please visit the other stops on TLC's book tour of Tiger Babies Strike Back.