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Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (Chua) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
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Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother:

1. What is your overall reaction to Battle Hymn of the Mother Tiger?  Are you appalled or impressed, in agreement, disagreement...or something else?

2. What kind of mother is Amy Chua? Do you wish you'd had a mother like Chua? Or that you were a mother like Chua?

3. Is this a parenting manual? Are Western parents too soft on, or too permissive toward, their children? Does Amy Chua offer an alternative parenting model?

4. What is the most extreme example of Amy Chua's mothering? Which incidents stuck with you more than others—the piano practice threats? The birthday card rejection?

5. Success for Chua is important: how does she define success...and how do you define it? How important is success to you?

6. Consider whether Chua's children are such extraordinarily high achievers (musically and academically) because of their strict upbringing...or because of their innate abilities, i.e., genetics? (See her father's background in the Author Bio above.)

7. According to Chua, her parenting method is typical of Chinese families. Is their method—with its strict demands for high achievement—superior to that of Western parents? How would you describe the differences between parenting in the two cultures?

8. Chua wishes to reverse what she sees as "a remarkably common pattern" of decline in the Chinese immigrant family. According to Chua, first generation immigrants exercise strict discipline. Their children, the second generation, will "typically be high-achieving" but less strict with their children. And the third generation, "will feel that they have individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution"—an attitude that ultimately leads to to disobedience and generational decline. Is the decline Chua describes real? Have other immigrant populations experienced the same pattern?

9. Do you agree or disagree with Chua's criticisms of various aspects of Western culture—Facebook and junk food being two examples?

10. What does Chua think of the Western emphasis on self-esteem? Do you agree...or disagree with her assessment?

11. Chua dismisses the happy endings of Disney family movies by saying that that's "just Disney's way of appealing to all the people who never win prizes." What do you think—are the movies' soft-focus on parenting values pandering to low-achievers, to those who will never rise above average?

12. Part of Chua's rationale is that she understands what all Chinese parents understand: "that nothing is fun until you're good at it." Do you agree? Is playing the piano well as an adult, for instance, worth those toothmarks bitten into the piano as a child?

13. Chua says of herself, "the truth is I'm good at enjoying life." What do you make of her admission? Has she risked teaching her daughters the same attitude toward life?

14. What role does Chua's husband, Jed, play in all this? What should his role have been? What do you make of the fact that Chua is not unlike his own mother?

15. How did her sister's illness change Chua's views on life?

16. When Lulu had her outburst in Russia, did you root for her, or shrink back in horror?

17. How, eventually, is Chua "humbled" by her daughters—in what way do they prove wiser than their mother? Is, in fact, Chua truly humbled by Lulu? Does she have a genuine awakening?

18. What area some of the books humorous moments. Many reviewers talked about laughing out loud. What sections do you find especially funny, even hilarious?

19. Is success worth the time and effort it takes to maintain oversight and discipline...and, most especiallly, is it worth a child's unhappiness? Is that unhappiness only momentary in the larger scheme of life? In the end, is the payoff—a lifetime of accomplishment—worth the cost?

20. What do you predict for Chua's daughters? Do you think they will raise their children with the same strict standards their mother applied to them?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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