Has Tiger Mom gone soft? One year after the release of her controversial memoir, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," Amy Chua is back in the spotlight, reflecting on how overnight infamy affected her life, her family -- and her parenting.
"I've changed a lot," she told The Huffington Post. "In October, we had 30 kids at our house! [We've hosted] co-ed parties with lots of food and music."
Lest anyone forget, here's how it all started. Last January, the Wall Street Journal published an excerpt from Chua's book with the headline "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior." In the excerpt, Chua described how her daughters were never allowed to have sleepovers, appear in school plays, earn any grade lower than an A or have play dates with friends. A firestorm of criticism -- and more than a few jokes -- ensued. Chua, an author and professor at Yale Law School, spent much of 2011 on the defensive. In fact, many of her interviews seemed to lend fuel to her critics' fire.
Now, with the book out in paperback, the note Chua keeps hitting is that "Battle Hymn" was always meant as a memoir, not a manual.
Many of the scenes she described in the book are a far cry from the child-raising tactics she advocates. She said, "I put passages in the book and used very harsh words that I regret. Everybody has those moments you wish you could take back."
For those who still read "Battle Hymn" as an advice manual, Chua argues that so-called tiger parenting should be employed predominantly during a child's early years, ideally between the ages of 5 and 12. These "super-strict parenting tactics" are not meant for all ages.
Remaining strict after middle school makes you a helicopter parent, according to Chua. And she is quick to point out how different that is from being a tiger mom.
"By the time [kids] get to high school, helicopter parents are hiring all these tutors, carrying their kids' sports bags. I never checked [older daughter Sophia's] papers because I knew she knew how to sit down and focus," Chua said. "I know she is going to make mistakes in college ... but I'm so much more comfortable knowing that she's gonna make those mistakes at 19, not 13," Chua added.
As for younger daughter Lulu, 15, the rebel for whom the book was ostensibly written, Chua has really backed off.
Instead of forcing Lulu to practice violin for hours a day -- the source of their biggest fights -- Chua "let her give that up," she said. (Although she still argues for 15 minutes of practice time every few days.) "My compromise is that I'm going to still be as strict academically, but in exchange she has a lot of social freedom. Lulu has had four sleepovers in the last two months!" Chua said."
Chua predicts she'll only get more easygoing with age. When asked what type of grandparent she'll be, she laughed. "If my parents are any evidence, [I'll] be the softest kitty cat. ... They come to our house and buy my kids presents and stuff them with ice cream and brownies. My prediction is that I'll be on the extreme soft end," she said.
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