What is a tiger mother

Upbringing: The "tiger mother" - role model or bogeyman?

With an educational battle cry, Amy Chua has turned armies of mothers against her in the United States. "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" is the name of the bestseller in which the daughter of Chinese immigrants describes the extremely strict, performance-oriented upbringing of her own children. She finds parents who only praise their offspring too lax. That brought the "tiger mother" insults and even death threats.

Preprinted in the "Wall Street Journal"

The fact that passages from the book under the provocative title "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior" were printed in the renowned "Wall Street Journal" angered many mommy bloggers even more against Chua. But after the initial excitement, a more thoughtful discussion has started in the US media and at dinner parties for the educated bourgeoisie. There must be something to the upbringing methods of Asian mothers, whose children get hold of so many of the coveted places at Harvard, Yale and Princeton, it is now said. Asian immigrants have long been regarded as a model minority, which is also economically more successful than all other population groups.

Practice the violin for two hours a day

Chua's daughters Sophia (18) and Lulu (15) were never allowed to watch TV, play on the computer or stay with friends. They had to learn maths and practice the piano or violin for at least two hours a day. And alas, they brought home less than a straight A. If the violin didn't work, her mother threatened to burn Lulu's favorite stuffed animal. Such extremes are also not well received by other US citizens of Chinese descent: "Parents like Amy Chua are the reason that Asian-Americans like me end up with a psychotherapist," wrote the journalist Betty Ming Liu.

Parents as role models

"You can say to your child as often as you like: You are great, you can do everything - in the end it has to prove itself in the world, and there is a different wind," countered Chua on the TV channel PBS. The 48-year-old, who studied at MIT and Harvard and is now a law professor at the elite Yale University, is modeled on her own parents: "Their high expectations, together with their boundless love, were her greatest gift to me."

"The best of both systems"

Such principles are shared by Bonnie Liao, co-founder of the new Princeton International Academy Charter School. This New Jersey state school will teach children five and older in Chinese from September onwards. "We all know that you need discipline to achieve something," says Liao, referring to international comparative tests. "Western parents demand too little from their children. They just build an artificial ego." She thinks little of the nocturnal drumming and draconian punishments for bad grades, as is still common in some Asian families: "In our school we try to combine the best of both systems."

The entrepreneur Rob Thomas and the environmental consultant Holly Welles, who have registered their four-year-old twins for the preschool class of the new school, are convinced of the concept. "I like the Chinese ethos of education," says Thomas. "And my children should later be able to move in a globalized economy in which China will play an important role."

Even the "tiger mother" had to give in

Amy Chua herself has meanwhile given in: Her book is not an educational guide, but the self-deprecating description of her experiences as a mother. In the end she had to give up many principles because the younger daughter rebelled when she was 13.

So is the "tiger mother" already tamed? Not really: "If I were faced with the same task again, I would do it the same way - with small corrections," says Chua. But what amazes her most is how her principles are portrayed as "Chinese": "Work hard, don't give up, don't look for excuses, take responsibility and be independent - for me these are all traditional American values," she says.

Amy Chua's book was published in German under the title "The mother of success: How I taught my children to win".