A husband in the eye of Amy Chua, the Tiger Mother

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 23, 2011; 9:54 PM

Suppose you discovered before tying the knot that your sweetheart would someday morph into a screaming, nagging nana known as a "tiger mom." Would you marry her anyway? Heck, no.

And therein lies the real value of Amy Chua's new book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother." This is not a parenting guide. It's a cautionary tale about marriage: A wife is like a box of chocolates, fellows. Except that the chocolates bite you.

Look twice before jumping the broom.

Jed Rubenfeld, apparently, did not. While attending Harvard Law School, he fell for what at first blush appeared to be a demure, socially awkward 20-something classmate.

Poor Amy, the Asian American whiz kid, became so nervous around Jed's friends that she could hardly speak and had to force herself to talk, and, even then, "my sentences came out all garbled with weird words inserted in weird places," she writes.

How charming.

But once they married and Amy got her tiger mom claws in Jed, all of that garbling suddenly turned into growls.

"The disagreements between me and Jed were growing," Chua writes. "Privately, he'd tell me furiously to show more restraint or to stop making crazy overgeneralizations about Westerners."

Guess what? She never does. Grrr . . .

Many have reacted to Chua's book as if she were making a case for the superiority of Chinese-style parenting. Sure enough, her harsh disciplinary measures result in their two daughters excelling in school and music.

But the youngest, Lulu, still ends up yelling, "I hate you, I hate you," just like teenagers in that TV spot advertising professional psychological help for kids.

When asked to suggest a title for her mother's book, Lulu came up with this: "The Perfect Child and the Flesh-Eating Devil."

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