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On sale today: The Chinese mother's battle cry

January 11, 2011 | 12:04 pm

Battlehymnofthechinesemothe Parents intrigued by the essay "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior" that appeared in Saturday's Wall Street Journal can now go straight to the source.

Writer Amy Chua's "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," which the Journal excerpted, officially goes on sale in bookstores today. It's a memoir of what the publisher describes as "extreme parenting," the kind that results in high-achieving kids.

What's extreme? Well, many of the simple pleasures of childhood are not allowed by a Chinese mother: sleepovers, playdates, school drama productions, TV, computer games, A-minuses or below. Chua writes:

I'm using the term "Chinese mother" loosely. I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers, by choice or otherwise. I'm also using the term "Western parents" loosely. Western parents come in all varieties.

All the same, even when Western parents think they're being strict, they usually don't come close to being Chinese mothers. For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments 30 minutes every day. An hour at most. For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part. It's hours two and three that get tough.

This is the third -- and perhaps most controversial -- book for Chua, a professor at Yale Law School. "I can't wait to see the mommy backlash on this one," Susan Salter-Reynolds wrote in our pages Sunday.

Chua and her Jewish American husband have two daughters, who are being raised according to all the Chinese mother principles in Chua's book.

-- Carolyn Kellogg