When I finally read the article, I was overwhelmed by the visceral, gushing panic that springs forth as a result of my PTSD. I was raised by parents (one Chinese, one Vietnamese, both immigrants) who personified Chua's parenting style. In places, you could even say Chua was timid by comparison.
All my young life, my parents were quick to remind me of my stupidity. They constantly compared me to the children of their friends. They were particularly preoccupied with my lack of progress in school. Fixated on the idea that I was a slow learner, they confused my cautiousness for a lack of desire, and my need for affection as the wants of a spoiled American brat.
In telling me that I was a stupid, worthless waste of space, they believed they were spurring me on to do great things. By keeping me away from my friends, engrossed in several hours of teaching each day after school, my parents were confident they were helping me in every way they could. And no matter how hard I worked, or how obediently I obeyed their commands, it was never enough.
When the mind games -- and even beatings -- didn't make me smart enough, my parents resorted to an ancient Chinese "cure" for my stupidity. One Saturday morning in the third grade, they sat me down at the kitchen table and plopped a throbbing, round lump of pink flesh the size of a softball onto a plate in front of me. It landed with a splat.
I knew it was meat, but nothing I'd ever eaten before. The oblong hunk of flesh was a cow brain -- riddled with blood vessels and deep crevices that looked like tendons -- and my parents made me eat one every weekend for a year. I didn't get any smarter from the effort.
Three years ago, during a family gathering, my father confessed regret about his style of parenting. I didn't have a response for him. I wasn't sure of the right thing to say. Regardless, the damage has been done.
I feel for Chua's daughters and imagine they'll have similar conversations with her once they're my age. It's obvious today that Chua doesn't care to ask her children if her tiger techniques are overboard. But neither did my father. He never asked if a beating was unwarranted, and never questioned whether isolating me from the world was the best way to nurture his budding offspring. In his mind, he had done the right thing. My relatives had taught him that his duty as a father was to make sure his children succeed by any means necessary. Only by seeing me as an adult, with my children, did my father realize that there was a better way.
Now in my mid-30s, I appear to the world successful and happy. I'm a published writer, a successful executive, and even have a Ph.D. in psychology (though I never fulfilled my father's goal for me of becoming a doctor).
If I could say one thing to Amy Chua, it's that I would trade every bit of my success in life -- in a heartbeat I'd switch places with the guy who shovels elephant dung at the zoo -- to remove the scars left by a Tiger Mother.
Lac Su is the author of "I Love Yous Are for White People" (Harper Perennial, 2009). Follow him on Twitter @LacSu.