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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why Asian parenting and Western ideals of freedom shouldn't mix

Before you dive into a deep hole of criticism about my logic, hear me out. My perception, knowledge, and direction of approach may differ from others.


In my perception, the bottom line of Asian parenting is teaching your child to be obedient, loyal and responsible - the words of your elders are ultimate, be responsible and loyal to your family who raised you, be responsible at your job and make lots of money, and basically please everyone, and let everyone else walk all over you for the entirety of your life, all in the name of peace.


Low-key should be how life should be lived, in many aspects. Humility is a praised trait, and being conservative is expected. Basically, you blend into daily life as smoothly as the flowing water. You should never be proud or boastful, and always adhere to tradition and norms. Violation of which would lead to dishonor.


America isn't called the land of freedom for nothing - Americans fight for and in the very name of freedom. In general, Americans and Europeans emphasize freedom as a basic need and human right. Freedom of speech, action, thought, religion, and everything else, as is the freedom of speaking up for yourself.


Life should be lived with zeal, and they believe in fulfilling their own dreams. Parents who allow their children to continue living with them past the age of 21 are considered spoiling their children. Legal issues involving children demanding things from their parents in the name of freedom are increasingly common, but the ideal of freedom makes its leak to the Eastern parts of the earth anyway.


When you mix these two together, you get very confused children. Imagine you're an Asian kid who spent his childhood meddling in the media of the West - your parents tell you to listen to everyone, get the highest-paying major and career, and start saving up for your future children's future; but every other American movie tells you to follow your dreams, even if your parents disagree with it.


You get what I mean? You were raised with the "never talk back" concept, but you're encouraged to speak up for yourself. It's confusing, and painful.


Of course, you can't have everything. Each person has their own story, and each story isn't like the novels we read - they don't always have happy endings, and the emotions are seldom as aloft as the novels portray them. Perhaps emotions are better understood when they are felt, and descriptions never suffice.


My story is that I was raised with semi-traditional Chinese family values - respect your elders, listen to them, don't talk back, keep your opinions to yourself, the typical conservative aspects. But I exposed myself more to the ideals of the West, of freedom, ambition, and self-righteousness.


And as with every other modern human, I had my share of load juggling - the typical sibling rivalry, the long-term absence of my father as he worked abroad for a better life for us, the pressure of keeping up with my education, and peer pressure. As I grew up, of course, expectations were heightened, and my horizons slowly expanded, in directions that were deemed not too agreeable by traditional Asian standards.


So, you could describe my situation this way: I'm told to listen to everyone, obey everyone, but I found the concept of freedom more exciting. Even when I knew my mother would likely object, I did things anyway.


Another thing about the different ideals... The Asians typically believe in just keeping quiet about things and letting things mellow over time to preserve peace; while Western logic orients around being vocal but civilized whenever there is dissatisfaction or disagreement.


When you combine the two, what you get is a big pot of confusion. Encouraging the voicing of opinions but hacking them down with statements suggesting that they should have just swallowed it isn't really helpful.


Sometimes, things are the way they are for a reason, and they never mixed for a reason. While globalization is a good thing that encourages for wider acceptance of different cultures, some traditions and ideals should remain untouched by others.

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