Conflict with decision making - Chinese inlaws - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 38 Old 02-21-2009, 04:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My inlaws are wonderful. I love them very much. And they are driving me over the edge. I have been a stay at home mom for this first year. My inlaws are constantly asking my husband why we are not getting a new house, why we don't have more money in savings... all to drive home their desire for me to return to work. They want to take care of my baby and they want me at work. I resent it very much. My inlaws also insist that I need to ween my baby from breast-feeding when she is one year old. We plan on breast feeding for two years. They also are blaming me for our baby's infrequent bowel movements...saying that my milk is not good for her, that she needs solids and water. Nevermind the fact that it is normal for BF babies to go as long as she goes. We have let our daughter try rice cereal and some fruit. She doesn't want anything to do with it. My inlaws want us to do cry it out, take our baby away when she's crying -- as if I'm causing her to cry -- and I think are just disrespectful to me. I feel like they want to raise my daughter and that they want me out of the picture! My husband is making me go back to work full time and I think that they are largely responsible for him not being willing to bend on this issue. I am very upset and don't know if this is a cultural issue or just a personal issue. It is causing serious problems in my marriage and I'm really worried about the future.

I was wondering if anyone else has had this kind of issue with their inlaws of different culture, maybe not Chinese even, and what you did about it. I have been told that this is a typical thing to happen in a Chinese family. I have also been told that I am not the one who is supposed to speak up about issues, my husband has to or it can cause a rift in the family. I want to stand up for my daughter but I don't want to cause problems in the family. I feel a horrible rift growing between me and my husband. I am also worried a about them taking care of my daughter while I am at work! I'm afraid that they will make her feel dirty for breastfeeding and that they might throw my milk away instead of giving it to her! I don't know what to do about it. I have asked my husband to stand up to them and he says he will, but he doesn't. It is like he is a child! I don't know what to do and I would really appreciate any advice any of you might have or any experience you may have with similar situations with multi-cultural families. Thanks in advance for your help!
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#2 of 38 Old 02-21-2009, 05:24 PM
 
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I don't think this is a Chinese in-law thing. I think it is a overbearing pushy in-law thing (or in H's case parent thing). I don't want to really tell half my life story here but you and hubby need to let mom in law know in no uncertain terms your the parents, they're the grandparents and they already had their turn. It can and will only get worse (first hand experience here, it will get WORSE). Same with the marriage and job issue. She has her own relationship to worry about, I assume, and even if not she has no business butting into yours and hubbys. Hubby needs to stand up to his mother and put what's best for his wife and child first. Same as the parenting issue, if he bows down to his mother when she tells him how to make relationship decisions (in this case the job) it will give her the green light to make other decisions for him. How to approach her in a respectable polite mother approving way about this though I can't help you with. I'm at an age were I don't worry about polite anymore. Good luck.
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#3 of 38 Old 02-21-2009, 05:31 PM
 
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I don't think this is a Chinese in-law thing. ....
I think it may be cultural. I know a couple of Chinese families where they have sent the young children back to China to live with the grandparents until they are 5 or so (this is from the school that I work in). I also know of someone's brother who is married to a Chinese woman & her parents always ask 'when's the baby coming here?' It's definitely a small sample size, but something I've seen.

But I totally agree that they are being pushy & overbearing! You & your dh have to sit down & decide what you both want as a family. He may think he is standing up for you, but it may not be well defined in his mind what he is standing up for.

Good luck - & it definitely needs to be addressed now.
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#4 of 38 Old 02-21-2009, 06:11 PM
 
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My in-laws are also Chinese. Grandparents taking care of their grand-children has become the modern view of what Grandparents do. My in-laws also thought they would be taking care of my son and taking him to China, as my husbands cousin's did with their children.

The generation before them were all cared for by their mothers and breastfed for 4-5 years. I breastfeed my 2.5 year old. They just view the way I raise my son as the old Chinese way.

It sounds like your in-laws do not want your daughter to rely on you for anything and that is why they want you to stop breastfeeding. Your husband should be the one to talk to his parents. Just keep on insisting.

Good-luck!
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#5 of 38 Old 02-21-2009, 07:24 PM
 
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I'd say no matter what the culture, don't put your child in the care of those you don't trust, and that may be something where you'll have to put your foot down with DH. As for the rest of it, there needs to be some serious and long discussion between you and DH, these things left too long can fester and do more damage.
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#6 of 38 Old 02-21-2009, 08:37 PM
 
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What a horrible situation to be in. I'm sorry. I don't have any advice other than pick your battles wisely and don't give up.

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I survived 16 mos! Ask me about breastfeeding a baby with posterior tongue tie, high palate, and weak oral motor skills- whew!

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#7 of 38 Old 02-21-2009, 10:36 PM
 
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Parts of this are just typical overbearing pushy ILs (if you search this forumn you'll find a lot of that,) and parts of it are cultural.

Which parts are which doesn't change what's most important here. These people can not be trusted to do what you wish while watching your child, they will do what ever they please.

Now I'm going to talk about the cultural aspects in ways that are frank. Obviously not every single Chinese IL will act this way (my FIL really isn't like this, but he choose to break from tradition in some ways.) From what you have said so far though, this will fit.
  • First off, unless you ILs are wealthier than you, them pushing for you going back to work is likely in part b/c they want more financial support from you and your DH.
  • Your DHs opinion doesn't matter. They feel he should just do as he's told by them, and it sounds like he has been well conditioned and is indeed just going along with them.
  • They will verbally agree to things then do whatever they want anyway. If they agree to give you child the pumped milk, they will almost certainly dump it and tell you she drank it while they actually feed her white rice and broth.
You need to just say no. Moving across the country will make it easier, but of course that might be impractical. You are an adult, this is your child, just say no. You DH is not going to go against the familly. He has been taught from a very young age that he is less important than they are and will always go along.

You are the only person here who is going to protect your baby. Be strong and say "no."

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#8 of 38 Old 02-22-2009, 02:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks to all of you. I went to my husband and addressed the milk issue, which is the most important issue of all. We are going to try to educate his mother and if she does not buy in, she will not be taking care of my daughter. My mom will take her full time. Of course we will not let my inlaws know this is the contingency b/c I don't want them to pretend to buy our philosophy. As for the annoying control issues... I think I don't have any solution except I'll be grateful the care and grin and bear it. Oh and bite my tongue and do what I know is best for my family.

Thanks again for all of your help, advice and experience!
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#9 of 38 Old 02-22-2009, 02:24 PM
 
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Parts of this are just typical overbearing pushy ILs (if you search this forumn you'll find a lot of that,) and parts of it are cultural.

Which parts are which doesn't change what's most important here. These people can not be trusted to do what you wish while watching your child, they will do what ever they please.

Now I'm going to talk about the cultural aspects in ways that are frank. Obviously not every single Chinese IL will act this way (my FIL really isn't like this, but he choose to break from tradition in some ways.) From what you have said so far though, this will fit.
  • First off, unless you ILs are wealthier than you, them pushing for you going back to work is likely in part b/c they want more financial support from you and your DH.
  • Your DHs opinion doesn't matter. They feel he should just do as he's told by them, and it sounds like he has been well conditioned and is indeed just going along with them.
  • They will verbally agree to things then do whatever they want anyway. If they agree to give you child the pumped milk, they will almost certainly dump it and tell you she drank it while they actually feed her white rice and broth.
You need to just say no. Moving across the country will make it easier, but of course that might be impractical. You are an adult, this is your child, just say no. You DH is not going to go against the familly. He has been taught from a very young age that he is less important than they are and will always go along.

You are the only person here who is going to protect your baby. Be strong and say "no."
I agree a lot with what eepster said. My parents are Taiwanese, my in laws are Korean. Much of what you have mentioned is common in East Asian cultures. Basically, they think that since they are the elders, that you should just do what THEY want you to do, if you are a, "dutiful" DIL, no questions asked. However, just b/c THEY believe that is what you should do, does not mean that they are right or that you should follow it.

I do not know if your in laws are from mainland China, HK or Taiwan and if your in laws even live in the US or not. If they live out of the country, I would just blow them off. You are your child's mother, know what is best for your child, if you suspect that they would not abide by your parenting style/rules if they care for your child, then I would say that is a good enough reason not to trust them. My own parents do NOT abide by my parenting style, so they rarely ever care for my children. They are very bitter about this and instead of taking responsibility for the fact that THEY are the ones who are being unreasonable, they place the blame on ME and try to guilt me about it. My in laws are somewhat similar, although recently they are a little bit more respectful of our parenting style, b/c my DH NOW STANDS UP FOR ME. Your DH needs to stand up to his parents, instead of letting them try to push you around.

If your in laws live close to you, I would move farther away from them if possible. They sound meddlesome and controlling and much of it has to do with the feeling that they are entitled to push you around, b/c you should respect them, unfortunately, respect is often a one way street with Asian parents, they do NOT respect their adult children. Basically, don't feel bad about offending them by standing up to them. I know that you want to, "make nice" with them, but ppl like this only want things THEIR way, they don't really care how you feel or what YOU want. You are your dd's mom, YOU decide how your child will be cared for. If you and your DH can afford for you to SAHM, then stick with that decision. My parents keep pushing for me to return to work as well, they think that we should have more $ saved (and we do own a house and two cars), and disagree with our decision for me to SAHM. I just basically blow them off. They are not happy with it, but oh well. I'm an adult, and I am a parent to my own children, they already had a chance to be parents, so I just basically tell them to butt out. Don't be afraid to say what you need to say, once you set your limits AND your DH stands behind you, they will back off. Your in laws won't be happy about it, but basically it sounds to me that if they get their way, then you will be a miserable person.
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#10 of 38 Old 02-23-2009, 04:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Things came to blow last night. I printed out some information for my DH's to share with his parents when they started complaining that I'm not feeding the baby enough solids and not weening her yet my husband confronted them. It was only the second time my adult husband (we are in our 30's) has done this in his life and he did a pretty good job considering. Well, his mom kept walking away from him and coming to talk to "her baby" -- my daughter. I told mother-in-law that my DH was trying to talk to her and I locked myself and our daughter in a bedroom. Well, inspite of the medical evidence, our pediatrician's advice and much, much information, my mother-in-law is not listening and is standing strong against us. So I'm putting my foot down and our daughter will not be going to the grandparents' home with out us, even when I return to work. It is going to be difficult for my husband but I know he will do what is best for our daughter. As for the issue that she might "dump the milk", my DH says non-sense but I really believe this is true and I'm not going to take the chance. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your honesty and encouragement. I feel like I have a friend in you (all). It means a lot to me. So thanks so very much.
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#11 of 38 Old 02-23-2009, 04:32 PM
 
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Saw this from new posts - stick to your guns mama!

I'm not in a multicultural family, but my ILs were much the same way.

They are only now allowed to be unsupervised with my six year old because they have refused to follow rules on health and safety issues.

It did cause some strain, and they are forceful people - but when they saw we weren't backing down, they laid off.

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#12 of 38 Old 02-23-2009, 09:05 PM
 
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My IL's are Chinese, and I feel your pain.

My dh made joke about his parents taking care of our baby (I'm only 11 weeks pregnant), and I laughed out loud. He got quiet, and I said, "Are you serious?? After you told me how you were raised?"

My dh is horrible at standing up to them, if you even want to call it that. He tends to ignore the situation and hope it just goes away. I've been accused of being "disrespectful", etc. But, since my dh won't stick up for me, I need to stick up for myself. After all, my IL's can't divorce me. DH could, but he loves me more than he loves his parents (right or wrong, just saying), so I think I'm ok there.

I agree w/pp that respect between my dh and his parents is NOT a 2 way street. I also think that it can happen between any family, although I wonder if it's more prevalent in Chinese families. His parents treat him like a 3 YO, and then they treat me that way by extension, and are obsessed w/ how much we make, how much we have saved, etc. It's like never ending. She'll even try to lecture me about my dh's spending habits. I told her, "you have to talk to him." And it's worse now that I'm pregnant, and alot of his parent's money is tied up in investments, so I guess they are feeling the pinch. And after traveling to China and Brazil for a couple of years, now they are worried about $ I guess.

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#13 of 38 Old 02-23-2009, 09:32 PM
 
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My ILs are from Russia and we have similar issues. DH and I have been together for about 9 years and our children are 3.5 and 15 months. The ILs would like to move in and take care of the children full time, and have me go back to work. That is the way most Russian families do it.

My DH has a hard time saying no to them, so I am the one to say no. I always smile and act as nice as I can, but I am very firm. Early in our marriage this would lead to fights with them, because they expected me to be the "docile DIL" and just do as they said without having my own opinion. They yelled at us many times, "We are the parents and you are the children! You must respect us and do as we say!" Eventually they learned that was not going to work.

They have adjusted now, and have a lot of respect for me and the way I do things. In fact, they are very proud of me and DH and how we are raising our children! They do still lecture DH and try to push him around when I am not there, but they don't dare do that when I am there. I think we have a pretty good relationship but it has not been easy!
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#14 of 38 Old 02-25-2009, 07:26 PM
 
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My mom is from Ukraine and we had similiar issues. While she did not really expect me to do things "her way" (after 30 years she know I'm doing what I think is best)-but she was "nagging" me toward insanity when she first came over to meet her Grandson.

She came over for a 4 week visit and it nearly escalated. All I wanted to do is get her a ticket for the next plane home, was awful. I had one big blowout, she was non stop nagging about things like chair covers, that I should "sew more fitting" and other stuff around the house- meanwhile I had a harcore screaming colicky 4 months old that was the embodyment of a 24 hour baby- and she is getting on my case for stuff like that.

First of all I would never ever let somebody with those kind of tendencies stay that long ever again. And secondly I just keep some personal info to myself. Our bank accounts (and what's in them) is our business and nobody else's. PERIOD. I don't debate what our loans are, interest rates of our mortgage or even how much our car costs. NADA. I love my parets dearly, but we all live better if don't feel obligated to share stuff like that- the more you share, the more some parents feel they are entitled to an opinion.

I also gently "refused" a very generous offer to help us out financially- because it is stuff like this that creates dependencies and obligations- and the sense of entitlement of behalf of the "giver" to tell you what to do.

Sometimes it's hard, because there is definitely some stuff that I do not talk about- finances, medical decisions (VACCINATIONS!) and some other personal stuff. Sometimes I need to zip it- I had to learn that.

I just try to enjoy the good parts-which there are plenty. But I also needed to learn how to stand up for myself. It's simply not okay when my mom wants to "make my DH better"- I'm his wife, not his mother and I ignore stuff like that. She loves my DH because he is a sweet, sweet guy- but I am not about to nag my husband about stuff, thanks a lot.

We are not our parents and it's simply not okay to manipulate our own children into obedience, just so we can get our "way".

So, my Son won't be flying to spend time with my parents by himslef anytime soon. (just because that's what our parents did with my grandparents)
That's it. End of story.

But OP- I hear ya. That's rough. Just do wha you need to do- what gives? Your MIL will have meltdowns regardless- so it's not like you making things "worse." Don't ever feel obligated to hand over your child when you're not comfortable with that idea. They are the adults- THEY can handle their own feelings- you are they to care for and protect your child- not an adult.

Your Husband might want to read Susan Forward's "Toxic parents" to get an idea what these feelings of obligation are, where they stem from etc-it's a good book.
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#15 of 38 Old 02-27-2009, 12:41 AM
 
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I second "mags" post. I don't have Chinese in-laws, but I have Chinese parents. And yes, they'll treat their adult children like 3 yr olds because respect is a one-way street in Asian cultures. Period.

to you, as you are going through conflicts on many levels. Get your DH to stand strong, as you and the kiddies come first now.

Good luck!

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#16 of 38 Old 02-27-2009, 01:04 AM
 
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I have Asian IL, and I am European raised. My DH stood for us, which is I believe the most important step. His mom wanted to watch my son but we got out of that graceful. I told her Grandma is for special occasions reserved. I still struggle with disrespect but now that have found my place as a mom I don't really waste my time anymore. It's our son, period. We make the rules. If I feel that the rules are broken, time will be limited. Sounds harsh, but it took me tears to get to that point. It works for me.
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#17 of 38 Old 02-27-2009, 05:21 PM
 
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I think this is very much a cultural issue. It's not so much a matter of right/wrong, it is a matter of conflicting cultural values.

Chinese culture values filial piety and obedience to parents, even from adult children. American values individual autonomy for adults. These values are in conflict in your case.

It sounds like you are doing everything right in this extremely difficult situation. You are helping your hubby stand up to his parents and draw boundaries for them. He is doing so, which must be fantastically hard for him.

I guess the only thing I'd like to say is that, if possible, try to take a compassionate rather than judgmental approach to your in-laws. Not saying you are being judgmental, I haven't got that from your posts, but some of the responses very much are. The inlaws are only being "pushy" and "toxic" from the American cultural perspective; from their Chinese perspective, they are doing the right thing and it is you and your husband that are being disobedient. See what I mean? Your post says that they are wonderful people whom you love, so it is possible they are not mean toxic people but rather just people acting in accordance to their cultural values.

Fortunately you have more power in this conflict, because the pivotal person (your husband) agrees with you and the American cultural perspective. This must be very painful for his parents and for him as well. So your role is to support him and sympathize with him, and to be as gracious as possible to your inlaws while at the same time remaining firm on your boundaries. Like, when they push to watch your child alone, rather than taking an approach along the lines of "you have no right, you are being too pushy, I am the parent!" you could approach it as "I know this is different than the way you were raised, but we believe that parents have the right to make these decisions, we love you and would like you to be involved but if you won't respect our decisions we will have to limit contact" blah blah.

Hopefully they will eventually accept those boundaries, and you can get back to having the warm, loving relationship you described at the beginning of your post .
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#18 of 38 Old 02-27-2009, 06:39 PM
 
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I second "mags" post. I don't have Chinese in-laws, but I have Chinese parents. And yes, they'll treat their adult children like 3 yr olds because respect is a one-way street in Asian cultures. Period.

to you, as you are going through conflicts on many levels. Get your DH to stand strong, as you and the kiddies come first now.

Good luck!

Gah!! Me Three in agreement with Mags and Eepsters posts.

Unfortunately in Chinese culture respect is a one way street. You always respect an elder, no matter what and it's all based on where you sit in the hierarchy.

To give you an idea on how ingrained it is in society. In the ancient time you were not even allowed to cut your hair or mark your body out of respect to your parents because it was what your parents gave you. (Blame it on Confucious) It's all about respect and they'll always know best.

Everyone's role in a chinese family is clearly outlined in what we call each other and it's the basis of how and who you show respect to. In the chinese language there is no single term for your grandfather, brother, sister, aunt, uncle etc. They specify every family relationship, for example my one Aunt I call her "san goo ma" (sorry bad phonetic spelling here) which means she's my father's 3rd oldest sister. And there is different word for an aunt who is married to my father's older brother or younger brother and a whole different set of titles for my mother's side.

In the Korean culture they even have a different more deferential way of speaking to elders where the younger set will add "yo" to the end of words. I believe it's like that in Japanese culture as well, I can't remember.

So blithespirit trust, trust, trust your instincts about your MIL dumping your milk. She will totally do it because she'll just do what she thinks is best and what you think or say isn't going to matter. And who is going to be any wiser?

Always leave it to your DH to deal with his parents, if you do it and it offends them it could be almost unforgivable and you basically become an outlaw. Your DH just has to learn to stand up to them and only as a last resort do you stand up to them if he doesn't do it for you. It'll be hard for him, we've been raised this way. It took me 30 years to stand up to my family, and it wasn't just my parents it was my aunts and uncles too. But I will say not all are like that and there are tons of wonderful, reasonable and respectful family out there.

The way we've found to deal with these types of family members is to:

A. Move far, far away like my cousin did from his mother (my san goo ma).

B. Just nod your head and act like you are listening to their unsolicited advice but don't comment and then do what you want.

C. Never volunteer information about your financial/personal/family situation where you don't want their opinion as it can turn into an invitation for them to give you advice which is basically them telling you what to do.
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#19 of 38 Old 02-28-2009, 01:37 AM
 
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Always leave it to your DH to deal with his parents, if you do it and it offends them it could be almost unforgivable and you basically become an outlaw.
Um, well, there are worse things in life than no longer being on speaking terms with your MIL :. At least I didn't actually have her arrested, she left willingly when the police showed up.

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#20 of 38 Old 02-28-2009, 02:48 AM
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I think part of the problem is cultural, part of it is personality. My in-laws are from Taiwan, and they love that I stay home with their grandsons...to them, it's like a status symbol! (I think they're also relieved that they don't have to raise their grandchildren -- they thought that was a real possibility because that's how they handled child care.) But my DH really had to stand up for our parenting choices, and he gets into shouting matches over the phone with his parents every week over their meddling...that part is most definitely a control issue and it is most definitely cultural. DH only calls his parents after I've taken the kids out of the house. It does help that they live in another state. DH's "bad cop" attitude allows me to play "good cop" with my in-laws and to showcase my maternal skills. His parents are finding fewer things to argue about as our little family thrives.

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#21 of 38 Old 02-28-2009, 12:18 PM
 
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Um, well, there are worse things in life than no longer being on speaking terms with your MIL :.
LOL! Yes, this! My DH got laid off soon after we were married and my mil was over-the-top with calling us at least FIVE times a day, asking if he had found another job, b/c she was sooooo worried. It was REALLY depressing for her to be constantly on our case about it, as if he was not trying to find a new job?!?! As if WE were not worried, as if WE were not stressed out???? Anyway, my DH finally got totally fed up with it and told his mom to stop calling us five times a day. Well, of course HER feelings were hurt (who cares about our feelings?), she went around telling ppl that she no longer felt comfortable calling us, b/c we told her NOT TO CALL HER! FTR, we told her not to call FIVE TIMES A DAY!!! At first I was annoyed, but then I realized the benefits of her holding a grudge against us. Since then, she no longer calls us five times a day. It was like a blessing in disguise that we pissed her off, b/c she has always given us more of a cold shoulder since that incident, which is fine by me. For a long time, she actually expected me to be her best friend, that was totally awful.

Fay, my brothers and I all regularly get into shouting matches with our parents when we have to talk to them on the phone. As my brother says, "I want to be nice to them, but they make it sooo hard." That is exactly the way I feel too. I really want to be nice to my parents, but they have this way of basically pushing us over the edge everytime they talk to us by nagging and being meddlesome and/or being extremely critical and putting us down. My parents used to expect weekly calls from us, those were the worst. Since I've had kids, I've really slacked in that dept (and they haven't bugged me, b/c they know I am busy, but I know they were still expecting these weekly calls from my brothers), but it's been good for my mental health. My mom just visited yesterday, b/c I really needed someone to watch the kids so I could attend my son's preschool parent/teacher conference and she was nice enough during the visit (rare, b/c usually she gets on my nerves at one pt or another, but I'm pregnant right now, so my parents have been nicer to me). Of course, she started to get nosy though (it's like they can't help it) and wanted to know if we had filed our taxes and what the outcome was (ie: how much did we owe or get back, what tax bracket are we in, etc.). I just kind of played stupid and said my DH took care of it and I hadn't had a chance to talk to him about it. My DH just snickered, b/c my mom will ask me all these financial questions, but she won't ask my DH about it, b/c she knows my DH will just brush her off.

My Korean mil is even worse. My DH stupidly answered her question when she asked him how much his salary is (same with bil, in fact last time both my DH and his brother changed jobs, my sil and I agreed we would not let mil find out how much our DH's salaries were) and the goes around BRAGGING to ppl about her sons' salaries!!!! Talk about unclassy and crass. Ironically, my mil thinks she is a very classy lady, she compares herself to Audrey Hepburn.
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#22 of 38 Old 02-28-2009, 07:28 PM
 
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what if your DH doesn 't want/can't/is afraid to stand up to his mother ?

my DH is British, not Chinese ..... but his family is into "control games" & I can't cope with that when my children are in the middle .... I've been banging my head on the walls for 9 years, my DH won't talk about it at all so I've finally put limits for their next visit = now THEY say they are the offended part and I'm terrible etc .....

I agree with a previous answer that there are worse things than NOT to be on speaking terms with your in-laws ....

But I resent that they put the blame on me when all I did was to put limits to what I was not comfortable with regarding my children + they absolutely don't seem to get the message at all about respecting our decisions etc ... so it does feel now like a lot of time lost for me and I'm still SO angry about the situation not progressing at all ....

+ and It saddens me that my children have so few relatives they get to see ....
maybe if I could get rid of that idea that my chilren NEED to see their grand-mother... (the irony is that she' s a little strange/not natural with children and they prefer to play with her husband, who is not their grand dad .....)

maybe I could be less upset by all that situation ?

thanks for writing the OP and all the answer, it's an education for me too in my quest for balance in our family life .....
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#23 of 38 Old 03-01-2009, 04:57 AM
 
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Different perspective....

A lot of the advice I see in this thread seems quite harsh: move away; distance yourself.

On the one hand, if one truly fears abuse and neglect, then it is of course, the right thing to do. But I think that to try and separate your husband and daughter from his side of the family because you are afraid that your in-laws nag a lot & *might* throw away your pumped milk, that path could be a sad one.

In our family, we have often done what Pokeyrin mentions:
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B. Just nod your head and act like you are listening to their unsolicited advice but don't comment and then do what you want.
This can work wonders. My DH explained this to me even before our eldest was born.

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My inlaws are constantly asking my husband why we are not getting a new house, why we don't have more money in savings... all to drive home their desire for me to return to work. They want to take care of my baby and they want me at work. I resent it very much.
Smile, nod. "That's an interesting idea..." and then continue to ignore them. Or "In this economic environment, it's better to save and be conservative".

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My inlaws also insist that I need to ween my baby from breast-feeding when she is one year old. We plan on breast feeding for two years.
Smile, nod. Ignore.

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They also are blaming me for our baby's infrequent bowel movements...saying that my milk is not good for her, that she needs solids and water.... She doesn't want anything to do with it.
How do they know how often your daughter poops? Make an agreement w/ your DH that if they ask, say something along the lines of "Oh, she's pooping normally".

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My inlaws want us to do cry it out, take our baby away when she's crying -- as if I'm causing her to cry -- and I think are just disrespectful to me.
It might be that, or they might SINCERELY want to help you (maybe they worried you're too tired?) and they hope that they can help calm the BB when she cries. Sometimes when my friends' babies cry, I take them for a while. Sometimes a change of arms helps. Other times they keep crying w/ me, but when I hand them back, they stop because after they've been crying in my arms, they are so happy to be back w/ Mama.

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I feel like they want to raise my daughter and that they want me out of the picture!
From my experience w/ my own mom and step-dad (who are Euro-American) it's a common phenomenon among grandparents to want to give (unsolicited) advice, and maybe butt in because they've already successfully raised children (often several) and they want to help THEIR babies (us) look after these new babies.

I also remember that when I was still recovering from the birth of our second child, my mom and step-dad took my eldest out for the day and fed her McDonald's (fries, coke(!!), Mcnuggets). She was only 22 months old! Yeah, I was a bit annoyed. But, I decided that overall, it was not a huge deal. They didn't make a habit of it.

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I am also worried a about them taking care of my daughter while I am at work! I'm afraid that they will make her feel dirty for breastfeeding and that they might throw my milk away instead of giving it to her!
"Make her feel dirty for breastfeeding"? - I have a hard time imagining how anyone could do that w/ a baby.

Maybe you could say that a condition of their looking after your DD would be that they MUST feed her the breastmilk? Show them LaLeche League materials in Chinese as well, or show them that it's "Doctor's orders"?

And if they did throw away the breast-milk....?

She would not be poisoned. You would also still be able to feed her in the evenings and all day on the weekends. You could still maintain a nursing relationship with her.

Warning: I am writing from the perspective of a mother who went back to work when her babies were about 3 months old and who weaned them to formula when they were about 5 months old. My kids are now 11 and 13 (almost) and they are healthy and lovely kids. I know exclusive breast-feeding is medically the best thing, but sometimes economic and cultural situations mean that perfection can be forgone.

I just want to give you some support, but also [gently] suggest that these issues may not be worth breaking up your family over, and that compromise may be possible.
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#24 of 38 Old 03-01-2009, 01:41 PM
 
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SKreader, I hear all of what you say .....
but then I don't see that you seem to envisage the aspect of "respect" of the parent as a parent ....

I mean that the grand parent had a turn at using their own ideas with their own children (... or maybe not if they were forced to do things they didn't like by their own previous generations ....) .... it might be difficult for them to accept that they are no longer parents of young children but that they are one rung later on the ladder .... and wishing to do well is no excuse for forcing other people to do what they don't feel like doing of feel uncomfortable doing .....

so I wonder how you can justify the idea that adult children cannot have a go themselves at using their own ideas with their own children ....AND be respected in their role of parent who is standing on their own two feet making decisions for themsleves, their own life and their own children ... according to their own beliefs .... and who says that every adult child is obliged to believe precisely the same things as their parents on every subject ????

when I read all the answers to the OP, what stikes me is that it often feels that it is a question of control struggles from the grand parents and of limits to what is acceptable (and that changes with every person, & and why shouldn't it be so ?) that are not respected....

.... I can see a pattern that I've had in the past few years ....
well, I did breasfeed a bit longer than you did, I choose to do that because that was what seemed best to me for my child and myself at the time .... and after all when people live in a democracy, they are entitled to make their own choices about their personal lives ....

& the only trouble I had about breasfteeding were with people who had decided that they knew better than me what I should do or FEEL even ....(yes, my MIL told me once that I shouldn't feel what I felt because it was not what she meant ..... I was just SO SO SO surprised by such an idea !!!! how can someone her age still imagine that they can control what other people FEEL ..... ) ..... or which social model I should follow, or even what psychological problems I had when I didn't conform to what they thought an ideal mother should be etc ....(that was at the day care center ... they had to back down on eviction for cause of breasfeeding when confronted with basic facts of life ....& the discriminative implications of their own behaviors ....)

I believe that type of interference is abusive ....
I don't belive it's normal at all

It might not be physical abuse but it is psychological abuse
.... and having to stand people telling you over and over what seems totally alien to you ... and pretend that it's not jugemental and that the insistance doesn't end up bothering you ....
it doesn't seem natural .....

I realise that for some mother who wish to return to work, it works well for them if the grand parent is very active in their help with the grand children .... but I don't belive that every grand parents should expect to be able to take over the upbringing of their grand children and impose their own beliefs and ways of doing things on their adult children .... especially when the spouse is from a different culture .... (AND might not actually think that the grand parents did such a wonderful job raising their own children since the arrival of children in a couple may awaken some deepseated conflicts from their own childhood, that were not apparent during courtship and only re-surfaced when the spouse became a parent themselves ......)

what worries me in such situation is
-how am I going to teach my own children to stand up to bullying if I have to put up and nod to people who insist I should do what they want me to which is totally alien to my own beliefs and feelings , even though it might be with the best intentions, that is not the point, the point is that it is disrespectful to insist and insist when someone already said no ..... isn't it like emotional rape?

I hope what I wrote didn' offend you, I 'm open to further discussion on that subject that is a great preoccupation of mine these days ....just my little one just woke up ......so I must stop now ....
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#25 of 38 Old 03-01-2009, 09:23 PM
 
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Skreader, the thing is some of us have spent our ENTIRE lives having to politely nod our head and, "respect" elders when their opinions often are totally out of sync with our own or just downright rude and inappropriate. Basically, many of are were telling the OP, that SHE is the mom, SHE should parent her child. She should not be bullied around by family, even if her in laws mean well (by their own definition). Her in laws got to be parents, now it's the OP's turn to be the parent and she should be able to parent the way she wants to w/o being made to feel small about her choices being different from those of her in laws. When you nod your head all the time and politely listen and then have to try to ignore ALL.OF.THE.TIME it really eats away at you. FTR, my brothers and I have spent our entire lives doing this, nodding our heads and pretending to listen to our parents. We are all in our 30's now and just no longer have anymore tolerance for this kind of BS. Due to us having been so passive in the past to, "respect" our parents, now they basically feel entitled to push us around and if we don't follow their advice, they amp up their pushiness to the point where it IS abusive. The constant guilt tripping, the manipulation, a lot of us are just sick and tired of it and are sick of being made to feel like we are 3 yr olds and not intelligent adults. At some point you have to stand up for yourself, not only for your own self worth, BUT to be a good example for your children. I don't want my children to think I am a doormat.
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#26 of 38 Old 03-01-2009, 10:23 PM
 
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My husband is the expert at nodding his head and ignoring his parents, and that's what he wants me to do, too... but it's hard, especially when I was raised in a family where respect is a 2-way street.

My parents never questioned my parenting, even though I did things alot different than them. (Breastfeeding, no circing, etc.)

It is def a cultural clash. Here's the rub- when I'm honest with his parents (my MIL, really) about something that is bothering me, or I don't agree with, she nods and ignores me, too... then tells my dh how disrespectful I am. So, apparently, any issues I have, I'm supposed to tell my dh and then he'll tell his parents. Except he really won't do that, and I can speak for myself. Usually, now, I just try not to say anything. But, then it builds, and something comes bubbling out.

I actually really like my in-laws in general. The "meddling" is impossible to deal with. I do try very hard to be respectful of their culture, but here's the issue- I have a cultural background, too. And they don't show any respect for that- it's their way, or it's WRONG. I don't believe any one culture is better than another... but, his parents moved to our culture, had their children here, raised them rather mainstream American, and then both their sons married American women. Frankly, I'm not sure why my MIL is shocked that I don't act like an Asian DIL.

Now, if they had all lived in China their whole lives and I moved over there and we married, then I could understand their surprise if I didn't fit the mold. But, after 30 some odd years here and having their children here... I don't think it should be that shocking that when their ds married an American... she acts like an American.

Mom, wife, full-time student.  And tired.  DH, DS#1 (9/99) and DS#2 (9/09), and 2 dogs.

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#27 of 38 Old 03-02-2009, 01:08 AM
 
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Well, as I said, I was offering a different perspective.

The OP also wrote that she feared a rift was growing between her and her in-laws and her husband.

I just wanted to suggest that compromise, tolerance, or tuning people out can help to preserve peace in the house, and thus the connection between the generations. Not that it should be preserved at all costs, but it is something precious.

Maybe I'm just lucky that my DH and I are as bossy & loud as our mothers and that both our mothers breastfed, so that was not an issue.
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#28 of 38 Old 03-02-2009, 01:20 AM
 
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It is def a cultural clash. Here's the rub- when I'm honest with his parents (my MIL, really) about something that is bothering me, or I don't agree with, she nods and ignores me, too... then tells my dh how disrespectful I am. So, apparently, any issues I have, I'm supposed to tell my dh and then he'll tell his parents. Except he really won't do that, and I can speak for myself. Usually, now, I just try not to say anything. But, then it builds, and something comes bubbling out.
Lol, Sharon, I had to laugh at this, b/c this is how it is with both my parents (Taiwanese) and my mil (Korean). If they aren't happy with what you have to say, they pretend not to hear it. My mil does this a LOT. Where I will do/say something that she is not happy with, instead of just saying something to me, I end up hearing about it from my DH, which of course pisses me off royally since she is basically bitching about me to my DH behind my back. My parents will often complain to my siblings about something I did or said and then of course I find out from my siblings (they are not trying to cause trouble, but we are pretty open with letting one another know when the parental units are not happy).

Oh and I totally get you about the crazy, unrealistic expectations. Even my parents, who moved from Taiwan, to the US, THEN had my brothers and I get upset when we are, "too American." We ask them, "Why did you move to America if you didn't want us to be American" and they end up giving us some song and dance about their sacrifices and how we're so disappointing. FTR, my parents did not leave Taiwan under any kind of bad circumstances, they actually would have been better off STAYING in Taiwan, both socially and financially. My dad actually said something about how he thought we'd be too stupid to survive the academic rigor in Taiwan, so that's why he came to the US. Thanks dad for having such low confidence in your children, who at that time did not even yet exist...

Oh and my mil, she was (and still is) very upset that my DH did not marry a Korean girl. She actually told my DH after we had been dating for a yr, that he HAD to marry a Korean girl so that SHE could have someone to talk to when she was old. Nevermind, whether or not my DH would have been happy with a Korean girl hand plucked by his mother, who cares about him being happy, it's all about HER happieness. Ironically, bil actually married a Korean girl, to appease his mother (although my DH thinks that the only reason he got away marrying me was b/c his brother was the oldest son, so his brother definitely HAD to marry Korean) and my mil and sil get along like cats and dogs. I believe that part of it, is that b/c there are some communication issues (my in laws, although they have lived in the US for over 30 yrs, have really horrible English and they do not even live in a city with a high Korean population, they just never tried to assimilate at all to America), I tend to give my mil the benefit of the doubt. My sil, who did not come to the US until she was in her late 20's, is of course fluent in Korean and understands what my mil says loud and clear, nothing lost in translation. My sil actually told me, "M, please don't judge all Korean mils from our experience with our mil, she is one of the worst Korean mils ever, I do not know anyone else with a mil like ours." So, weirdly enough, even though I do not like my mil, I think that she gets along better with ME than with the coveted Korean dil that she so desperately wanted.

My brother married a Taiwanese American and she is always, "failing" in the dept of my parents' expectations as well, they expect her to act like a traditional Taiwanese dil, but she's not, she's Taiwanese American, born and raised, JUST like my brother, YET they still expect her to be traditionally Taiwanese. My brother though is pretty good about just telling my parents to stop it, but I still feel bad for my sil, I know my parents put a lot of pressure on her to fulfill some sort of weird expectations. My other brother married a Cantonese American and my parents like her a LOT, b/c she is very passive and will nod and act like she is interested in their unsolicited advice, and b/c she is not of Taiwanese heritage, they don't quite have the same expectations of her as they do of my other sil. My other sil doens't really take the garbage that my parents put her through and they see it as a sign of disrespect, which is really irritating. Of course, my brother also deals with issues with his wife's parents as well, although they do favor my brother, b/c he's their only Taiwanese son in law out of all of their daughters.

I basically think that it boils down to Asian parents are just so difficult that no matter what you do, they will never be happy. At least that is how I feel regarding both my parents and my DH's parents and my friends who are Asian feel the same way as well. In many ways, I've given up trying to please my parents and mil for my own mental well being.
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#29 of 38 Old 03-02-2009, 01:53 AM
 
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so I wonder how you can justify the idea that adult children cannot have a go themselves at using their own ideas with their own children ....AND be respected in their role of parent who is standing on their own two feet making decisions for themsleves, their own life and their own children ... according to their own beliefs .... and who says that every adult child is obliged to believe precisely the same things as their parents on every subject ????
Hi IsaFrench,

I didn't think that I was implying that people should not follow their own beliefs on what they think is right and proper in raising their own children.

I thought I was advocating listening to what the over-bearing in-law was saying, and then either:

A) ignore it, or

B) Briefly state one's own position, like when I suggested the reply about buying a bigger house etc. that they want to be more conservative (fiscally) in this economic climate.

Quote:
It might not be physical abuse but it is psychological abuse
.... and having to stand people telling you over and over what seems totally alien to you ... and pretend that it's not jugemental and that the insistance doesn't end up bothering you ....it doesn't seem natural .....
I agree, that sounds very abusive and is something that I've never encountered in my life.

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but I don't belive that every grand parents should expect to be able to take over the upbringing of their grand children and impose their own beliefs and ways of doing things on their adult children .... especially when the spouse is from a different culture .... (AND might not actually think that the grand parents did such a wonderful job raising their own children since the arrival of children in a couple may awaken some deepseated conflicts from their own childhood, that were not apparent during courtship and only re-surfaced when the spouse became a parent themselves ......)
I agree completely that no one has the right to control the upbringing of their grandchildren and impose their beliefs on them. However, we cannot say that they are completely disinterested parties either. Unless we want to completely break with our families of origin, we will sometimes have to deal with our parents and parents-in-laws ideas that are quite different from ours. Then, it becomes a question of choosing our battles.

My m-i-l thought it was very important that our babies tummies be wrapped up in their first few days. Also she and my DH were convinced that the babies' stomachs should never be exposed to air when sleeping (always wear at least an undershirt) when they were infants. To me, that was not something I would have done myself. But, it seemed like a pretty small issue, so I was "whatever" & followed this practice.

Other things, that have major impact on the health and well-being of the child, then of course you have to do what you think is right, in the face of opposition. But when I read the OP (and I may have mis-read it) it seemed that so far the major issues seemed to be:

* In laws hinting broadly that she go back to work
* Husband not calling them on the broad hints
* Mother-in-law saying she should wean at one year
* Fears that IF she did go back to work & IF they looked after the baby, they MIGHT not feed the baby expressed milk,

So, I thought if the main thing she is dealing with is hints and fears of "what if", she might be able to deal with it in a way that was a half-way point between:

A) "Yes, mother-in-law, whatever you say",
and

B) "I will not listen to your wrong-headed ideas. She is MY baby and if you keep talking this way, you won't see much of her in the future."

I also did suggest that she make it a condition of their looking after the baby that they feed the baby the expressed milk & also suggested providing La Leche info in Chinese [http://www.llli.org/docs/chinese/ChinesePrevent.pdf] or to say that 's doctor's orders.

Quote:
what worries me in such situation is
-how am I going to teach my own children to stand up to bullying if I have to put up and nod to people who insist I should do what they want me to which is totally alien to my own beliefs and feelings , even though it might be with the best intentions, that is not the point, the point is that it is disrespectful to insist and insist when someone already said no ..... isn't it like emotional rape?
I meant nod as in "I'm hearing you", but not as in "Yes, I agree with you, and do as you say."

As for listening to people "insist and insist" = emotional rape. Sometimes I'm sure it must be and then the only recourse is to leave.

Other times it may be a sort of background noise ("Oh yeah, that's her, nagging again...ho..hum... she'll finish in about 2 minutes and then we can move onto that interesting recipe I was hoping she'd share...") that someone can easily ignore - so dependent on situation and personality and power dynamics. Situations alter cases.

Quote:
I hope what I wrote didn' offend you, I 'm open to further discussion on that subject that is a great preoccupation of mine these days ....just my little one just woke up ......so I must stop now ....
It's a fine thing to discuss, and I'm not offended. I think that these discussions can lead into all sorts of interesting realms:

* questions of kinship & responsibility

* questions of authority - what is legitimate authority & who possesses and when?

* questions of culture & psychology - when is listening and ignoring a valid strategy, and when does it devolve into pathological passive-aggressive weirdness?
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#30 of 38 Old 03-02-2009, 02:09 AM
 
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SKreader,

Like mags, I've spent 30+ yrs nodding politely and doing something else. And my Chinese parents nod politely and proceed to trash me behind my back when I do *something else*. It gnaws on you after awhile.

I'm not trying to say that any one culture's approach is superior or better than another, but oh boy I wish the drama would stop. And some pp mentioned that it's important to be authentic, if only so our children can learn from us by example.

Yes, there are worse things than in-laws not being on speaking terms. My late mom and my paternal grandma had some classic MIL-DIL tensions that sparked a 25 yr cold war whereby my dad was basically forbidden from having normal contact with his family of origin. I don't think all the nodding politely and doing your own thing on either side can ever give US KIDS back those 25 yrs that we didn't have contact with our grandparents.

Perhaps if my dad had taken the extraordinary diplomatic step to make my mom feel like he was sticking up for her, things might have been different...

Like the other pps, I would often ask my parents while ripping out their hair and spewing disparaging remarks about what failures we were, WHY THE HECK DID YOU MIGRATE HERE?!? And their hopes and dreams of us taking the best of both Western & Eastern cultures were dashed because apparently they never told us ahead of time which elements of Western culture they did NOT want us to emulate.

On a recent visit to HK, I spoke with a friend of mine, an older lady in her 50s married to a Chinese man who is the eldest son. We both agreed that sometimes "saving face" is highly overrated. Yes, sometimes it's nice to say you are being gentle on the other party involved, but it can be a convenient escape clause so you don't have to admit or say you're sorry... so much for authenticity and taking responsibility for one's actions...

Sign hanging in Albert Einstein's office at Princeton: Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts.
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