If you had Asian parents, did your upbringing help you get ahead in life? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 33 Old 12-21-2009, 02:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My father recently purchase this book about how Asian American parents raise top-achieving children. The book itself doesn't say anything that would be news to any good parent (ie, get involved with your kids, have a say in their classroom, etc, etc). But even overlooking that, it was kind of a useless purchase, IMO, as I, their only child, am now 34. I am Chinese and I think I was raised in the typical Asian way: expected to get straight A's, taught to play classical music (either piano or violin), expected to excel at math and science, and expected to go to an Ivy League school, become a doctor or lawyer, or engineer. Well, I rebeled, sort of. It is still a bit of a sore point with me the style of parenting they gave me. Does every Asian parent teach all these things, and if so, did they do it through fear-mongering? My parents immigrated to America in their mid-30's and maybe had a huge complex about being underdogs and having to get ahead and so for them, it was sooo important that I not flounder behind, that they would yell and scream at me in order to hit the point home to me. I do know that most of their friends have the same basic expectation of their children, and actually, a lot of them do end up attending great schools and are very successful, kind of fitting the stereotype. Your thoughts?
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#2 of 33 Old 12-22-2009, 03:13 PM
 
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i'm not asian ,but my dh is from india, what i've concluded is that those that have a chance to go to school are expected to excel because going to school in india is not something everyone gets the chance to do. And if you get to come to the usa for college, then you are really really lucky. My il's sold off land to send dh to the usa to go to college and my dh got 2 master's degrees moved to houston and started working and then didn't like it and stopped. He is now a car salesmen and when we went to visit, his parents wanted him to use his degree,but in things like computers, you can't just pick it back up again you have to relearn and learn concepts. Are they happy that their son came to the usa for college, ended up marrying an american and a became carsalesmen, probably not, but once a child is grown and out of the house, it is much easier for them to think for themselves, and oftentimes they will do what they want despite their parents. But i will also say that no my dh is not a doctor or computer researcher, but everything he has done work wise he has had an impeccable work ethic and makes above average salary for our area, so what he puts his mind to, he will succeed in it.

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#3 of 33 Old 12-22-2009, 07:04 PM
 
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I'm asian american. My parents immigrated to the US in the early 70's and my siblings and I were all born here. All I can say is that I did NOT enjoy growing up being brought up by asian parents and neither did my siblings. I feel like I am seriously scarred for life. The fear mongering was horrible, the verbal abuse with constant put downs about how we were never good enough, my parents were just plain mean to us as far as I am concerned. I did not feel that their love was unconditional, it seemed like it was all based on whether or not I would perform like a monkey for them. They acted like our existence was to serve them as some sort of trophy, and if we did not fulfill their expectations (which we didn't, even though all of us turned out well, my father will go to his grave thinking that his three children were all a bunch of failures, b/c we didn't go to harvard), they lay on the guilt and nag, nag, nag about how ungrateful we are. I just really dislike the way that 1st gen asian american/candian parents push their kids. It's not in a healthy way. It's in a slave driver, abusive, breaking your spirit type of way. I've vowed not to be the same way with my kids. If my parents bought me that book, I would have given it back to them right away and told them how damaging their parenting (actually it's more like LACK of parenting) was.

I do not feel that the way I was brought up, put me ahead in life. In fact, due to extremely low self esteem (same with my siblings), I would say that the authoritarian, fear mongering way my parents brought us up actually set us BACK. They also taught us to let other ppl step on us. If we were bullied or teased, due to our race, our parents did not want us to fight back, they wanted us to, "ignore" it. So, as you can see, being bullied and teased was a big part of my siblings and my own childhood, seeing how we lived in a rural area where there were maybe only 4 Asian families and just as few black families. I am almost 40 and STILL have not recovered from the lack of self worth. My self esteem started to slowly improve after I went off to college, but it has been a very difficult and the worst part is the anger I feel towards my parents for the way they treated me (and still treat me). My siblings and I all turned out ok, career-wise, but it was not easy and all of us went through a period where we were not sure if we wanted to have kids our not, b/c our own childhoods sucked so much. Two of us have had kids, one has decided not to, but for medical reasons. Our parents were not supportive and constantly putting us down (they think this is a good way to motivate, and if you say something postiive to your kids, they become lazy) really wore down on us. I look back now and just feel that we were verbally and emotionally abused. We were pushed harder than any of my non-Asian friends were and quite honestly, I'm surprised that neither my siblings or myself cracked. We were beaten too, but not to a pulp, b/c I think my parents knew that if there was physical evidence of abuse, that they would get reported by the school.

I do want to add that academically, my siblings and I all excelled. We were the top of our class. The problem is that most 1st gen Asian American parents think that academics is ALL that matters and due to this kind of thinking they think that sacrificing their children's happiness or emotional health is a small price to pay. Basically, they feel that THEY control what you will do, and your job as the child is just to do as they say, no questions asked. What I find most strange is that now that my siblings and I are all adults, my parents are upset that we are not close to them. After being brought up in a very cold way of parenting and being treated like we were race horses, not human beings, and individuals, they still believe that everything is our fault, not their fault. Basically, now it's our fault that we do not want to spend time with them. Sadly, our parents do not really know us at all. All that I know is that I parent my children pretty much the completely opposite from the way I was parented. It is difficult and awkward for me to do this, b/c it doesn't seem natural, seeing how I was raised so differently. However, I hope that I will be able to raise children who do not end up with the emotional baggage that I have had to deal with.
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#4 of 33 Old 12-22-2009, 09:33 PM
 
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I am Asian-American and I think my upbringing did get me ahead, but in the areas that I wanted and felt were important to me. My mother was always supportive and pushed me to do my best. She always knew when I was slacking off and not trying. I was tested highly gifted in the 3rd grade, so she knew what I was capable of and if I performed below that without a good reason I knew it would disappoint her. Education was very important to her because she came to the US with no knowledge of the culture of language here. She was a single parent with two children an no help, so she struggled and she did not want us to struggle and education was the key. She made sure we studied hard enough to be able to get into universities if that was our choice. My brother and I both were accepted to the universities of our choice, but I chose not to go. I wanted something different.
My mother never yelled or used fear mongering to get us to do our best but I hated to disappoint her so I studied and studied to go beyond what my classmates were doing or what the teacher expected of the class.
And like most Asian parents, she did not praise very often, but I knew she was proud of me. She used to buy me little presents and leave them either in my school bag or put them on my bed.

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#5 of 33 Old 12-23-2009, 11:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Mags, your household sounded just like mine except I don't have any sibs and we didn't live in a rural area. Shianne, on face value, your situation should have been even more of a negative experience b/c your mom had an even tougher struggle, but it was a positive experience for you. Was your mom just all in all a positive person? Do you think she harbored any negativity toward the place she immigrated to? My dad definitely did.
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#6 of 33 Old 12-23-2009, 11:42 AM
 
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This is something that has interested me for a while. I don't think it's limited to Asian parents, I see it in Indian parents, Pakistani, and Arab as well, anywhere on the planet where the majority of people are living in poverty but where schooling offers a fundamentally lifechanging future. Will you be a tea boy (in the case of my husband's home country) or a doctor? There's very little in between.

So my husband has this same mentality when it comes to educating our kids. I am American born and have a fairly typical American outlook -- education is important but we're going for the well-rounded kid. There are many things I admire about my husband and his family, and we will probably stress education a bit more than an average American household. But I'm already getting into "discussions" with him (won't call them arguments) because I want a more experiential type of education for the kids, like Montessori and other progressive approaches, while he thinks the more homework the better.

I care very much about our kids' emotional health as well, and agree with PP that the authoritarian parental approach to stressing education can be damaging. There has got to be a happy medium in there somewhere, IMO.
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#7 of 33 Old 12-23-2009, 01:34 PM
 
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Shianne, on face value, your situation should have been even more of a negative experience b/c your mom had an even tougher struggle, but it was a positive experience for you. Was your mom just all in all a positive person? Do you think she harbored any negativity toward the place she immigrated to? My dad definitely did.
I think my mom tried to be positive. She had strong work ethics whether it be toward school or secular work. She didn't complain, she just did what she had to do. I loved to study and learn so I think that really helped.

I don't think she had any negativity toward coming here. I never heard her say she wished she had never left nor did I ever hear her say she wanted to go back. I wished she had gone back.
On the other hand, it was my father's side (with the exception of my grandfather) that was verbally, physically abusive, not towards my brother but towards me and my mother. That was very, very sad.

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#8 of 33 Old 12-23-2009, 04:30 PM
 
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I grew up with Korean-Canadian and Chinese-Canadian friends who had the same upbringing as Mags. They did get 'ahead', if ahead means becoming a doctor/dentist and making lots of money. OTOH their childhoods and adolescents were horrible - forced to do violin/piano, after-school tutoring via Sylvan/other learning centres, parents who always put them down/never praised them, were harsh, no-shows of physical affection. They're bitter, and vowed not to raise their own kids like that.

I think it's an immigrant/over-population mentality. If you come from a country where if you AREN'T like that, your life is basically ruined (no place in good university = no good job = limited life choices and prospects), I can understand it. Perhaps also it's identifying success with material acquisitions, which is a result of emerging capitalist markets.
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#9 of 33 Old 12-23-2009, 05:19 PM
 
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My DH has sansei (Third generation in the US Japanese-American) parents, and my mom is technically sansei as well (one parent is a nisei aka second generation in the US, the other is an immigrant).

Japanese-American kids tend to have a slightly different experience growing up because our parents are more integrated into American culture. The expectation to excel is still there, but it's not quite as intense. We're expected to get good grades, to go to college and have good careers, but it's not at the expense of our social lives, or our choices of what we actually want to do with our lives.
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#10 of 33 Old 12-23-2009, 10:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The thing I was really trying to tease out is: On what kind of person does the 'typical Asian parenting style' actually accomplish it's intended purpose? The intended purpose being of course, a degree from a prestigious school and a job in a high-earning field. You know, like in the laboratory, if you try to culture Salmonella on a certain kind of medium in a petry dish, some mediums will let the bacteria flourish, and some will not. I was definitely one of the latter, I mean, my father's constant criticism, screaming, anger, fear-mongering just built up a lot of resentment, and I think subconsciously, I think I began to sabotage myself whenever I started to become successful at something just to cut off any chance my father could pat himself on the back for a job well-done. I so desperately wanted him to wake up and change his parenting style, which of course would never happen, that I just became an angry resentful daughter who couldn't go after my dreams.
On the other hand, my cousin supposedly got the same upbringing, from what I've heard, although we're not in contact with each other. He's related to me through my mother, not my father's side, though, so that could have something to do with it. He's very successful. Got a full scholarship to Berkely, is making high six figure in LA now, and wants to go for a grad degree to become a doctor or lawyer. The times that I've visited him, he seemed like very eager to please kind of person, no cinicism at all (very opposite to me). Not trying to put him down or anything. Maybe it takes that kind of personality?
ETA: I don't mean to imply here that a high paying job is what everyone should be after. I'm totally of the opposite viewpoint.
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#11 of 33 Old 12-23-2009, 11:14 PM
 
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My father recently purchase this book about how Asian American parents raise top-achieving children. The book itself doesn't say anything that would be news to any good parent (ie, get involved with your kids, have a say in their classroom, etc, etc). But even overlooking that, it was kind of a useless purchase, IMO, as I, their only child, am now 34. I am Chinese and I think I was raised in the typical Asian way: expected to get straight A's, taught to play classical music (either piano or violin), expected to excel at math and science, and expected to go to an Ivy League school, become a doctor or lawyer, or engineer. Well, I rebeled, sort of. It is still a bit of a sore point with me the style of parenting they gave me. Does every Asian parent teach all these things, and if so, did they do it through fear-mongering? My parents immigrated to America in their mid-30's and maybe had a huge complex about being underdogs and having to get ahead and so for them, it was sooo important that I not flounder behind, that they would yell and scream at me in order to hit the point home to me. I do know that most of their friends have the same basic expectation of their children, and actually, a lot of them do end up attending great schools and are very successful, kind of fitting the stereotype. Your thoughts?
I had to laugh a little at your description--pretty much fits my upbringing to a T, although my parents immigrated to the US one generation later (in the 60s). The music lessons, straight As, Ivy League schools...it's a very common experience I think.

I, personally, am no worse for the wear. I'm a SAHM now, but yes, I have a degree (and a MS) in a scientific field. My DH is a scientist. My sister is a SAHM, too and her DH is a businessman. I guess the son-in-laws "count" for mom, she's supportive of the SAHM role. My brother is a doctor, which of course is the most perfect thing to her ever.

My teenage years weren't ruined--I had a lot of fun and enjoyed high school. I don't suffer from low self-esteem. I think a lot has to do with my personality. Even though my mother (and it really was my mother, my father was very hands-off) was negative, pushy, critical, etc. I know she did it out of love and I was able to handle the criticism. I do freely admit that I was a bit of a slacker and although I could have managed straight As, I generally coasted along with B+s, much to my mother's chagrin.

Personally, I think a lot of that expectation and work ethic has to do with being Asian immigrants, not just Asians in general. If you think about it, these are the same people who were willing to leave their native lands and work their butts off to make a better life for themselves and their children. In many cases they moved to the US knowing very little English, having very little money, and no support system in place. These are brave, hardworking people! It's not surprising in the least that as parents they expect only the very best from their children.
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#12 of 33 Old 12-23-2009, 11:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's not surprising in the least that as parents they expect only the very best from their children.
I know, and I know whatever they did, they did unconsciously, without a real awareness of the pain they were inflicting. It has been a real process, maybe even a lifelong one, to forgive them. I wish I had the maturity as a teenager to see the love behind their anger.
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#13 of 33 Old 12-23-2009, 11:54 PM
 
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This is something that has interested me for a while. I don't think it's limited to Asian parents, I see it in Indian parents, Pakistani, and Arab as well, anywhere on the planet where the majority of people are living in poverty but where schooling offers a fundamentally lifechanging future. Will you be a tea boy (in the case of my husband's home country) or a doctor? There's very little in between.
Add African to that list. My dh is heavy on academic excellence (and excellence in all things, really). All of the African immigrants we know are, as well. He jokes that our kids aren't allowed to marry until they have their PhD, but there is a little seriousness behind that too. At this point in his life, the thought of a child becoming a small-town auto mechanic or a factory worker gives him hives. I have seen him soften a little (having now discovered that a Western education does not automatically impart common sense or a work ethic ) , so I hope that by the time our children are making their own way in the world, he won't view them as "failures" if they choose a path different from what he'd envisioned.
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#14 of 33 Old 12-24-2009, 12:15 AM
 
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The thing I was really trying to tease out is: On what kind of person does the 'typical Asian parenting style' actually accomplish it's intended purpose? The intended purpose being of course, a degree from a prestigious school and a job in a high-earning field. You know, like in the laboratory, if you try to culture Salmonella on a certain kind of medium in a petry dish, some mediums will let the bacteria flourish, and some will not. I was definitely one of the latter, I mean, my father's constant criticism, screaming, anger, fear-mongering just built up a lot of resentment, and I think subconsciously, I think I began to sabotage myself whenever I started to become successful at something just to cut off any chance my father could pat himself on the back for a job well-done. I so desperately wanted him to wake up and change his parenting style, which of course would never happen, that I just became an angry resentful daughter who couldn't go after my dreams.
On the other hand, my cousin supposedly got the same upbringing, from what I've heard, although we're not in contact with each other. He's related to me through my mother, not my father's side, though, so that could have something to do with it. He's very successful. Got a full scholarship to Berkely, is making high six figure in LA now, and wants to go for a grad degree to become a doctor or lawyer. The times that I've visited him, he seemed like very eager to please kind of person, no cinicism at all (very opposite to me). Not trying to put him down or anything. Maybe it takes that kind of personality?
ETA: I don't mean to imply here that a high paying job is what everyone should be after. I'm totally of the opposite viewpoint.
I know exactly what you are referring to. My siblings and I did not flourish under this kind of parenting style at all. I feel that had my parents treated us with more kindness and were not so harsh all of the time, I would have probably gone further in life and certainly would have had a happier childhood. My dad's side of the family is all the same exact way. They are all very mean ppl, down on their kids, nag, nag, nag, horrible to their spouses, blame everything on everyone else and have really crazy expectations. It's interesting to see how my cousins have done. It's about 50/50. Several of them have not done well at all, despite having all opportunities provided by affluent parents, they don't really have that great of a career, some did not even finish college. Then there are those who went on to high status careers, ivy league universities, these are the ones that my dad's side of the family idolize. Some resent their parents, some don't. I have one cousin in particular, who seems totally oblivious to how dysfunctional his family was. He still tries his best to please his father, who is an even bigger jerk than my father and plays the role of the dutiful son. That cousin's brother, has gone on to be very successful with his career, BUT he totally resents his family and does NOT get along with his father at all. However, the one who resents his dad is actually the one who is more, "normal." He mixes into mainstream society just fine, while his brother doesn't have any social skills at all, b/c he listens to everything his father tells him to do and to think.

I don't know. I know more 2nd and 1.5 gen Asian Americans who resent the way they were brought up, more than those who feel close to their parents. I realize my parents think that what they were doing would be, "best" for me. However, that doesn't stop me from feeling the way that I do. FTR, my father is a physician, he did not come to this country with nothing in his pockets, so I get really tired of them telling me how much they sacrificed to come here, when they would have been perfectly fine had they stayed in Taiwan. In fact I often wish my parents would have just stayed in Taiwan and we would have been raised there and not have to deal with all the racism living in the US and feeling like outcasts, b/c our parents wouldn't let us do what other kids were doing. Even among my parents' social circle, I have noticed that the ones who are more like my parents. Extremely strict and harsh with their children, vs the ones who have high stds, BUT they are not as controlling of their children and will roll with their childrens' interest that the ones like my parents all had kids who had a more difficult time and generally seem unhappy. I really think that the extreme dump of constant negativity really wears away at your spirit. Yes, it could motivate some ppl, but for others like me, it scarring.

I have one sib who is a doctor. He did not want to become a doctor, he did it, b/c my parents basically told him since he was a baby that he HAD to be a doctor (oldest son of the oldest son). He wanted to become a writer, but he did this out of obligation to my parents, and they would never, "allow" him to become a writer. He is not happy, he openly admits that he never wanted to be a doctor. Worse yet, my parents were upset that he did not go to an ivy league college and med school and even worse yet, my father (a pediatrician... yeah, I have NO idea how he chose to pick a speciality like this when he doesn't even get along with his own children) was very upset that my brother did not become a surgeon. My brother purposely chose a field that allowed him to have more down time. However, my father thinks that the surgeon status is the most impressive one (yeah, notice how my dad is not a surgeon himself???) and also he likes that they make more $. My brother's wife is also a doctor. Same situation. Her sibs are doctors, she was expected to become one too. She doesn't really like it. She has one sib who HATES being a doctor, so much so that it wouldn't be surprising if she eventually left the field all together. My brother is very bitter about my parents, he is the main person I can vent to about my parents, b/c he feels the same way.

My other brother is now a lawyer. However, before that, he was in computer science. He also double majored in journalism, but did not tell my parents about it. My parents found out by accident. One of my dad's patients asked my dad if my brother was his son. My dad said, "yes" and the patient told him that my brother wrote for the university newspaper. My father kept denying it, saying it must be a mistake. He asked my brother, who denied writing for the university paper. Finally, after a lot of back and forth, he told my father that he was a double major. My father would have blown his top over this, had it not been for the fact that we have a cousin who majored in journalism and eventually became a news reporter. So, my father was, "ok" with it, b/c he felt that my brother could follow in my cousin's footsteps and become a, "celebrity." However, if it were not for our cousin, my dad would certainly have blown his top, accusing my brother of wasting his time on a, "dumb" major. The sad part is that my brother went through a great deal of effort to hide this bit of information from my parents and my parents STILL do not realize that their parenting style is what caused us this behavior. Both of my brothers also dated their spouses for YEARS before my parents found out about it, for the very same reason, we know our parents will disapprove. Oh and the only reason he went to law school is b/c my parents said that CIS was not, "good enough." So, he finally broke down, applied, got accepted and graduated from law school. So, guess what? My parents are upset once again. Why? My brother did not become a corporate lawyer, he's not the kind of lawyer that their friends' kids are, the ones that make tons of $. Instead, my brother, having a good heart, has gone into a field of law that is very low paying, but one that represents ppl who need it representation the most. My mom actually told him, "X, I know you are a good person, but it is ok to make $." All my parents seem to care about is $ and notoriety. It just seems like when we think they can't get any worse, they prove us wrong.

As for me. I am the black sheep of the family. I am the oldest and only girl and least favorite child, based solely on my sex. In some ways, I feel that my parents set me up for failure. They provided my brothers with many more opportunities than they did for me (they were allowed to travel to Europe, go to boarding school for high school, got extra tutoring, etc.), YET I was still held to the same expectations. I did not go to a university that my father approved of. He called it a, "junk school," even though it's a well regarded university. I wanted to major in interior design, but my parents were insistent that I go into something science oriented. I ended up getting two degrees in allied medical fields, they were still unhappy. My father was so upset, he did not even attend my college graduation. I never wanted to become a doctor, so never tried to pursue it. I even told my parents when I was in high school that I would never marry a doctor, b/c I did not want to marry anyone like my father. They were so upset over this, I think it was probably one of the few things I ever said to them that really hurt their feelings that I was not going to fulfill their dream of becoming a doctor's wife. {eye roll} My father's favorite thing to say to me when I was a kid was, "I hope you are as lucky as your mom and marry someone like ME!" FTR, my father's a jerk to my mom, so it's truly baffling that he considers himself some kind of catch. Anyway, I burnt out long before my brothers did. I decided a long time ago, to stop trying to gain my parents' approval, b/c it is impossible. My brothers have played this game a lot longer than I have and in some ways, although I've disappointed my parents, I also feel that since they do not consider me as, "important" as my brothers, that they accept that I, "failed." My biggest regret is that I listened to my parents, ended up in two medical fields, in which I did not like and my parents obviously were still unhappy anyway. I vow never to put my children through this crap, all it does is make your children hate you.

Anyway, sorry to totally go off and write a book. I totally, "get" this thread.
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#15 of 33 Old 12-24-2009, 02:52 PM
 
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In fact I often wish my parents would have just stayed in Taiwan and we would have been raised there and not have to deal with all the racism living in the US and feeling like outcasts, b/c our parents wouldn't let us do what other kids were doing.
I can totally agree with this. For my brother and I, we didn't fit into American culture and were often made fun of and even had rocks thrown at us. But we didn't fit in with the Japanese community either because we were mixed and were often shunned. My mother was not treated well in the Japanese community in the US either because she married an American serviceman.

I also agree that it is not just Asian immigrants. I had friends from Ethiopia and they were very hard on their children to succeed.

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#16 of 33 Old 12-26-2009, 10:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Extremely strict and harsh with their children, vs the ones who have high stds, BUT they are not as controlling of their children and will roll with their childrens' interest
Ahh, could that be the key here? Seems so obvious but hard to find out in what cases that was the true. I know one thing, the more pain the parents harbor, even unexpressed, the more dysfunctional their children.
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#17 of 33 Old 12-26-2009, 11:05 PM
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My mother (who is white) married a Japanese-American man and he was my dad, as far as I'm concerned, although I am not Asian. The only family I had nearby were his parents, siblings, and other relatives. My dad (he is now deceased) was nisei, so he was brought up more as an American than as a Japanese.

Knowing my great-grandparents, I don't think they were strict or nagging. The entire family is working class. There are no doctors or lawyers among them. There are a lot of people who work in mechanical fields and health care, and some of them make good money, but they aren't in "prestigious" jobs.

My dad was like a Japanese hippie. He was a teacher, but thought the system was broken and grades were stupid. My parents were pretty permissive, actually....they believed that natural consequences were the best teachers, and I'm a graduate of the school of hard knocks. No, I didn't "get ahead." I dropped out of college, joined the Navy, had two kids, got divorced, and now I'm going to community college and working as a waitress.
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#18 of 33 Old 12-27-2009, 04:20 PM
 
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My best friend in HS was a first/second gen Chinese-American. Her mother grew up in China but her dad was born in the US, I think. I spent a bit of time at her house. Her parents were wonderful to me and our other best friend, but we were all good kids. We all competed in Speech and Debate together and we won a lot of trophies - her more than either of us. One thing she told us is that after every meet, her father asked her what she could do better. So she was pushed but not met with harsh discipline. Whereas my mom, especially would have been too afraid of damaging a fragile ego to suggest what could I do better. Not that I was fragile or anything, she was just so proud and I wasn't in trouble or anything, so she left me to myself. My parents NEVER pushed me.

We were in a culturally diverse area and while I don't know her personal experience I don't think she suffered a ton of discrimination. Her parents also took her to Chinese Cultural events where she mixed with other Chinese and she of course, spoke it fluently. She had mixed "race" cousins so there wasn't any pressure on her to marry or date Chinese guys (we talked about this). They just wanted her to experience traditional Chinese culture. She went to Yale and Harvard and then worked at McKinsey, so she did have achieve the best of the best. Married a caucasian guy. Her parents moved across country to be with her when she was grown and married and her Dad retired. My parents retired to Florida where NONE of their children live!

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#19 of 33 Old 12-27-2009, 05:11 PM
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I guess I had an experience similar to that Ellien described. My parents immigrated to the US in the 60's for graduate schools. They faced a lot of discrimination. And btw, so did we. With my brothers and I, they always pushed us to do our best. which means if we tried our best and got a C, then they were proud of us. As it happens, we did not get C's, went to Ivy League/ graduate schools, and did well academically.
They did not push us to succeed. They did not push us to Ivy league schools. What they did do, was push us to push ourselves. They worked hard and expected us to do likewise. They did not want us to waste our lives.
That is the key difference. I think my parents were smart enough and wise enough to recognize the difference. We are all considered financially successful by American standards. I have only my parents and teachers to thank.
But that is not what makes us successful by my parents standards. If I was a fancy educated professional, making 300K a year, but was nasty, inconsiderate, and not having any meaningful relationships, then my parents would be very disappointed in me.
In my experience, Asian parents also tend to "give"/do alot more for their kids than the average non-immigrant American parents. eg, right now my work schedule is very very intense. I am often on call in the hospital at night, and dh travels a couple times a month for a couple days at a time. So my parents help out, my mom every day. She gave up a $200k gig to help us; I don't know of many parents that would do that.
Asian parents also tend to help their kids get a financial start in life, to a much greater degree than other parents in my observation. As in, they will help a son/daughter buy a home with cash (son/daughter puts up a good chunk, parents the rest). Kid pays back at below market rates as fast as possible (i.e. usually less than 7 y loan)
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#20 of 33 Old 12-27-2009, 05:25 PM
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that is not to say that my family was not dysfunctional, which I think most Asian families are.
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#21 of 33 Old 12-27-2009, 11:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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they always pushed us to do our best. which means if we tried our best and got a C, then they were proud of us. As it happens, we did not get C's, went to Ivy League/ graduate schools, and did well academically.[/I]
Another key point. I don't think my parents ever said to me, "Just try your best"
The end result was the goal for them, not the effort. It was really important for them that I excelled in math, even though my forte was in language so they pushed my teachers to place me in the advanced math courses at school even though I wasn't ready for them. By the time I got to calculus in my senior year of high school, I was thoroughly lost. My father just kept making this awful face everytime I came home with a C or D on my report card in math, but they didn't ever go in to talk to my teachers or ask me about the subjects I did like.
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#22 of 33 Old 12-28-2009, 12:23 AM
 
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add eastern europeans to the list too. i read thru the postings and i can relate on so many levels. without a college education, you can only get a trade job. yada, yada, yada. i grew up fearing my parents, feeling never good enough, never a hug or an i love you. this resulsted in low self esteem, chronic depression. it took years of therapy to be kind to myself. and realize that my parents did what they thought was best out of love not malice.

i'm so different with dd and my parents realize now that giving love and praise doesn't spoil a child, it nurishes their soul.

single mama to DD 5.09
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#23 of 33 Old 12-28-2009, 12:36 AM
 
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Another key point. I don't think my parents ever said to me, "Just try your best"
The end result was the goal for them, not the effort. It was really important for them that I excelled in math, even though my forte was in language so they pushed my teachers to place me in the advanced math courses at school even though I wasn't ready for them. By the time I got to calculus in my senior year of high school, I was thoroughly lost. My father just kept making this awful face everytime I came home with a C or D on my report card in math, but they didn't ever go in to talk to my teachers or ask me about the subjects I did like.
My parents were the same way. "Just try your best" was never an acceptable option. It was basically, "You must BE the best." I did not excel in math or science either, but my parents also pushed me in that direction. They used to make the dumbest comments about how they couldn't understand why we (my sibs and I) were so, "bad" (we weren't bad, we just weren't math geniuses) at math and science, whey THEY (my parents) were so, "good" at math and science. They got pretty ticked off when we informed them that math and science skills are not genetically built in, duh!

I know the feeling about them not talking to the teacher. If I ever had an issue with a teacher, my parents would always yell at me and tell me that I must have done something wrong and it was my fault. In my algebra II class in high school, I had the highest grade (C) in the entire class, most everyone else was getting D's and F's. I spoke to the teacher and he told me I should be happy that I had the highest grade in class?!? And made some dumb comment about how I better get used to it, b/c this is the way it would be in college (FTR, I aced my math courses in college, b/c my teachers weren't dumbasses). When I complained to my parents that the teacher was unfair (he did not test anything he taught in class, but totally random stuff that didn't make any sense, it may as well have been a test for a different class, he was tenured and didn't give a crap, since they couldn't fire him), they told me it was all my fault and I must not be studying hard enough, that's why I was doing so poorly. I was able to transfer to another algebra II class with a different teacher. I got the last spot in her class and was able to get a B+, even though I went into the class with the scores from my former algebra II class and it was more than midway through the semester. My parents basically did not want to advocate for me at all and I had to stick my neck out to do it, b/c my guidance counselor got mad at me for making a stink (tranferring out of the original teacher's class), and said that it would make HER look bad for letting me transfer to the same class with a different teacher. The funniest thing about this is that I was your stereotypical, quiet, nerdy Asian kid, who NEVER said anything, so this was a big step for me to make this request. I was desperate. Turns out after my classmates in my original class found out that I was able to transfer, everyone else wanted to transfer too, but there were no more spots. Oh and I guess that math teacher was infamous for doing this and tons of his students got stuck with D's and F's that they did not deserve, all b/c he was on some sort of power trip. Oh and that lovely guidance counselor wrote me bad recommendations for college, b/c she was still pissed at me for transferring classes and causing, 'bad blood' btwn her and that stupid math teacher. I think back to it now and it makes me mad that I had to fight the system on my own w/o the back up of my parents. My parents are under the disillusioned Asian belief that teachers are ALWAYS right and should ALWAYS be respected. Not so, from my experience...
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#24 of 33 Old 12-28-2009, 01:35 PM
 
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My husband is Vietnamese and grew up over there. He had a very traditional Asian upbringing (authoritarian, pushed to study all the time, pushed to become a doctor/lawyer, etc). Well, it worked in a way, because he's smart, successful, and a lawyer (a job which, thank goodness, he actually likes).

But in another way, it really backfired. My husband's relationship with his parents is strained at best, damaged at worst. The methods his parents used to parent (authoritarianism, shame and fear-mongering, and some physical punishment) have given him lots of problems to work through -- problems dealing with negative emotions, pessimism, cynicism, problems trusting people, etc -- which he has dealt with, and I'm proud of him. But it set him back in his personal life and exacted a toll on his relationship with his family (including with me, at times), which even if he was the richest, smartest man alive wouldn't be worth it.

We decided we will raise our kids more like my parents did -- authoritatively. I still accomplished all the stuff he did (academically and professionally), and I have a great relationship with my parents and really want my kids to have that bond with me, as well. The important thing his parents DIDN'T do was making him feel loved and special no matter what he did, while still having high expectations. I really hope I don't make that mistake. I'm afraid sometimes I will, so it's really good to have a discussion like this to remember that love and praise are like food and water to a little child. Then when I'm stressing about report cards I can remember what really matters.
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#25 of 33 Old 12-29-2009, 12:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My mother used to always say to me, "If someone was criticizing me, it would just make me work harder to prove them wrong." Or something to that effect, especially when my parents had gotten finished yelling at me about what a f***-up I was and I started to get defensive or even started crying.
Used to make me so angry. But now I'm wondering, are there people like that, that have parents or even teachers/other authority figures who have basically torn them down to build them up, and it worked? I think one would have to have a really instrinsic sense of self-worth to get up and keep on chugging along time after time of someone beating you down (mentally that is).
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#26 of 33 Old 12-29-2009, 01:54 PM
 
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DH is an ABC,and his parents were really tough. He did get ahead, got an Ivy League PhD in mathematics at 23, but he got burned out on research... deep down my in-laws are still unhappy that he is not teaching at a research university.

DH is very lax with our own kids...

My best college students are Asian--they work super hard, have a good attitude and are a pleasure to work with. I teach math at the college level. I think a big part of this is the excellent work ethic these students have in general.
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#27 of 33 Old 12-29-2009, 02:05 PM
 
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My mother used to always say to me, "If someone was criticizing me, it would just make me work harder to prove them wrong." Or something to that effect, especially when my parents had gotten finished yelling at me about what a f***-up I was and I started to get defensive or even started crying.
Used to make me so angry. But now I'm wondering, are there people like that, that have parents or even teachers/other authority figures who have basically torn them down to build them up, and it worked? I think one would have to have a really instrinsic sense of self-worth to get up and keep on chugging along time after time of someone beating you down (mentally that is).
I think that it can, "work" to motivate a child to perform to a parents' expectations. The problem is, that I think the parents sacrifice their relationship with their child. Most ppl I know who went through this and survived, resent their parents now that they are adults. Another PP mentioned this before too. I guess the parents see this as, "tough love," but to me, it's borderline child abuse.

It's hard to walk away from this kind of upbringing w/o emotional/mental baggage. Even though my own father was brought up this way, I can tell that it negatively affected him and really screwed him up. The biggest difference is that he continued the cycle with his own children, thinking that this was the, "right" way to parent. While I have decided I will not continue this sort of toxic parenting style with my kids. My kids getting a perfect SAT score and going to an ivy league college is not my life goal, as it was for my parents. So, maybe they are justified in their own minds to feel angry that none of their 3 children achieved this goal (although, give me a break, how unrealistic of a goal is this???). I want my kids to be, "successful" in life. However, my definition of success means that they will be able to flourish in a career that they enjoy while making a decent living at doing it, be well rounded, kind and I want them to be happy most of all. Things like 4.0+ GPAs, being spelling bee champion, perfect SAT scores, being a piano prodigy and admission to an ivy league institution are not my idea of, "success." In fact, what is so bizarre is that my parents do know ppl who met all of the above and they were surprised when these ppl did not go on to make gobs of $. Since to my parents, a big part of, "success" means material wealth. Somehow or another, they just feel that this is some sort of mathematical equation that if you do these things, you are guaranteed success. They do not make the association that nerds, while very, "smart" academically, often struggle IRL due to lack of social skills and that no matter how well educated they are, top scores do not automatically mean that you get the top position and top pay. To this day, my parents still have not figured this out. My own father, a pediatrician, is not, "successful." He has social problems, and he complains ALL.OF.THE.TIME how unfair it is that other pediatricians he knows who went to, "worse" medical schools than he did, have a much busier medical practice than he does. The nurses all hate him, the other doctors hate him too, the pharmacists can't stand him, b/c they read his handwriting and if they call him to clarify a script, he screams at them. He is unable to make the association that just b/c he is a doctor, that it doesn't mean he gets an automatic ticket on the success train. His personality, arrogance and lack of social ability have crippled his success, but even after 40 yrs he cannot see this. He blames it on everyone else instead, b/c he doesn't want to believe that social skills are more important than a piece of paper that says he is a MD.
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#28 of 33 Old 12-29-2009, 03:20 PM
 
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They do not make the association that nerds, while very, "smart" academically, often struggle IRL due to lack of social skills and that no matter how well educated they are, top scores do not automatically mean that you get the top position and top pay. To this day, my parents still have not figured this out. My own father, a pediatrician, is not, "successful." He has social problems, and he complains ALL.OF.THE.TIME how unfair it is that other pediatricians he knows who went to, "worse" medical schools than he did, have a much busier medical practice than he does. The nurses all hate him, the other doctors hate him too, the pharmacists can't stand him, b/c they read his handwriting and if they call him to clarify a script, he screams at them. He is unable to make the association that just b/c he is a doctor, that it doesn't mean he gets an automatic ticket on the success train. His personality, arrogance and lack of social ability have crippled his success, but even after 40 yrs he cannot see this. He blames it on everyone else instead, b/c he doesn't want to believe that social skills are more important than a piece of paper that says he is a MD.

Quoted because I really agree with you. I think parents in general who concentrate on academics are missing the big picture.

I'm not Asian but I had the parents who really expected great things of us and tried to manipulate the directions we took. What's interesting, though, is like your parents they were both socially retarded. My Dad has 3 degrees, two of them in sciences, so he's clearly smart, but he never got as far as he wanted to and imo that's because his social skills were very lacking. Like yours, he blames it on some conspiracy and put even more pressure on us to do well and follow the path laid out for us which he imagines = success, but it's pretty clear to me that there's no conspiracy, he's just kinda an unlikeable jerk.

While I encourage DD's learning, I'm just as interested in her learning to get along with others. It's funny how that becomes much more important in the real world, eh?
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#29 of 33 Old 12-29-2009, 03:34 PM
 
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Among all of my Asian friends (mainly Indian, Korean, and Chinese), that was the norm. Even though I went to a very difficult private school, they were still expected to get all As, etc. Career-options were limited... .doctor, lawyer, engineer.. but preference given to physician. Most of my friends from that background are raising their kids the same way... even though many hated it as kids. :

I was good friends with one of our corporate heads in India, and even his secretary had an MBA from a top-program. So I think it's tough for us to understand just how competitive things can be.

On a side note... it may not just be Asian kids... as DH is Egyptian, and it's very much the same. School is serious business. Everything is contingent on a few exams... basically your entire life... including what you'll do, who you'll marry, etc.

Mom to DS(8), DS(6), DD(4), and DS(1).  "Kids do as well as they can."

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#30 of 33 Old 01-04-2010, 08:36 PM
 
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skimming through these posts i realized a few things about our situation. Dh does stress the academics for ds, but does not follow through, Dh is first generation indian and is really in love with all the new technologies of our day, blue ray, big screens and the like and he doesn't spend the time to drill in grill ds as he talks, that he says he's gonna teach ds this and that and I always call him on it and say, when? Because he thinks he is just gonna jump in when ds is what 7, 10, 15? and start drilling him out of no where? At any rate, I think my dh probably won't follow through with this, and we are considering homeschooling, but dh wants ds in 'school' for the teen years, and I too would prefer private schools, over public. I don't push my ds acadmically, he is 3.5, but I do teach him with a bit of structure, and have been known to encourage things he is interested in that pertain to science, the truth is, my dh wants ds to be some wall street man...His dream job, and and I want ds to go for scientific researcher..My dream job, but deep down, I know he will choose what he wants, but I know the roots that we set are going to guide him later in life...

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