Chinese parents find it hard to wear their heart on their sleeve

By Wendy Min Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/23 19:13:40

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

 It is ridiculous that after so long, an Asian actor was finally recognized and awarded a Golden Globe. Yes it was historical just like Crazy Rich Asians but so belated! It is hard not to love Sandra Oh. Not only is she a great role model for other females, she also reaffirms the pride of being Asian in an industry that lacks diversity and inclusion.

Her win was indeed a "moment of change" and a touching one as she bowed and uttered the words "I love you" in Korean to her parents. This was an added bonus to a photo of her family wearing the "It's an honor just to be Asian" T-shirt.

It was especially great that the gratitude shown to her parents was so verbal especially since it is a known fact that Asians have a hard time openly displaying their emotions to their loved ones.

Although I'm Australian, I have a hard time and find it strangely difficult to say "I love you" to my parents and friends. I'm an oddball since I don't particularly like hugs and mushy moments. I am emotional but only feel comfortable when I am by myself. I feel talk is cheap as actions carry more weight. In some ways, subconsciously, my actions are a result of the unconditional love shown to me by my parents through, not words, but their actions. Being supportive in my hobbies, my studies, where I go and instilling in me the need to be independent and courageous and ignoring my tantrums and weird antics was my parent's language of love.

I look back at my younger years and remember the silence and "did you punch someone at school again" responses when I uttered "love you mum and dad." They shrugged it off and would often change the subject to my marks in math, which were downright appalling. "Don't tell me, show me so I know you really mean it," was what my parents often said. Be it making sacrifices for your children to give them a better life or the notion of filial piety, it really is in the cultural psyche to display sincerity and love through results and actions.

Sure, it potentially gives way to miscommunication, or in my case, hissy fits but heck, I'm so used to this now that I am forcing myself to be more vocal instead of throwing money at my parents to show that I care for them.

Being verbal doesn't hurt yet I understand why there are those who sense a hint of superficiality in such blatant expression of love. It certainly is artificial and therefore insincere especially when your actions scream the very opposite. Asian parents certainly do embody that saying, "actions speak louder than words."

Today, I sent out those three little words to my family and my little sister was the only one who responded with those exact words back. Silence was all I got from my parents, but in their defense, TV and sleep are very important to them. 

The author is a freelance writer. She was born in China, raised in Australia, educated in China, Australia and France.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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