When Your Asian Guy Won’t Fight For You (#157)

This spur-of-the-moment midnight post might not be for everyone. But a fellow Western Woman involved with an Asian Male is heartsick now. Maybe there are a few other women out there running into this same cultural clash.

Maybe I can help. So here I am, riding in on my white horse, with this post about one of the biggest struggles I face with my Chinese-American guy. Not every white woman’s experience will mirror mine, and not every guy with Chinese parents will turn out like Andy. But some of you might see just enough of the same dynamic to find our story helpful.


In my white, American family, dissent was acceptable. I mean, yeah, you sometimes got a smack in the face (or on the butt) for misbehaving or talking back. But if you believed in a cause, or a person, and you stood up for your person or cause, you got respect. Of course, in my family of Extremely Over-Educated Persons, you might would also get ridicule if your arguments sucked or you turned out to be VERY WRONG. (We are still making fun of Big Brother for voting for George W. Bush, because look how that turned out.)

For example, if I could present a good case to my lawyer mother for a change in my curfew, I might get to stay out an extra hour.

Not so much with Dad. I once spent fifteen minutes presenting opening arguments, evidence, and closing arguments on a Homecoming night curfew readjustment. My father listened while working on the computer. Then he said, “No.”

I wailed, “But you’re being unreasonable!”

Dad said, “Yes.” He turned his back on me and went back to the keyboard.

One Saturday night, I discovered a bunch of foolish freshmen stranded in Tyson’s Corner by irresponsible upperclassmen. I called Dad on a pay phone near midnight. I told him I was going to miss curfew, because I had to get these schoolmates of mine home. I told him I understood there would be consequences. He yelled at me to get home right away. I told him no. He hung up on me.

I was an hour-and-a-half late, driving four kids who weren’t even sure where they lived all over Northern Virginia.

All Sunday, I waited to be chewed out and grounded for a year. Dad never mentioned the incident again. Though it’s possible that Ex-Stepmother interceded on my behalf and told my dad he was being an ass, I got the sense that Dad was proud of me for disobeying his rules to do the right thing. Even if he didn’t know how to say so.

It’s considered a good thing, in my family, not to knuckle under. To stand up for yourself, especially when it’s hard, and to fight for what you want. Even against your parents. Because in a WASPish, American family, it is expected that, male or female, you will leave the house when you’re 18. You’d better be ready to face the world on your own.

My dad wanted me to go to an economical, local college. I took a scholarship to a college thousands of miles away. He never argued, accepting that it was my turn to make the decisions.

The Chinese-American household Andy grew up in could not have been more different. Andy and his siblings did what their father wanted or else. And “else” was a knuckle to the head, at the very least. There was no discussion, no haggling, no whining, no questioning of authority.

Andy was told to stay out of trouble in school. This meant no arguing with teachers, or other kids — even when they stole his lunch money.

Andy’s parents didn’t want to drive him to sports or clubs. Andy did no activities.

Andy’s parents wanted him to be an engineer. Andy became an engineer.

Andy’s parents wanted him to save money and live at home during college and graduate school. He did.

Andy’s parents wanted him to buy real estate. As soon as he had a job, he bought a townhouse. Never mind that his parents were 3,000 miles away — Andy did what they said. This left him with no money. While other twenty-somethings were off vacationing and partying, Andy was eating hot dogs in the dark.

Andy never won any battles, thus Andy never gained any confidence in himself, nor any reward for making a choice different from that of his parents. Throw in a sprinkling of Chinese fatalism and acceptance, and Andy became a person used to taking the path of least resistance.

This more passive mentality damned near doomed our romantic relationship before it started. Andy and I were acquaintances first. I dated and wanted to dance competitively with his friend Ethan. But Ethan gradually grew dissatisfied with dancing. He stayed home with his video games and told me I should be dance partners with Andy.

Andy and I were a way better fit than Ethan and I were. I realized this before Andy did. I broke up with Ethan and pined over Andy, while planted firmly in the  dreaded friend zone.

During one dance event, Andy and I shared a hotel room with another dancer, Big John. Big John was 6’8″ and looked like a truck driver, but was one of the gayest dancers around. When I told him he could room with us, Big John widened his eyes and said, “Oh, no, Autumn. Being the third wheel is the worst.”

I glumly told him that Andy and I weren’t involved.

He said, “Why not?!”

I said, “Because he and Ethan are friends and that’s not always cool and also, I’m pretty sure he thinks of me as his sister.”

Big John winced and agreed to room with us. He showed up with a new, skin-tight catsuit for me, and gushed, “Honey, my partner Amy got it at a clearance sale and then she tried it on for me and I said, No, girl. Just no. It shows everything and you’ve had three kids. There’s not enough spanx in the world! And so she said to give it to you and if you like it, you can pay her back. Now go and try it on!”

So I went into the bathroom and tried it on. I’m a pretty conservative dresser from the East Coast. That midnight blue catsuit was the most form-fitting outfit I have ever worn. I exited the bathroom and nervously twirled in front of Big John and Andy.

“Do you think it’s too tight? Are there bulges?”

Big John whistled and told me I looked fierce.

Andy said nothing. I stood in front of him spun again, did a body roll, and said, “Well? Is it okay? Can I wear it for our hustle routine?”

Andy blurted out, “Uh…I gotta go!” He ran out of the room.

Big John cackled, “I don’t think he thinks you’re his sister anymore!”

Two nights later, I kissed Andy. He kissed me back.

The next morning, I asked him if he wanted to pursue a romantic relationship, or if we shouldn’t because of his friendship with my ex. I waited for him to say, “Yes! Let’s go for it!”

He said, “We probably shouldn’t.”

It was a knife to the heart. I told him I didn’t think I could stand to be “just” his friend and his dance partner anymore. If we couldn’t be a couple, I said, he should just walk away. I expected him to fight, to argue, to do SOMETHING that would prove our relationship was worth fighting for.

He walked away. He was crying, I think, but he walked away.

I cried, too. All the way back to Burbank. But in between sniffles, I thought about Ethan. I thought about how I would feel if he dated one of my friends. And I realized that I would be okay with that. Because while he and I weren’t right for each other, I wanted him to be happy.

With that expert rationalization down, I called Andy and asked, “Are you home?”


“What are you doing?”


Thus encouraged, I declared, “I think I should come over.”

Andy said, “Do you really think that’s a good idea?”

“Fine,” I yelled. “I WON’T come over!”

Andy quickly said, “No, no, you should come over!”

I went back down the 405 Freeway. Andy met me at the door of his townhouse.

We never made it out of the front hall.

We’ve been together ever since.


When Andy first met the various branches of my family, I was ready. One racist comment, one snide remark, and I would have crushed the offender instantly (verbally, of course). I was on my white horse (or maybe my high horse), primed to ride to the rescue.

So of course my entire huge and contentious family that agrees on nothing agreed that they loved Andy. No white horse needed. Damn it.


At various times, when visiting or being visited by Andy’s family, I have been upbraided, bullied, threatened, and, in one memorable instance, SPANKED ON THE BUTT by his mother (post forthcoming…some day). His parents threatened to disown Andy for wanting to hyphenate our names.

I waited for Andy to stand up to his parents, to tell them off, to make the grand gesture in my defense. Because that’s what I’d do, of course.

Andy never did. I even cried over it once, and told him how unsupported I felt. He told me he was sorry, but there was just no point. His parents would never listen.

Since his parents never listened, I did. And I saw, gradually, the dynamic at work. I saw, too, after many bitter encounters, that he was right. His parents simply do not listen, and they cannot conceive of a world where the children override the wishes of the parents. Standing up for yourself, forcing a confrontation, and demanding that someone recognize the worth of your cause or opinion is useless.

Last night, I asked my husband, “What would have happened if I never called you after you walked away? Would you have ever called me or tried to get me back?”

He said, “I don’t know.”

I said, “Bullshit. You know you never would have called me. You’re damned lucky that I fight for what I want.”

He laughed and said, “Yeah. I am. Mostly.”

I no longer take Andy’s non-confrontational style personally, but I won’t lie. I find it very frustrating that my husband won’t tell annoying, pushy, combative people to fuck off.

And then I remember that I am also an annoying, pushy, combative person.

One of the reasons that our relationship survives is because Andy won’t fight with me. He’ll let me rage until I am again rational (or sobbing incoherently), which works better than arguing and further inflaming a temper like mine.

Another reason we survive is because I try to remember to ask his opinion and let him know I value his ideas. Andy won’t always offer up his thoughts as frequently and unrelentingly as I do.

I have accepted that Andy’s style will never, ever, be riding up on a big white horse, waving a sword, ready to do battle for his beloved.

It’s fine. Cuz I got my own horse, and my own sword. And with President-elect racist Donald Trump, those are good things to have.

Come at me, bro.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

57 thoughts on “When Your Asian Guy Won’t Fight For You (#157)”

  1. Brilliant post, Autumn. I lived in China for years. Cultural differences can be a huge challenge. Part of it is that one feel one is hitting a wall without being able to see it or work out what it is made of. Trying to understand, rationalise, survive, accept, learn from cultural differences is a never-ending path. I loved your account of your and Andy’s very different upbringing and the light it brings on your relationship. You did a great job of making the ‘wall’ visible – with which it is no longer an obstacle, or no longer the same impossoble obstacle.
    I loved the place you wrote this from, I can feel your strength and your vulnerability, your clarity and your fury, and your love.

    1. Oh, thank you so much! I kinda felt like I was rambling and scattered — my state of mind these last few days — and so it is nice to see I hit the mark with at least one reader.

      You are exactly right about “the wall.” Until you figure out what the hell it is and why it’s there, it’s bewildering.

      I’d better get to bed, though. Poor Andy does not see why I am an insane, proactive Social Media Warrior these days and he’s all like, “It’s almost midnight!”

  2. Such a brilliant piece of writing and I agree with Paolo C on the topic of cultural differences here. “His parents would never listen.” That is my Chinese parents too, and growing up, my personality micmicked Andy more so than you or anyone in your family. I don’t know how Andy truly feels about this – maybe he feels it is his duty to involve his parents in his life, that it’s the right thing which is how quite a few Asians think. That is is in his morals. But when I was growing up like the passive kid I was, it never made me happy to not step up and see just what I am capable of. These days I would say I am more like you, and my parents are in disbelief of the career path and choices that I make, but well, I can’t change how they feel. It’s one thing to respect others around you, and it is another to respect yourself altogether.

    1. Thank you, Mabel. I wouldn’t necessarily say that Andy feels like it is his duty to involve his family in his life. It might sounds surprising, but more often than not, it’s me nagging him to call his brother, or his mother, or his sister. Unfortunately, the price of controlling parents is that Andy — and his siblings — not only moved far away, but they are less likely to call, because the interaction is unpleasant. Avoidance is a form of self-protection.

      I mean, even I never nagged Andy to call his father.

      Good for you for pursuing your own life choices, Mabel, and following your own bliss. It’s a tough thing to break childhood conditioning.

  3. Thank you so much for writing this post. It means a lot to me. And honestly, made me understand my current situation a little better. I just pray things will work out now. I am waiting for them to. A strong part of me believes that it will… We played an online game together today so I think that is some form of progress… 🙁

  4. What an amazing post. It reads like tragedy turned into a love story, with a bit of erotica in there too (getting spanked on the butt by mum in law? They don’t seem shy to me)

    While I agree that Asian parents tend to be very conservative to the point of ruining their child’s development, you can’t disagree that saving and buying a house early isn’t beneficial. So many fresh grads are struggling to pay the rent, whereas Andy would be living in his own house (barely). It’s a significant distinction, although a good argument is at what price his social life.

    As for asians backing off in general, it’s not just about being raised up that way. We also have the numbers game too. In pretty much every incident when an asian has been abused or threatened, they are on their own, whereas the aggressors in the majority. Acting confrontational is a shortcut to injury, death – or if successful, a criminal record. I’m not saying it’s fair, or right – but by shying away from most confrontations they are effectively biding their time so their adult life is the best it can be. And it has worked.

    Having said that, Andy is sooooooooooooo lucky you are so aggressive in your pursuit of things – else he’d be another story of the lone, sad frustrated asian men that we see across the west.

    1. It’s true, Andy’s parents were wise about the real estate issue, and we wouldn’t have the house we have if they hadn’t pushed the issue. Also, it kept him off the social scene long enough for me to meet him and have my way with him. So I can’t really complain.

  5. Great post! I can relate in so many ways with my first marriage and other Chinese guys I dated. Marriage takes a ton of work, but you’ve found the right guy and it’s worth it! I’m sure he greatly admires you for your strength and secretly wishes he could be like that.

  6. Thank you, Susan!

    I think Andy admires my combative nature more when it’s not arguing with HIM. We had an incident once where I went screaming into battle with a neighbor recklessly using an illegal air rifle. He still chuckles over that one.

    But the flip side is that he can’t understand sometimes why I confront people rather than letting things slide and keeping the peace. And sometimes, he’s right, it’s better to let stuff go.

    But not air rifles.

    1. Don’t forget that Andy grew up in Hawaii where people tend to be more laid back about certain things. Plus if you live on an island you need to carefully choose your battles.

      Nice post. I hope you’re recovering.

      1. Thanks, 808 — I have fits of fury, fits of weeping, and I’m not sleeping or eating well. But I try and remind myself that the fight is a marathon, not a sprint. People of color have known this for a long time, but white liberals are just now realizing that it’s a long dark path…lit with the feeble gaslights of the white majority, telling Americans that everything is going to be fine and no one should be worried.

          1. Oh, that was a tough one. I’ve been a socialist since way before it was cool *scoffs at Bernie Bros come lately* and I loved so many of Bernie’s domestic policies. BUT, the man was hopelessly nearsighted when it came to foreign policy, mainly because his heart just wasn’t in it, I think. And Clinton was the wonkiest of the wonks — her website was nothing but pages and pages of policy (much of it more socialist than most people realized), and I admired that. I actually found a lot to like in both candidates. By the time California had its primary, Clinton pretty much had the nomination sewn up, but I voted for Bernie, since I did feel Bernie had a better shot of winning a general election. Had it actually come down to a direct Presidential race between Sanders and Clinton, I would have gone for Clinton, though. Isolationism is insanity as the globe keeps shrinking, and she had foreign policy chops the likes of which we’ve never seen.

            Nor will again, I am afraid.

            1. Agree with you 100%. Stopping trade won’t bring jobs back. Sadly the world is changing and becoming more globalized and technologically advanced. Robots will soon replace A LOT more workers than free trade ever will. What then?

              I also liked Bernie’s ideas of “free college” and “free healthcare” and “wealth distribution”… but how? Like Trump’s outlandish policies, Bernie’s policies seemed like an impossible dream, especially in capitalistic, conservative America. Still, I liked his character and his values and I’m all for socialism. I wonder why I don’t flee to Europe sometimes.

              In graduate school I’ve read dozens of books by NSC staffers, state department leaders, congressional members… both liberal and conservative… who applauded Hillary’s work. They praised her so much for her work as Secretary of State, and that to me was proof enough that she had what it took. Sigh.

            2. As you could probably tell from my earlier post, I was hoping for a Bernie nom. Even though he isn’t as wonky as HC, at least he is concerned for the welfare of working Americans. I’ve always felt that empathy and relatabiliity are prerequisites for the job.

              Btw, have you watched the “Arrival” starring Amy Adams? Great movie, and ironically appropriate given the election. Strongly recommend you and Andy see it.

              1. Thanks for the recommendation. It’s on my list!

                Oh, yes, Bernie is a great fighter, with tremendous empathy. I loved his unpretentious announcement about running for President, too.

  7. I enjoyed your post. My husband does not like conflict and I am always willing to fight for what I believe it. At the beginning I always had to be the “bad cop” with contractors or even friends. (His parents are long gone.) Over the years I have come to understand him better and he will stand up for himself if I wait. I am more impulsive than he is. Of course he’s been trying to tell his kids (mid-40s) for the last 5 years that we shouldn’t do Christmas gifts (they live across the country and we end up donating the gifts within a week) and hasn’t been able to. I don’t care. I don’t get involved in the gift giving thing so it’s up to him. (Of course I would have done it 10 years ago!)

    1. Thanks, Kate! Yeah, I find it’s better to let Andy dictate how we interact with his family. I leave it up to him when we visit, how much time we spend, and what gifts we give them. Except for the nieces and nephews, because I don’t feel right about giving his side of the family nothing while the kids in my family get gifts.

      But presents are not a big deal to his family.

      It is very hard to rein in my impulsive, take charge, do it now self. I have to remember that while Andy’s way of getting what he wants isn’t showy, but passive resistance works, too.

  8. I noticed it too however it always depends on the family. Growing up here in this town my best friend was also Chinese, to be more precise a mix of Taiwanese and Chinese Malaysian. His parents came to Germany to study at some university and later started a restaurant. They were so much different than the other Chinese families I would meet years later. They had discussions and even listened to their son in case he had some ideas on his own.
    My wife grew up listening to every word of her mom being gods will or something like that. Well things changed after she moved to Finland to study. Ever since I was first time meeting her family in China she had huge battles with them, especially her mother.
    As MIL even tends to twist the truth all the time my wife his battling with her to accept the truth of what really happened. When MIL shouts at some poor waitress because of some stupid reason my wife starts shouting at her mother to respect other people…the list goes on and on but I guess you can see that even growing up in such “culture” it still depends on the person to change

      1. It is always amusing to see when such things happen in public, like in a restaurant. All other people in the restaurant are just staring at my wife when such fight happens as if “WTF, how she dares to say something against her own mother!!!” 🙂

        1. Well, if I were if the restaurant, I would be cheering on your wife. One of the beefs I have with some cultures is the deep, automatic respect for elders. I don’t see that it should be any greater than the kindness and respect given to all other humans. Elders can be stupid assholes, too. Witness what the baby boomers did in our recent election.

          1. Yeah I will never understand how to show respect for elders when they screw stuff up like that. So far, no mater what, MIL was wrong about everything but she does not even see it. My wife’s grandma even got upset about how bad her granddaughter is behaving because she is speaking up…

    1. My MIL is not a fan of the Donald, but, like Andy, she can’t wrap her head around why I let the election upset me. But I guess if you live through fleeing the cultural revolution, surviving on bean threads in Hong Kong, and then moving to a foreign country, well, you’ve seen it all and expect that the orange pustule will pop soon enough. More of that fatalism would probably be good for my blood pressure about now.

  9. I also think you (moreso Andy) should give props to Big John. He bought that dress for you, it wasn’t a hand me down.

  10. Oh Autumn, thanks for posting this, I needed it. I’ve been frothing at the mouth and going through bouts of high blood pressure and depression due to the results of this election, and my fiancee has merely shrugged. I don’t get mad about it, but again, there are times I wish I had someone who fought for his ideals and opinions instead of shrug, let it go, and say that the world will probably be somewhat OK in four years. While it is probably truth, it’s not the kind of thing I want to hear at the moment (and for god’s sake, I just found out his parents voted for Trump.. I think my blood pressure just went up again).

    When I lived in China, I told my Chinese friends that I fought with my parents a lot. That I disagreed and didn’t do what they told me. Their reaction was merely:

    “Why do you not do what your parents say? That’s wrong.”

    It was in that moment I truly understood Chinese culture, and why my Chinese boyfriends frustrated me to no end.

    Before fiancee and I got married we had a lot of fights, some about his parents. I was worried that parents would rule our life and, if they didn’t like something about me or the choices we made, we would have to bow to their wishes. I asked my fiancee if he would support me in OUR relationship as opposed to his parents, and it took him three days to answer a hesitant “no.” I trust him, but still, waiting those three days for that answer was infuriating.

    Like Andy, my fiancee did everything he was told. Become a doctor. Buy a house. Save money for property. I think choosing me as a girlfriend is probably the most outlandish thing he’s ever done and I am grateful his parents somewhat accept me.

    Like you mention at the end of your post, the temperamental difference probably makes a good match. I’m like you, very passionate about my ideals and standing up for myself, while my fiancee would rather avoid problems and be rational. He keeps me grounded when I’m upset/irrational and (sometimes) I am able to fire him up and help him enjoy life a little.

    Anyway, sorry for the long rant. It made me feel a lot better, being able to empathize through your post.

    1. Thanks, Mary, and thanks for sharing your story, too. I’m kind of shocked about how popular this particular post has become. It has left my other posts in the dust. Even the one I did for Speaking of China. I’ve had all kinds of messages — from women of all colors — relating to growing up in a household like Andy’s.

      As far as the future in-laws go, well, ugh. I mean, I’ve seen entire articles on how the most reliable predictor of voting for an authoritarian is one’s own authoritarian personality. So his parents’ politics make sense on that level, but the cognitive dissonance required to vote for a non-white to vote for a racist candidate!!!! Or for a culture all about being a good citizen and doing the right thing, to vote for a belligerent jerk who prides himself on not paying his bills…

      It’s tough to get a handle on that. How are you going to manage the next four years without saying, “I told you so?”

  11. I know what you describe is very common, but this sounds so alien to me! C. frequently fights with his parents and he has always done what he wanted. Last fight was last week because his mum decided to look for a job (she is almost 60) because she says she’s bored. C. doesn’t want her to work any more. It had to be me the one trying to calm him down and telling him that his mum can do whatever she wants! He has also fought with his aunt before (and even called her stupid to her face… she totally deserved it).

      1. He is the only child, yes. But doesn’t look spoiled to me, he knows how to take care of himself and does housework without having to be prompted. I honestly have no idea why he turned out like this. According to what he says he was a rebel since he was a child (wasn’t a good student, would spend many hours playing online games, etc) so not sure if it’s a personality thing. His parents are also definitely not of the authoritarian style.

  12. I love that you ride in on your own horse! I agree with a previous commenter – you seem both courageous and vulnerable and I always admire this rare combination.

    I have to agree with Marta – my experience with my Chinese fiance sounds quite different from many others. He somehow finds a way to both respect and ignore his parents, I am still not quite sure how it’s possible. He is a very strong willed/stubborn person and he does what he wants to do. I definitely wouldn’t describe him as passive – sometimes I wish he was a bit passive! He is covered in scars from a reckless youth, he’s played aggressive sports, anyone who tried to bully him at school only did it once because they were shocked by how aggressive his response was. I don’t think he’s ever started a fight, he doesn’t get any enjoyment out of fighting and I’ve never seen him fight in the years we have been together but I have no doubt if he was attacked (or his family or I were attacked) he would fight.

    As hard as things have sometimes been with his parents it has actually been a bigger battle to get my family to see beyond the poor first impression he often makes. He doesn’t like small talk and often comes across as rude and it can be hard to get people to wait to see his good qualities (such as loyalty, optimism, problem solving).

    Anyway, thanks for a great post, it really got me thinking 🙂

    1. Thanks, Cat! Yeah, when Andy has strong feelings about an issue, he will just ignore his parents and carry on. They tried to fix him up with a woman in Hong Kong at a dinner once, and apparently he simply ignored her. As for aggression, Andy saves it for the freeway. Ugh. (Actually, pretty sure his parents didn’t approve his car, come to think of it.)

      Does your fiance make potstickers? Cuz Andy could have been an axe murderer and my siblings wouldn’t have cared, so long as they got pot stickers.

      1. Haha yes Peter’s mother referred to a girl who was a childhood friend as his girlfriend to me (they haven’t seen eachother since they were children and she lives in the US and is married with kids but let’s not let that get in the way!)

        Haha I had to google pot stickers! No he doesn’t make them – clearly this is what he needs to do to win family over haha

  13. > In my white, American family, dissent was acceptable. I mean, yeah, you sometimes got a smack in the face (or on the butt) for misbehaving or talking back. But if you believed in a cause, or a person, and you stood up for your person or cause, you got respect. Of course, in my family of Extremely Over-Educated Persons, you might would also get ridicule if your arguments sucked or you turned out to be VERY WRONG. (We are still making fun of Big Brother for voting for George W. Bush, because look how that turned out.)

    Its not that dissent is not tolerated in Asian families. It is ; it just depends on the generation of which our parents were from. My parents are nearly in their 60s now but growing up I’ve certainly gotten myself into arguments because I did what I wanted to , and not what my parents wanted to. But it is the idea of filial piety we have towards our parents – which is why we listen to our parents so much, even in the face our own dissent.

    > It’s considered a good thing, in my family, not to knuckle under. To stand up for yourself, especially when it’s hard, and to fight for what you want. Even against your parents. Because in a WASPish, American family, it is expected that, male or female, you will leave the house when you’re 18. You’d better be ready to face the world on your own.

    The difference between white families and asian families is that we’re aren’t kicked out when we’re 18. Myself , I am at the age of 22 and I’m just finding my way into the workforce , and still not ready to live out on my own in this era where financial independence is getting harder and harder. I knew many stories of parents of other asians who were willing to help their children buy homes for them, or those who were about to get married and got gifted homes. Our parents do many things like this for us , which I certainly know that white parents would not go such lengths to do for their children. But at the same time, they expect us to do alot of things for them too ; that includes sacrificing somethings like our independence or dissent from our parents. It all goes back to filial piety. You can blame Confucius for that , but I won’t because unfortuantely I quite like having my parents help my with things such as purchasing my own home.

    1. Hi, CBC, and thank you for commenting! So you would say that unquestioning obedience is a generational issue? With parents over 60 insisting on it? Do you think it depends more on where parents grew up, or the culture within each family?

      Certainly other Chinese parents are more flexible than Andy’s. And some western fathers might be even more less flexible than Andy’s. I’ve got my own psychological theories on Jay, and his lack of flexibility. But it’s not time for that amateur psychology hour just yet.

      Oh, yes, absolutely the idea that a child “sets off to make his fortune in the world early” plays a role in the shaping relations with western parents. I think my father could tolerate dissent because he would be “free” once we hit 18, and of course the world would teach us humility soon enough. (Then he could sit back with popcorn, laugh, and say, “I told you so.”) But that expectation has changed, especially in America, as college-educated kids aren’t always finding work, and some are moving back home.

      And I readily admit that from a financial standpoint, it’s not a bad thing to stay home with parents and save money, rather than incurring a ton of debt. Andy and I wouldn’t have the house we have today if he’d gone to an expensive school far from home, rather than going through college at home. Sometimes, however, financial gifts to children come with an unspoken price — a say in what degree a child gets, the property a child buys, who they date, what car they drive, what vacations they take (with their parents!). Maybe their advice is excellent.

      But maybe it’s not. And if you’ve been trained your entire life to obey your parents/ authority figures, not knowing how to fight for what you want can result in a crippling lack of confidence, no matter what color you are. I had a white woman with domineering parents message me privately, telling me how much she related to Andy’s upbringing, and how it took her five years to fight with her husband and save their marriage. It made me sad that she was so conflict-averse that she was scared to even post a comment directly. 🙁

      Anyway, standing up for yourself can be done many ways. Some people learn to (mostly) ignore domineering parents and do whatever they want without overt conflict. That is Andy’s preferred method. And sometimes, it’s a lot better than my method.

  14. That was a great post! And I get what you mean about dissent and conflict as I’m from a Chinese immigrant family myself. I was raised to have my own white horse and sword though, probably because my parents and grandparents picked and chose which parts of our culture they wanted to pass on to us. Not right or wrong necessarily, just what’s right for us. And it looks like it works out for you and Andy!

    1. Yes, there are some parts of one’s history/culture that really do need to be jettisoned. Otherwise we’d still have child sacrifice and slavery. I’m always impressed when people are mindful about what they pass on, rather than swallowing all traditions whole. Very progressive parents you have!

  15. I am catching up on your blog now!
    I live in Japan, and have been married for several decades to a Japanese man — an oldest son. There are some differences, but also some striking similarities.

      1. We’ve never lived with them, or anywhere close to them, and I think that helped keep relations distant & cordial. We have three kids, and I think they believe I’m a crap mother because I didn’t stay home to raise them, as my MIL did (in a different era, when women had fewer choices). But it helps that Japanese people mostly communicate telepathically, so I didn’t have to hear their criticism all the time! Overall, I like them, and now that they’re in their 80’s and declining, we’re planning our own retirement to be closer to them — but again, not under the same roof.

        1. I wish my in-laws would develop telepathic criticism, because the traditional criticism is getting on my nerves. Well, good for you for ignoring the unspoken disapproval and raising your kids as you saw fit. And it’s very nice of you to take them into account when it comes to retirement. Hopefully they live somewhere with lovely fall leaves. 🙂

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