5 Steps to Having a Better Relationship With Your Asian Parent (Part 4 of 5)

Each step in this series talks about Why What and How to have a better relationship with your Asian Parent. Now that you've had some initial conversations, what do you do when it doesn't meet your expectations? 

What if it's like talking to a wall? What if your parents just don't get what you're trying to do? 

To be honest, sometimes we just need to accept that our parents are limited in their ability to learn and grow. They are human. And an older human than us. They've had more time on earth, doing the same things, getting the same results. 

Therefore, they are more set in their ways and their minds are more closed off than ours. Depending on their level of emotional intelligence and their ability to connect with you, you absolutely cannot control and/or change who they are.

Here's a moment (one of many) when I had to accept my dad for who he is.

Before I went on maternity leave, I was in the midst of co-authoring a book chapter with some researchers in the UK. I was determined to do this despite my looming due date.  

At 39 weeks pregnant, I submitted the final manuscript to the publisher. I wanted to do this before she was born because I knew I would have zero time to do anything once the whole breastfeeding, motherhood, sleep deprivationloss of independence...blah blah blah...kicked in.

I was incredibly proud of myself for fulfilling this commitment and I wanted to share this moment with my parents.

I nonchalantly tell them, "I wrote a book chapter and it's going to be published next year."

My mom glances at me with a slight smile, "That's great. How much money do you make from that?"

I roll my eyes and scoff. (Hey, at least she said it's great).

My dad says flatly, "Your oldest sister (His Golden Child, the Doctor) writes. Didn't she write a book? I wonder if that got published? She's a great writer."

My mom gives me an empathetic look and then a look of disappointment at my dad. 

Tears begin to well up in my eyes and pregnancy hormones intensify; however, using my 30 years of being told "not to cry", those drops of invalidation dry up.

I then go into my vulnerability and courage cycle. I self-reflect and make a decision to either let it go or pursue a further understanding of my dad (like what I had done with previous conversations).

I pursue.

I courageously tell him, "Dad, it's not easy for me to share this with you; however, I was trying to tell you about my achievement and how I was able to this even though I'm about to burst. I wanted you to acknowledge my work. It hurt my feelings when you immediately brought up my sister's accolades"

I nervously wait for his response but I'm also hopeful. I'm thinking maybe this will get through to him. 

Maybe this will make him stop comparing his daughters? 
Maybe he will change since I'm being vulnerable with him?
Maybe he will actually empathize with me and see it from my perspective? 

His face changes from being confused to being defensive. 

He retorts, "What's wrong with talking about your sister? Aren't we talking about writing? I merely brought her up because she also writes.”

I give up. I had used up all my courage resources for the day. I waddle home to lick my wounds. 

I might try to bring it up with him again one day but for now, I'm sharing this story with the world, hoping it empowers my readers to be vulnerable with their parents. 

Step 4 of my Asian Parent Series is about When you need to accept your parents for who they are, recognizing their limitations and changing your expectations when they aren't met.

As Asians, much of our values are family-based, respecting our elders and supporting one another no matter what. We don't let one of us fall through the cracks. We stick to each other like little grains of sushi rice.

It's like when Ali Wong talks about how weird it is to see a homeless Asian person in her most recent Netflix special Hard Knock Wife


So as much as we want to just say, 
"Fuck it. I'm done with my parents. I'm moving out/running away from home and never looking back (離家出走)." 
We can't and we don't because we have a deep-rooted sense of responsibility and a duty to take care of them, especially when they get older. 

So we need to learn when to accept them for who they are or else that responsibility we have for them becomes a burden. 

And then the burden becomes resentment which then brews in our guts and becomes cancer. 

Then we might just die earlier than our parents, defeating the whole purpose of taking care of them in the first place.

So when do you need to accept them? How do you know it's time?

Reflecting back on why you want to have a better relationship with them...if you accept them for who they are, does that fulfill that why

Have you tried to get to know them? Have you exhausted all the different possible ways to know who they are? 

If they died, would you be OK with the amount of knowledge you have about them?

Now that you know everything you can possibly know about them, do you have comfort knowing you cannot change them? 

When they say another annoying comment about you, do you know them enough to not get angry with them? 

Can you be vulnerable to them even if you know they cannot give you an ideal response? You just simply feel you can. 

Have you built enough courage to bring up difficult topics with them even if all they can give you is silence?

Stay tuned for the final part.

Click here for Step 1 (Why?)
Click here for Step 2 (What?)
Click here for Step 3 (How?)

So Readers, what does accepting someone for who they are mean to you? Do you think you can accept your parents, recognizing their limitations and changing your expectations when they're not met?

Comments

  1. I have a pretty complicated relationship with my parents and we barely speak. Thank you for sharing your story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Husna!

      Thank you for your support!

      It's tough when parent relationships are complicated and I'm sorry to hear that you guys barely speak.

      I hope my stories help others find a little bit of peace knowing they are not alone.

      Take care,

      Katharine

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