My father sent me off at the airport with a firm pat on the shoulder and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Some may say asian parenting is too extreme, but I welcome it with open arms.
I was born as the eldest son of three generations of eldest males. From a young age my father has told me that I will have to take care of the family. To provide some background, my parents come from very humble backgrounds but eventually started a very successful printing business. They both retired and gave the business away when they were 30 and moved to Canada to provide my brother and I an easier and better education.
I received the full spectrum of ‘standard’ Asian tutor lessons, from the piano to bi-weekly Chinese class. Admittedly at the time it felt overwhelming but looking back now, I am so glad I did it.
Chinese lessons was a bi-weekly occurrence, it had a daily work load of approximately 2 hours and I started when I was around 8. At the time I absolutely despised it and constantly envied the kids who got to play outside. With that said I never tried to quit and I’m glad I didn’t.
Why didn’t I? Well just imagine that during these 3 hours my father was right beside me the whole time – not as an enforcer but more of a supportive figure. He would have his daily Chinese newspaper out and whistling an old Taiwanese tune while periodically checking up on me. My fondest memory was when I had difficulty writing the characters, and he would grasp the pencil over my hand, guiding me until I understood it or until he saw fit. I loved it when he did that, I thought of it as a game back then or having some sort of a personal assistant doing all the work. I guess thats why I knew I couldn’t just stop learning this language – it’s part of my culture. I even found myself going back after graduation to study it all over again with my little brother because I believed my level wasn’t good enough (also to motivate my brother, he wanted to quit at the time).
Asian parenting has often been criticised and I do not blame the critics for it. Tough love sometimes goes a bit far and I have experienced it before. When I moved to Berlin for a job my parents were kind of skeptical and critical. I felt like it was just hard for them to let go and I had to constantly remind them that this is all part of growing up.
A couple months passed as I got settled in Berlin and a family friend visited. They said that my father will not shut up about me, about how proud he is of me, that I took the initiative and took the chance to do something out of my comfort zone. They kept saying how my father used the phrases ‘周家光榮’ to describe me, which means the glory of the Chou family. I am by no means here to boast about my accomplishments but rather point out that that is what asian parenting like. They belittle, criticise and just absolutely shit on you in front of you but praise you to no end when you are not present.
My father is the strongest person I know, and I just hope I become half the man my father is.