The Problem with Chinese Parents

Written on September 17, 2005 from the Raven Archives…

A lot of us do not have the courage to go against our parents’ wishes and exercise our own free will.

I don’t blame them.

It’s scary.

Especially for Chinese parents, there’s always that emotional blackmail hanging over your head.

“We’ve done so much for you,” scolds your parents. “And this is how you repay us?! With disobedience?! Aiyo, we’ve raised a bad son/daughter.”

And they’ll shake their heads and make you feel really guilty. I mean, who wants to be called bad sons or daughters?

It’s as the same as calling yourselves son of a bitches!

And if emotional blackmail doesn’t work, there’s always that financial blackmail hanging over your head.

This is usually the ultimatum giving by most Chinese parents.

“If you do not listen to us,” they start. “We will disinherit you and no longer call you our son/daughter.”


When you think of the house you will maybe inherit two years down the road, or the millions they promise after they pass away, you can’t help but reconsider your decision and ask yourself if it’s really worth it to disobey your parents.

Don’t you feel like a whore sometimes?

You only get “paid” if you do what they say.

Is that how much you’re worth?

It’s like the carrot and the stick, and you’re the donkey.

Most Chinese children look at the cost of disobedience and back out.

I don’t blame them.

Whatever voice they had before retreats, and they resort to going back under their parents’ wings, silently blaming their parents for their unhappy future.

After a few years, they grow bitter because of unfulfilled dreams, and maybe, one day when they have kids, they will force their dreams on their children, and the cycle begins again.


Chinese parents are the worst.

Don’t get me wrong.

Chinese parents look into their children’s well-being, and only want the best for you.

But they can’t seem to keep their noses out of your business.

When it comes to your friends, your schools, or your significant others, they always have an opinion.

And most aren’t afraid to tell them your opinion.

They first start by saying, “Honey, mom and dad thinks that it’s better if you…”

But actually, what they meant was, “Honey, if you don’t listen to what mom and dad says…”


The emotional/financial blackmail’s there!

Every opinion, every comment is actually a command in disguise.

It’s so tiring.

That’s why (and forgive me for saying this), I find Filipino-Chinese back home to be a tad boring.

Yes, they go out with their friends… and yes, they party.

But ultimately, they’re still living in a golden cage.

They’re not really free to do what they want.


Well, try this…

Tell your mom or dad you want to move to the United States to try your hand to be a singer, and let’s see how they’ll react.

Or if it’s too wild for you, tell them YOUR DREAMS, and see if they don’t discourage you.

I’m pretty sure they’ll go ballistic.


There was a time that I taught English in a buxiban (cram school). Specifically, I taught adults, and found it interesting to exchange ideas with them.

At the beginning of every class, we have a free conversation section where students are encouraged to speak their mind.

Of course, as a teacher, I had to facilitate the conversation and keep it going.

Here’s one vivid conversation I had with a student that I had to share:

Raven: “So, what are you studying in university, Mary?”

Mary: “Engineering”

Raven: “Hey cool! Engineering is really hard. It has lots of math subjects! So you must love math?”

Mary: “No, I hate math.”

Raven: “Then, why are you taking up engineering, Mary? Engineering has a lot of math.”

Mary: “Only ’cause my parents want me to. I’m actually not interested in engineering.”

I found this really sad.

You’re wasting your time in a four or five-year course on a subject you’re not even interested in.


Because your parents want you to.

Some people say, they’re doing it because it’s the practical choice. You have to choose an income-generating vocation such as medicine, law, business or engineering because you are assured of an income when you graduate.

But what if you hate it?

Will you still do it?

I think the question is, do you have the guts to follow your dreams, even if it’s not the most practical choice?

Most don’t.

Lucky for me, I was interested in business.

I took it not because my parents want me to (admittedly, they want me to take a girly course like interior design), but because I’m actually interested in it. I even had to fight my dad to get into my university.

In the end, I’m glad I didn’t take up interior design like my dad wanted.

I may or may not have loved it, but I would regret not taking up business for the rest of my life. And I’ll blame my dad for it.


The funny thing is, although they think they’re doing it for your well-being, they’re actually doing it to keep face amongst their friends.

It’s not very uncommon for Chinese parents to boast about their children’s achievements.

It seems that Chinese families especially love to compare.

They compare about the sizes of their incomes, their job titles, their kids’ grades, the trips they’ve been and even how much medicine they’re downing.

Honestly, I find it sick.

How can you be truly happy if you keep on comparing yourself to the Joneses?

There won’t be an end to this.

There’s always someone who’s cuter than you are, has a bigger house, has a better job… the list goes on.

My parents sent me an email a couple of months ago, telling me that their friends’ daughter has just relocated to Singapore working for the IT department of P&G.

They told me that she’s earning at least P100,000 a month.

My stand? “So freaking what?”

Don’t compare me to your friends’ daughter.

I have no idea who she is, or what exactly she’s doing… but I know myself.

And I’m happy to say that maybe I’m not earning as much as her per month, but at least, I’m financially stable.

And most importantly, I’m happy where I am.

I’m happy about my life here in Taiwan… and I think I’m one of the luckiest girl ever.


Because I’m surrounded by friends who sincerely care about me and I know I can count on them when I need help…

I have a terrific boyfriend whom I adore, and who adores me…

I have a good job, a wonderful boss, and a schedule that allows me to do whatever I want after work…

I have a dynamic organization supported by a group of smart, competent people and we’re making things happen…

What more can I ask for?

It’s so easy to compare incomes. All you have to do is put them side by side.

However, money is not the end-all and be-all of life.

How about the other factors such as friendship, love, social life and others?

Income-wise, my salary may not be as much as other people, but heck, I’m not doing too bad myself, and I’m rich in more ways than one.

Now, who can beat that?!


A friend of mine wisely says in his blog, “When you are pursuing a dream, make sure it is yours. Not someone else’s. Be an architect if you want to be one, not because someone else wants you to be. And by all means, marry whomever you want. Your mother will not sleep and live with your husband, you will.”

“A vocation is a lifetime choice,” he continues. “It is sad if at the end of your life, you end up blaming someone else for something that is in yourself to handle alone. Exercise your right to choose and stick with it. Nobody knows things better than you. Carve out your own piece of the world and dare to dream.”

Let’s cheer to that… C’est La Vie!

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2 thoughts on “The Problem with Chinese Parents

  1. .. sometimes I go back in your archives and today I found this… the first time I read it, was like dunno.. the first time I found your blog?, I guess..
    .. and, I've done it -> I finally made my own decision after 2 freakin' years!! and it feels good, but also. :(, because my mom doesn't support it… . but I am the one who has to live my life and, me feelin' content at the moment :)… better than I can ever imagine!!..

    .. I found a really good American quote: "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans"…

    .. you simply cannot know what will happen in the future (remember A, B, C etc :P), but all you know is what has happened in the past… and are you happy/content at the moment? ..

    .. you are the one who has to look in your own eyes in the mirror, at the end of the day and are you satisfied with what you see?..

    .. when your future arrives, will you blame the past? ..

    -> for me? … not anymore, when I look back.. the things I've done in certain situations… the decisions I've made, I've made them, because I thought they were the RIGHT one at that moment and that has made me the person who I am today..
    .. I think that every human being in this world has to go through certain situations… life-tests I guess, to succeed and also to appreciate what we have..

    .. yes, it's true.. when life throws lemons at you, make lemonade..
    .. first, you have try the lemon, to figure out how sour it really is (or better said, what kind of hardship you're dealing with), because every lemonade tastes different… same goes for people, everybody is unique.. the one is sweeter or sour than the other…
    .. then you'll know how much flavor you should add :)… a scoop of sugar?.. honey? … crushed-ice to? … hah ^-^..
    -> to make things more difficult, or easy… it also depends on how you feel at that moment.. are you ecstatic?, angry?, in love? etc.`.. this will influence how much flavor you should or better yet, will add at that moment..

    .. but you now what? … our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but, we are responsible for who we become and… the happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything -> they just make the most of everything!

    .. hah, dunno why I'm typing this long post, but.. sharing it with you, Raven.. I guess 🙂

    .. just be yourself :D… this also goes to all the peeps out there :)..

    With Love,


  2. .. ow yeah, I forgot the cherry on top :P… -> as Natasha Bedingfield would sing:

    "Feel the rain on your skin
    No one else can feel it for you
    Only you can let it in
    No one else, no one else
    Can speak the words on your lips
    Drench yourself in words unspoken
    Live your life with arms wide open
    Today is where your book begins
    The rest is still unwritten, yeah"


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