Rules, Duty and Asian Parents

My friend is extremely homesick.

She’s only been here three months and she dreams of going home.

It’s because she finds Taiwan so different from home.

Sometimes, she feels like banging her head on the wall because she can’t understand how people here cannot think for themselves and have no opinion of their own.

For example, as a teacher, she is surprised on how students here will dutifully sit down and listen to the teacher, but run wild once the teacher leaves the room.

It seems Taiwan is a repressed society where people hold back their feelings because they have to follow the norm.

“In the States, people are more independent and do what they want to do,” she said. “But here, it’s all about duty — people do things because their parents/society/partners want them to, and not because they themselves want to do it. Now, that’s crazy!”

Ah, duty.

It’s that duty that propels me to give out 20% of my salary to my parents monthly, even if they don’t need it… just so my father has bragging rights that he has a good daughter.

It’s that duty that possesses me to write an email to my parents every weekday.

Duty is when you study a major in university chosen by your parents.

Duty is when you marry someone rich to increase the status of the family.

You have to do it because they raised you to be a “good” girl, and all you have to do is follow the mold and do whatever they say. even if you don’t want to.

That’s duty.

But what about what we want?

Where do duty end and our personal choices begin?

But as they say, you live in your parents’ house… you follow your parents’ rules.

And goodness, people don’t move out in Asia unless they’re married.

Some even live with their parents after they’re married!

They think they’re saving on rent, but truthfully, I think they’re just asking for trouble.

Anyway, as we were talking, we kinda agreed that that’s a major reason why a lot of people rebel, or do immoral things.

First, if your parents made the choice for you, and it’s technically not the choice you made yourself, you get to blame your parents in case you screw up.

Or they’ll always cover your back for you.

“It’s not very uncommon for parents here to give teachers gifts,” she commented. “Sometimes I wonder if it’s from the heart or they just want to win points for their sons/daughters.”

“There are even some parents who would come and demand that the teachers change the grade of their students,” she continued. “And some teachers allow themselves to be bullied! Now, that’s crazy! How can the students learn if the parents are always saving their backs all the time?”

That’s a major problem here in Asia.

The parents shelter their kids too much and don’t allow them to make mistakes. And in a lot of cases, every time the kids make a mistake, the parents help cover for it.

Now, how will the kids learn?

“In the States, parents just let you do what you want,” I observed.” They let you learn the hard way, hence, the lessons stay with you. Sometimes, it’s only when you get burned that you learn your lesson and never do it again.”

But if you don’t let your kids make their own mistakes, how will they learn about accountability?

Even as they grow older, they’ll never realize that every decision they make carry an equal consequence. Why?

Because their parents are always covering up their asses.

And that’s sad.

Because we’re raising irresponsible kids who grow up to be irresponsible adults.

That’s why, a lot of adults here just do whatever they want and to heck with the consequences.

Oh, and let’s not even start about rules.

Here, they have rules for everything!

You can’t do this… or you can’t do that…!

Too many rules!

The funny thing about rules though is that in life, there are always gray areas. And there are not enough rules to cover gray areas!

Case in point, back in the Philippines, my father ordered me never to marry a Filipino, or fear disownment (Now, don’t be affected by this. It’s a Chinese thing).

That was HIS rule.

But what about Japanese?




Or even Europeans?!

My father never mentioned anything about them.

Hence, when I came to Taiwan and made Japanese friends, that threw my parents on the loop when I asked them, “How about Japanese?”

Whoops, there’s no rule about that. So can I do it?

So hilarious, my mom was like, “Let me get back to you” and went off to look for my dad.

After a few minutes, she came back and said with finality, “No Japanese.”

I found this very amusing.

Because there are too many rules, we can’t really keep up with them. Besides, there are just too many in the gray area to be covered by rules.

However, if our parents taught us the principle behind the rule, then maybe that would be more efficient.

Instead of saying, “No Filipino,” they could’ve just emphasized more that it’s better if you marry someone similar to your background because people are already different. Don’t let cultural difference complicate things further.

Then, that would’ve cleared up a lot of things in the gray zone.

Instead of saying, “Don’t cheat on exams,” they could just explain that education is for our benefit, and by cheating, we are deriving ourselves the knowledge of learning. Then it makes more sense since you know the principle behind the rule.

Do you get what I mean?

But a lot of parents aren’t like that. They give you the rule and not explain the principle involved.

That’s why I believe, there’s a lot of extramarital affairs going on in Taiwan.

Nobody taught them that stealing a woman’s husband is bad. Heck, who will teach an 8-year old kid not to steal an attached man in the future?

So there’s no rule in that, so why not do it? It’s not a hard-assed rule.

That’s why, I agree with my friend to a point. Yes, people here oftentimes do not think for themselves. They instead rely on their parents or rules to make decisions for them.

Now, that’s sad.

After independently living here for three years, I’ve come to appreciate the gift of being able to think about yourself and having your own opinions.

Sure, you may make mistakes, but at least they’re YOUR mistakes. And you’re at least accountable for your OWN mistakes.

Sigh, this is the culture we live in. Is there still hope?


As long as there are free thinkers like my friend who encourage the children to think for themselves, there is still hope!

So come on and think for yourself for once!

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4 thoughts on “Rules, Duty and Asian Parents

  1. They are… specifically, we’re called Filipino-Chinese. Yellow in skin, but raised in both the Filipino and Chinese culture — and damn proud of it! 😉

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