A Message to My Asian Parents

We’ve all felt our parents’ expectations being forced down our throats. Coming from an Asian household, there’s always the assumption that the children are going to become doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, accountants or engineers. Asian parents want their children to get the best grades, attend the best universities, have the most skills under their belt, all while expecting them to be a contributing member of society.

But these expectations arise because immigrant parents came from underprivileged pasts with little education, and simply want their children to live comfortably in the future. But of course, this isn’t just Asian parents. It could apply to anyone.

Now, let me tell you about my parents.

Over the holidays, I took the time to thank my parents for everything they’ve done that breaks the “stereotype” that is imprinted on so many other Asian families.

“Thank you for understanding that I am horrible at anything involving any sort of math, and for supporting me when I wanted to go down a path with more books and words than calculators and numbers.”

My parents were never ones to pressure me to do anything I didn’t want to do. Sure, they might as well be throwing me into the lion’s den and wishing me good luck, but it gives me a chance to figure things out as I go and to experience failure for myself. Neither of my parents expected me to find the cure to cancer or develop new technology that could change the world; they just wanted me to be happy.

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“Thank you for never forcing me to attend a UC or a private school, and for never expecting straight A’s on every report card.”

My parents were one of few who thought community college was a valid option. They also never punished me if I brought home anything other than an A. Whenever I call my dad, he remindeds me not to overwork myself, and that as long as I’m trying my best, then he’ll be proud of anything I do. This upbringing instilled a mentality in my head that I wanted to do well in school for myself and not because someone else is expecting it from me, and will probably influence how I'll raise my kids in the future.

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“Thank you for asserting your own opinions even when your friends had differing ones.”

Asian parents love to boast about their own kids to other parents. So, when my parents told them I went to UCSB to major in communication, one could imagine the response.

“She’s going to a party school? What jobs can you get with a communication degree?”

Mom, Dad, thank you for actually listening to me when I explained what I could do with a communication degree and for educating your friends about it.

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Like most immigrant parents, both my parents are immigrants who came to the United States with nothing more than a middle school education. But thank you for having such a different outlook on life and for letting me take hold of my future.