Do Asian Parents Push their Kids over the Edge?

The last sibling to graduate from college: my little sister with two Bachelors!

Elizabeth Cohen’s ( a CNN Medical News correspondent) states in her article, “Suicide [is the]second-leading cause of death for Asian-American women 15-24… highest suicide rate among women of any race, ethnicity for that age group…experts cite’model minority’ expectations, family pressures as factors”.  I had an aha moment when I read the article,”Push to succeed tied to suicide in Asian American” .  A couple of weeks ago, I made a check list ( which can be found here) entitled Ten Indicators You grew up in a Traditional Laotian Household in an attempt to explain my own experience growing up in a strict Asian household.  What I did not realize at the time was that there is a technical term applicable to what I went through according to some experts and it’s called, ‘Model Minority’.   Noh, one of the researchers explains that ‘Model Minority’ is “the pressure some Asian-American families put on children to be high achievers at school and professionally”.   I found myself vigorously nodding my head in agreement with this insightful commentary.  While I can’t claim all Asian parents are guilty of this slight, I will base my comments on my own experience .

When I reflect on how my siblings and I were brought up, I have no doubt that my parents put a great deal of pressure on us to be the ‘model minority’.  We were expected to do well in school and that meant bringing home straight A’s. Getting just a passing grade was not even talked about because it was unacceptable!  I remember how my mother reacted when I brought home my first “D” in Geometry.  She was ranting and raving about how I wasn’t trying hard enough and I got so frustrated with her reaction that I challenged her to do the math herself!  Of course, I got in trouble for that as well because it was considered talking back.  The bottom line is, she did not understand that I hated math and was not good at it. She expected me to do well, period. If I didn’t meet expectations then I was not trying hard enough.  This might seem harsh but it was a reality I had to deal with. Surprisingly, this taught me an important lesson which was to always push yourself more than you think is possible.  I know now that I could have done better in Geometry, but I used my dislike of the subject to cloud my own reasoning.  In other words, it was an easy out for me.

My parents are not the only ones guilty of putting pressure on my siblings and I to meet and exceed academic expectations.  Teachers and classmates did as well.  My older brother set the bar pretty high academically, socially and  athletically.  Everybody knew who he was because he excel in all three arena.  When we would get his former teachers, they would recognize the last name and the first thing they would say is “I know if you are V’s sibling you are going to be a good student!” What choice did we have since they put it that way!  I, for one felt the need and yes, urgency to prove them correct.  Even though I felt like the victim in Poe’s renown story the Pit and the Pendulum; trapped and nowhere to go I was determined to do as well as my brother.  Later in high school, when my siblings and I would actually compete to see who would get the best report card.  The challenge was invigorating because we wanted to be the best.

Teachers were not the only ones who expected us to do well in school ! Some of our classmates automatically assume that we were smart and would be successful .  I lost count of how many times I have heard the comment, ” You Asian people are smart, you’ll get an A!” from my friends and classmates. Even to this day, I have old classmates who have resurface  and told me they had never forgotten me because I was smart and sweet. I guess in a way it’s flattering to know that people remember you for those positive qualities instead of negative ones. However, as a teenager it was challenging to always be the model student and child. 

As a teenager, I wanted to have fun like everybody else, but was not allow as much freedom as my American friends! In the article I mentioned earlier, “The cultural expectations are that Asian women don’t have that kind of freedom to hang out, to go out with friends, to do the kinds of things most teenagers growing up want to do.” (Dr. Dung Ngo, a psychologist at Baylor University in Texas). Sadly I was that teenager.  While my friends went out on the weekends  partying or cruising, I was stuck working at a steak house with my sister. Also we were not allowed to hang out with male friends because that would look “bad”.  We had to lie just so we could go play basketball in brood daylight with them. Most of my American friends did not even have a curfew, they came and go as they please.  I was envious and shock that they had so much freedom while I was stuck at home cooking, cleaning and taking care of my younger siblings.  Of course like every other teenager, I argue with my parents over this injustice, but they did not relent.  My parents were convinced that if they give us girls the freedom to do whatever we had wanted we would not stay focus and finish our school.

The bottom line is my parents’ high expectations of me  were suffocating at times, but I managed to not let them push me over the edge and commit suicide like some Asian Americans. Yes, I do feel bitter sometimes that I didn’t fully get to be young and carefree, but I didn’t turn out so bad.  I wonder if they were more lax in their expectations how I would be today? Would I still be successful? Would I have been able to find my own way in the world? I don’t know if Asian parents push their children over the edge with their expectations, but I do have to admit it can be frustrating  for some to deal with. One thing I know for sure is that some kids do rise up to meet expectations because of their willingness to please those around them and even themselves. Also they exceed expectations because they themselves “buy in” to the idea of a better future.

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32 thoughts on “Do Asian Parents Push their Kids over the Edge?

  1. I think as far as suicide, if not left note or reasoning as to why, then we don’t know the whole truth, only speculation. I have 2 friends that both tried to commit suicide. One is a Chinese girl that came to the US at a young age, an overachiever, (a role model for me, we were in the same class but I’m always a step behind her in everything, she’s the reason that I’m still maintaining my ability to read Thai language because seeing her be able to speak Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin) and also reading it as well) She tried to commit suicide not because of school/parents related but because her boyfriend (his parents didn’t like her) died in a car accident and felt that she’d have been there with him, but assuming that she succeed in killing herself, one wouldn’t know the real reason. She graduated at the top of her class, passed a professional exam, worked for several years and was unhappy and went back to law school and recently passed her bar exam. I can’t say that she is currently happy, but she is very successful at a young age, very bright individual but a very unhappy person. She often comment that she wishes that she has a normal life like mine, not as successful but happy with what I have.

    Another friend is also an overachiever, and again tried to commit suicide because of her boyfriend cheated on her, luckily that she lived right next to the hospital, if she succeed in killing herself, again one would have thought that it was because her parents pushed her too hard in school. This one also did extremely well in school, and very happy with her life even though she is not as successful as the first one.

    I can’t say that both of their parents pushed them to do well in school; somehow they just have it in them. Just like myself, my parents never pushed me to do well in school, it’s more of a self realization that I need education to have a better life, seeing how my dad had to struggle with a dead-end job pushed me to do well. But again, this is from the emigration point of view, I’m sure others have a different perspective than mine.

  2. Alys

    I know this entry is extremely old, almost a year! But I am going through alot right now at the age of 19 and as a Laotian American myself. There is alot of pressure placed upon me, not just both sides of the family, but the entire community. It is alot, and right now I am frustrated because I am not able to have an active social life as I would like.

    I am going through a very transient and changing stage in life and it is difficult for me to try and indulge in it.

    If you have time, please contact me via email.

  3. Laotian Teacher

    Alys, are you half Laotian and half something else? I know what you are going through. It is difficult to meet everyone’s expectations because it conflicts with your own. The key is finding a balance between what you want to do as well as make your parents happy. One thing I have discover is: it is difficult to please our parents so sometimes we have to tell them that we can’t do everything they want and be who they want. You can still obey them, but you have to figure out what is important to you. I hope that helps.

  4. Wow, I guess I’m even late than Alys, my name is April and I’m half thai & lao, I’m Canadian and I was born in the province of Quebec, that means the majority of the time, I speak french.

    I hate having strict parents, I can’t do anything I mean I’m 16 and the only thing I want to do is at least take some time off my studies and have fun. Yes I score high marks, I’m even studying in an advance program called “Le programme d’éducation international”. My parents are putting too much pressure on me, they want me to have a good future and be a doctor… But the good thing about them, is that they let me have a boyfriend, than again, I can’t go to his place, it’s a bad thing for an asian girl to do. This makes me sick, I’m depressed because of them and it makes my school marks go down, and now they think it’s because of my relationship with my boyfriend.

    Now, I’m not aloud to invite him to our place until I get my first term report card (which I’ll receive in the month of november)… What should I do before I give up everything 😦

  5. Laotian Teacher

    April, I can’t really tell you what you should do because I don’t know you well enough, but I can relate to what you are going through. I went through the same thing as a teenager. First of all a lot of parents do not want their daughters to be going to some guys house. To them it doesn’t matter if it is the boyfriend. You are lucky that the even allow you to have a boyfriend because a lot of Asian parents are very old fashioned which means no boyfriends, hugging or kissing before marriage. You probably feel that your parents don’t trust you to be going to your boyfriend’s house. Just think of it this way, they are being protective and proventive. Remember your parent have known you longer than you boyfriend and they love you. Yes, I know sometimes their expectations is too much and you feel stressed and depressed about it. When that happens, write in a journal, call a friend, write a poem.

    What do you for fun that does not involve your boyfriend? Don’t just rely on your boyfriend to make you happy because then you will believe that HE is the only that makes the world go around. You are young, enjoy it.

    When it comes to Asian parents, they don’t listen very well. They think they know what’s best for you and that they are always right. Prove to them you are mature and responsible then they will ease up a little. Talk to them even if you think they will not give you what you what, at least you will tell them how you feel.

  6. Noi

    This is a very good piece. I’m 15 years old, I’m Laotion-American, and my parents have no trust in me at all. My friends say I’m the most responsible out of the high school and my heart is always in the right place. But the biggest problem is, my parents can’t see that. They think I’m imperfect, a smart aleck, they called me a “slut” or “mae jang” even though I haven’t done anything, I spend too much money, and I can’t cook. I’ve done everything else I though would match up to their expectations, except I currently have a B in one of my classes. They say the can only trust me until I graduate high school, but that would be in 4 years! I haven’t even slept over at a friend’s house before. I never had a boyfriend because I was terrified of the idea my parents would find out. I assume my parents are similar to other Asian parents because they do not want to listen to what I have to say. They are allowed to express their opinions but my side of the story goes in one ear and out the other. They don’t even want me on the computer right now because I supposedly talk too much to my friends. What should I do to gain their trust? I can’t wait 4 years for them to realize my responsibilites.

  7. Laotian Teacher

    Noi, just because you can’t cook and is a smart aleck does not make you a mae jang. I think your parents are just saying that as a reverse psychology… you know calling you that hoping you will not turn into one… I know it’s a weird idea and it doesn’t make any sense, but Laotian parents have a totally different outlook on things.

    Continue doing good in school. I know it’s hard but try to not let them get to you. When you talk to them, ask them why they call you a mae jang and tell them it makes you feel bad because you don’t deserve to be called that. Asked them would they rather you be failing school, having a boyfriend behind their backs or spend too much money or talk too much to your friends? I think they think that you are going to get “bad” ideas if you talk to your friends. My parents used to think I was going to do bad things if I hung out with my friends. I know you are frustrated but you can’t let it get you down. Even if they don’t listen, just try to talk to them and let it out. At least you get it off your chest!

    I am going to write something on this issue of what it means to be mae jang from the Laotian perspective.

  8. Justina

    I know how you feel, I think. High school junior Asian girl, only child. Painful. Do you ever feel like although you’re being “pushed” it’s always your fault? Like, for example, if you got a C on something (heh) like Math. And although you know that there have been just so many things going on in your life, it’s still completely your fault.

    As much as I complain about my parents though, I still feel ridiculously…unappreciative when I do. It’s still my fault, anyway. Why blame them?

    I hope I turn out as successful as you. Then maybe my parents could be a smidgen more proud.

  9. Laotian Teacher

    Justina, you sound like you have a good head on your shoulders. I think I know what you mean when you said that even though you are pushed you still feel that it’s your fault. For example, when I was in high school, I would complain because my parents would push me so hard in school and often not recognize my efforts. Then I would get mad or stress from my school work and blame them. Of course, part of it was their fault ( the pressure) but part of it was mine because I would procrastinate and wait the last minute to complete my homework.

    I teach Advanced Placement United States History and I have juniors. Sometimes, my students have to remind me that they are still in high school and not to be so hard on them. I a weird way I have turned into my parents (high expectations, no excuse mentality). However, my students know I care about them and that I am trying ot prepare them for college.

    Make sure you take your ACT and SAT. Start looking into scholarships and colleges now. I have a list of scholarship sites at my class website: kofapush.wordpress.com. Make education your top priority.:)

  10. Nofal

    I came from Pakistan to England when I was seven, I was over achieving that made my parents push me too far and at that time when i was 10 my teacher asked my parents how much work i did at home so my parents showed her the daily essays and then the teacher said I was doing way too much, my parents boasted about how well they did in school, in college and how they got a degree even though they have jobs as a sales assistant, see my family was and is broke. I didn’t have a well working computer and most of my work involved computers so almost every day i would take the bus home from school then too the nearest internet cafe which was 7 miles from my home i know you might be thinking 7 miles and you lived in London but what you don’t understand is that the cheapest one was 7 miles from my place.Up till I was 14 I was dealing with what my parents were throwing at me then came the days that my parents signed me up for tutoring in Chemistry, Biology, Physics, mathematics, English, Geography, French and Spanish and if you think I’m kidding just ask my parents I also had after school clubs and homework and parent’s homework.My mother was the worst teacher ever she tried to teach me something and if I got it wrong she would scream, shout and slap me about.i also had an Islamic tutor all the extra classes meant I was coming home at 8pm and then finishing the wrest of my work and finally being sent to go to bed at 11pm cause I had to go to school to restart the daily routine all over again, I had no social life, I had an Asian friend who was sent to a boarding school and his parents left him there until they were retired and needed somebody to care for their ass.My parents were looking at a C or a B on my report card and were blind to all the A grades.I was the first born in my family and they only let me concentrate on my studies I never had any friends out side of school, never had a care free child life, never anything i wanted to buy, I never had it easy and still am not having it easy I am only 14 and a month ago I gave up on my efforts in school.

  11. Laotian Teacher

    Nofal, please do not give up on your education! I know you are tired, frustrated, and angry but do not let it get to you. I believe what you are telling me about your parents because my parents pushed us hard as well. My only outlet was to read because I was not allowed to go hang out with friends, do normal teenage things. Your parents are obsessed with success. There is nothing wrong with wanting the best for you but, they need to ease up on you. You probably gave up because you are fed up with their demands. You are not getting anything in return. They should reward your efforts, not by money, but maybe, giving you time to do things you want, taking you out to celebrate, it could be something as minor as going to the movies. If they are not listening write them a letter explaining your frustration and what you want in return for your efforts in school. Find some friends to talk to, find something positive to do. I joined clubs at school, went to church and join the youth group so I can relax and get away from my parents once in awhile.

    Remember, your parents mean well but they just have a problem with balancing out their demands with what you want. Hang in there!

  12. Eddy Chen

    I was born in Atlanta, Gerogia. I am only 12 years old and I feel as if, I try my best during school and it is still not merely enough. I have an 18 year old overachiever in education, athletisism, and socially. I live in his shadows. I maintain an A in every class but a B in math, and yet they constantly rant at me for not trying my hardest, when I am doing the best of my abilities. They won’t let me have a social life. They won’t get me a cell phone, chat, or even go to my friend’s house. It makes me feel so jealous and mad at my American friends with Bs and Cs. They would have me locked up into a room and do nothing but study. Its really making me frustrated.

  13. Laotian Teacher

    Eddy, you are an individual, your own person, so please don’t feel that you are living in your brother’s shadow. You should tell your best that you are trying your best and let it go. More than likely they will say if you were trying your best then why do you have a B in math. My parents did the same thing to me. I struggled through Geometry and my mom thought I was slacking off. It is just that some of us are stronger in one subject and not the other. Your parents should not compare you to your brother in any way because you are an invidual!

    Eddy, don’t get stress out okay. Have you consider bargaining with your parents? Ask them if you do these things they want you to do if they would allow you to have some privileges. Tell them they need to give you a break because it is stressing you out, to not have an outlet. These things you asked your parents for is not much.

    Hang in there okay.

  14. XLL

    I live in Michigan and i’m the older of two kids oh and i’m a boyt out of Middle school, and my parents are telling me they want to move me out of the district because they want me to go to a better school. I already told them no but the just don’t care. I’m considered the second most social asian in my grade in the district and i don’t want to ruin what i did so yea. Last part of Eddy’s essay goes for me to and its pretty depressing i don’t get why we don’t just stand up to our parents? y asians just gotta be goodie goodie,its not right. Just stand up to your parents say whats on your mind tell em’ about what they really are if you want your life back. Tell them about you caucasian friends tell em like you mean it man i don’t want my kids growing up with the same stereotypes i have. Seriously take a stand, and when you do they are gunna threaten you like any other lame ass parent would. Sorry bout the language but a facts a fact asians are lame, asians don’t have social lives, they have lame parties. Asian this asian that but these stereotypes like our slightly slanted eyes are there for a reason people, because thier trueeeeeeeee. So what are you supposed to do? Change ddammit change, you want the social life start hanging out with white people you think are cool have social lives, enough time spent around them you’ll start to understand more about them what they like, they do for fun, they know. WHatever, if asians don’t do something we’re gunna end up with another thread 100 years in the future talking about asians pushing kids over the edge by “Laotian Teacher 100”. I don’t know if this is gunna make your life better but it made mine hell of a lot better:

    1. grow your hair out, even get highlights if possible, being asian and having cool hair while most others look like dicks makes you feel better and more noticeable.
    2. Make some more friends outside your asian community, like a lot more
    3. hang out with them more whenever, school, afterschool, parties (just get used to them)
    4. get some reasonable clothes ( AE, Hollister, no aero,try to avoid abercrombie)oh yea and when you do asian friends overreact and the only time you asian parents will let you buy this is like after elementry school when they still think you’re goodie goodie
    5. The whole hanging out with white friends thing was to basically get to know how to talk to girls unless you got some natrual gift hangout some more.
    6. These are just tips from my past 6 months of my life which have been the BEST 6 months of my life ever.
    &. Oh by the way the email adress is fake so don’t email anything to it.
    and try to keep this comment please…. it makes sense…. unless you’re a fag….. and you want your life to suck

    stand up stand out, and learn to talk and make girls laugh, it helps.

    oh btw guys only, because i’m a guy… yea and really its the guys who usually have most of the problems in middle school but who know’s i’m not a girl

    nothing in this little note i made for no reason, well actually i’m really pissed at my parents so other than that, i hope your life gets better. and congradulations for actually reading til the bottom if you made it

  15. darounie

    Hi,

    I know this blog is very old but I wanted to comment on it anyway. This is the second blog I’ve read of yours and I can’t wait to keep reading. Brace yourself, this comment is probably going to be long.

    You know, after I read this blog I realized there was another side of Lao-American parents and it was the side I experienced growing up. I come from the breed of Lao parents who just give in to their children. Don’t get me wrong though – I’m extremely thankful for everything I received growing up. My parents supported me and saw that I had to learn “my own way” to understand. They also practiced positive reinforcement and encouragement.

    But here’s what they lacked — they never pushed me to the edge. They were never strict and almost afraid of disciplining me because of how upset I’d get as a hormonal teenager. They weren’t trying to be my friend, they just didn’t know what to do because of my extreme emotions. They made the mistake of giving in and buying me things because in their minds they wanted me to have what the kids at school had and because they didn’t want me to be upset. I skipped school and got a way with a lot, and I don’t think it’s because they didn’t care to, like I said they just didn’t know what to do. They had no choice but to allow me to figure it all out by myself because they just couldn’t suggest anything without me blowing up.

    But I feel somewhat cheated, although I know my parents love me, it’s sort of like — how do I put this? I just feel I could of been a lot of smarter at that age. I cheated myself out of going to a university, I cheated myself from sports and now I have trouble accepting the answer “no”. For example, I used to skip school and be late all the time in high school and my parents let me get away with it – because they didn’t know how to fix it. This caused me to have all sorts of problems in college and at jobs. It’s things like this that I am learning to deal with now as an adult. It’s like I have no consistency and I’m always all over the place. I also feel sort of set up because I am so sensitive because I’m used to growing up getting my way. Of course I’ve grown up a little in the past year or two but I feel behind.

    I’ve noticed that a lot of kids younger than me (I’m 23) now have the same kind of parents. Not necessarily the ones that “give up and don’t care” but the kind where the kids get their way. I was at a meeting with some elder Lao community members and heard them say that kids these days aren’t scared of their parents and elders, the parents and elders are scared of the children.

    Would you consider this setting ourselves up for failure? I mean I found my way, but I don’t think everyone does. I wrote an essay for a class about this topic and I’d love to hear some feed back on it. It’s pretty surface-y but I think I went into it a little deeper in this comment I’m leaving you. It’s called “I’m not part of what they call the model minority.”

    Thanks for reading my comment.

    Alyssa Darounie

  16. steffi

    hi. Im Steffi and im living with my mom (were filipino) we just moved here in america 3 years ago.. and we’ve been through a lot in those years..my parents got divorced and everything just went downhill from that.. I was depressed for a long time.. during my 10th grade i really didnt have any friends..i dont even hangout with people that wnated to hangout with me..
    and then I again when i was in 11th grade i made a couple of friends and started hanging out with em..my mom was very strict about it and wont even let me go..but she kinda loosen up a little..i had a curfew around 10 which is reasonable enough..
    last summer i didnt have time to get it cuz i worked throught out summer.

    and now that its summer and i cant find a job..i usually hangout with my friends..
    at night cuz thats the only time they can hangout since they all work..
    and my mom would always get mad at me for coming home late..and told me that i dont repect her anymore..i mean Im 17 and as far as im concern this is the only time i felt like i got my friends back ..im really happy around em and its my way of escaping the reality of being depressed about my family..i love my mom but its hard to tell her that he got to trust me..I dont anything bad like other americaan kid..i dont drink or anything..and whenever i would explain myself she would think that im talking back to her..sometimes i just dont know what to do..
    Im rebellious kid i really dont listen to watever she says..and i know thats wrong..but thats just me…sometimes when she gets frustrated at me i wish i wasnt me..buz im causing her a lot of problems.. i just wanted her to understand that im gunna be 17 once…i just dont know how to deal with her anymore..

  17. Laotian Teacher

    Steffi, maybe you can compromise with your mom. Remember that she is worried about you. You can tell her all you want that you are not doing anything bad and that she should trust you, but the bottom line is maybe she doesn’t trust other people. You may not be doing bad things, but as a mother she has to think about all the potentially bad things that can happen to you.

    Try to compromise with your mom by not staying out too late, by calling her to let her know where you are at. You can have fun and still obey your mom. For example, talk to your mom and work out the days and hours of when you can hang out with your friends and when you will stay home. Can’t your friends come to your house instead? Ask your mom that, if she would allow your friends to come over. That way your mom knows exactly where you are and what you are doing. You are right you are only 17 once, but also remember, you only have one mother.

  18. Shaun

    hello Im 14
    i have asian parents… zzzz
    when i catch them doing something wrong they dunt admit it and start screaming at me

    f*** them, i hate them like hell

    they dunt even support me in what i wan to do

    getting A- is not enough

    i reli wan to die ><

  19. Laotian Teacher

    Shaun, I can not blame you for being upset, but taking your life is not the answer. Since, I am not a counselor, and I do not know the full story, please see your counselor at school. Also, you can talk to your friends as well. If you can’t talk to your parents, write them a letter and tell them how upset you are. I can really relate to you. Been there done that. My parents were the same way, but look at me now. I was able to make it because of my friends as well as my school activities and clubs. Get involve in extracurricular activities. Talk to people. Believe in yourself and do things for yourself. Hang in there kiddo. Trust me, if I could make it anybody can.

  20. jacob

    i’m only 16 and i come from singapore. over here, competition is very high and i’m always pushed to strive and do more than i possibly can handle. my parents never understood me and always believed i was not maxing out my full potential. They did ,however, recognise my achievements in school but for a few hours, they would be proud and then after that, they can relate to exams that have passed more than a year ago and nag on me to do better. i study for hours on end and when i wanna use the computer, they restrict me. its a good thing they’re not home right now, or i’ll be dead caught using it without their “permission”

    can you believe it? i’m already 16 and i still need their permission to use the computer! i really hate this society here. i really cannot understand how my friends are given so much freedom and yet they can achieve acadamically and physically.they never looked at my As in my report card nad always focused on my Bs and Cs. i really wanna do well for them but they just cannot understand that i’m alr doing the most i can. they think they “understand” my potential but they completely don’t. i can see that people pulled through this and grew up and became sucessful adults. i cannot understand how they did this and i really wanna stop and give up. i’ve ever punched the wall till my fingers bled before bcos i was so frustrated at myself for not gaining acceptance from my parents.

    i really don’t know how to deal with them anymore…….

    1. Momo

      Um, I don’t know the whole situation, but in regards to your parents not focusing on your achievements more, I know what you mean. I think it’s because they already expect to see A’s instead of B’s and C’s. My mom tells me, “as long as you KNOW that you did your ABSOLUTE BEST, then you can accept that you deserve the grade you got.”

      That phrase really helped me through high school.

      1. Momo

        Also, if you don’t know how to deal with them, stop looking for their approval. This is your life, not theirs. If you’re proud of yourself, that’s it. It’s nice to get your parents’ approval, but in the end you’re not going to spend the rest of your life looking for a “good job, I’m so proud of you” are you?

  21. Laotian Teacher

    Jacob, I believe everything you say because my parents is the same way. It is very typical of some Asian parents to expect a great deal from their kids without appreciating the efforts they have already made. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Hang in there. I’m going to write a new post in regards to your comment about how do people in similiar situation handle it. If it helps you to vent your frustration here, you are more than welcome to.

  22. G

    ok I found this cause I googled asian parents being unreasonable.

    I’m a 2nd generation chinese-american. My parents pushed me a LOT growing up and now I am a doctor. Still, I’m not happy and I have a lot of anger issues. I also feel like they know nothing about my likes and preferences, and when I bring up the fact that they know nothing about me, they don’t even seem to care. They are only obsessed with how un-Chinese I am and imply that I am lazy, then tell me how easy medical school is in the united states, and how everyone in America could be a doctor if they weren’t so lazy. They are not doctors themselves but apparently know it all.

  23. Emma Ni

    OMG,im a FULL chinese girl born in Canada!MY ASIAN PARENTS ARE MAD!!!They like bought a wooden spoon specifficly meant for beating me!!!My dad is alright but my mom threatans me 2 do ANYTHING!!!She once even threatend 2 kill me!She wont let me go anywhere with my friends,only lets me work and work!!!I HATE HERRR!!!! 😦

  24. Momo

    Wow I’m reading these and I’m counting my blessings. I’m a Chinese American and my parents rarely beat me. Probably because I knew what would happen if I misbehaved and stuff. But when I did talk back I got it really bad.

    I also know what you guys mean about the “model minority” stuff, and I kind of take pride in that. My parents definitely had high expectations of me, but I had high expectations of myself as well, so I strove to be as good and better that anyone else.

    My parents were educated in America for college. They put a lot of pressure on me at an early age to get good grades and value my education. Eventually I came to understand where they were coming from. Thankfully to my mom she gave me a degree of freedom to do what I wanted. She told me I could do whatever I wanted to do for a job, as long as I was happy with it. And now I’m in college getting an engineering degree.

  25. tinyryn

    Thank you, thank you! Finally, a person who isn’t so ignorant like so many exaggerating Asian teens. I’m 14 and soon to be turning 15 and I was just reading some articles about Asian Parents. I remember as a little kid, my mom would hit me sometimes…I think that’s why I’m such a sensitive girl today. She threatened to throw us (my brother and I) both out the car one day because my brother (sensitive guy too) was driving both of us insane by being a wimpy kid (long story), and I could tell it was because she was angry not at us but also from stress of family member’s health problems. I used to be so sensitive that I would tear up even when my mom scolded me, saying, “You didn’t wash the clothes right!” As I grew up, however, I’m not exactly sure how I became less sensitive. I watched a lot of cartoons and read a lot of Japanese Manga which I think inspired me to hide my feelings and to become stronger – stuff like you shouldn’t be bawling your eyes out like a drama queen and to believe in yourself and think positively about everything. My stronger friends who don’t seem to live in this ignorant era have also been helping me raise my self-esteem when at home, times are tough which is why I consider school and homes almost like two different worlds. You know, they always told me to become a lawyer or doctor, but they’re rather flexible as long as the career will help me succeed.
    As a child, I used to think they never gave me credit for the above-average grades, but I slowly realized with time that that is what makes us reach higher. In fact, I think it’s better that they nod at my grades than to spoil me.
    Also, it’s not like we’re poor. We’re part of the middle class, but being part of this class means they have to work very hard. My mom’s feet hurt when she’s walking around too much (it gets worse in Winter) and my dad has some cholesterol problems. I have always noticed their problems, but they don’t tell me because that’s just how it goes. They don’t want us to worry, but I’ve grown to be angry at them for never telling me anything. I know they’re doing this out of good for me, but it hurts more when I know they’re hurting and they won’t share their pain with me. And over time, I started to realize that I had wanted to make them never suffer from stuff like that.
    They didn’t push me to succeed. I figured it out because I realized that out of all of this, they wanted a better future for me than they had. They didn’t push me to care for them; I realized because they were hiding their pain away from me. One of my biggest dreams is to get a high-paying job so I can give them a better home and better health care..all of this was just self-realization.
    Unfortunately, it makes me extremely angry to see a lot of Asians ungrateful because they don’t see how hard their parents work.
    They scold so we can learn, but many are so angry that they don’t hear.
    Asian teens over exaggerate the “beating.” I was beaten and it hurt, but it was out of good.
    They don’t give us money, so what? What can we buy that is WORTH it when we don’t know the true worth of anything? I’m always telling my dad not to give me money for raking the lawn because they need it for food and clothes.
    Yeah, we eat rice. At least we’re not eating McDonald’s. It’s not like Asians have NEVER eaten pizza or french fries! They expose us to this food once in a while.
    I think some Asian teens are ignorant and don’t see that what their parents are doing is for their good. My friends and family have all been contributing to me. My friends bring out my personality while my family is teaching me how to succeed so I can become happy one day.

  26. Hello, my dad just yelled at me and im really upset. im only 10 and and getting ready for my 11+. please help me, i really want to die. at least i will be happy. no dad pushing me. my mum is a lot kinder but even she pushes me. i am an IVF premature baby born after 21 years and everyone says that im really special and my parents love me so much, but most of the time im pretty much sure they dont. PLEASE HELP!

  27. Danny

    I like your story piece, but when I read your replies to people who are frustrated, it seems like you’re bringing up the parent’s perspective. That’s a good thing but at the same time…it’s also discouraging.

    I am Hmong…a minority group in Laos. And no kidding about the expectations and high standards of school…my parents are even more extreme. They go all out on whom to marry and not to marry and that I should not hang out with friends because friends are not going to be there when you need anyone. A lack of social life….do they even know the consequences of it? Children who are raised by overprotective parents lack emotional maturity (Statistically proven). That is why our rate in commiting suicide may seem be higher than other races. I want to know how to react toward parents who never let us go out especially when we’re 19? I held hands with my first boyfriend and dang….after that they provoke me to the point where I get angry. I live an unhappy life….a life full of anger…a life full of loneliness. What good is it to get an education to take care of our physical needs when all there is to life is just being controlled by my parents?

    Don’t get me wrong..I have rebelled. But you know the result? They say that I’m mean and now other people say that I’m a bad child. My siblings help my mom and dad criticise me. Do I just have to just shut my mouth and do w/e they want? Why not just brainwash me and make me a robot?

    Enough understanding parents. I’m tired of going with what they want. What they want is a good education…parents who make the decisions for their kids do not deserve to be a parent. Of course it is less likely for their kids to get hurt by others but the reality is…the kids get hurt more from their parents more than anything else. I just wished that even if my parents don’t trust me…they’ll trust God. God will be there to watch over me. My boyfriend and I will not do anything that will go agaisnt God even if we’re alone. I wished that my parents would just one day give me this trust. I can give up anything for this day. “sigh”

    1. John

      Hi, my name is John and I’m 13. My background country is Vietnam.
      I live south-eastern Australia and I’m currently working on a Farm with my parents.
      We plant fruits such as strawberries, Tomatoes and eggplant.
      I work really hard, we hire only a few people because my parents are a bit poor.
      During holidays I can’t take a proper break, I have to work even though It’s raining or hot and I work long hours without getting payed.

      I hate to say this but I have no option but to let myself be forced to work because of my parents are old and would kick me out if i don’t, my father is 75 and my mother is 55. My father is rather stupid because he chose to start a new family at aged 60 because his first wife ran away along with the kids to another place far away.

      My parents say I work for myself – to pay off the school fees and stationary, even though I don’t want to go to an expensive school but my parents want me to have a good education. I can’t even do my work at school because i’m only focusing my work at home so I’m really depressed how I don’t have time to do my homework.

      I put soo much effort when I work, I plant crops during winter and yeah, my hands
      become really numb, and when harvesting, I have to pick all sorts, e.g. tomatoes which 1 bucket is like 15kg and carry all the way back to the top everytime I fill a bucket… I don’t even tell my parents when I’m sick because they will just feel more saddened and how hopless I am. I don’t know whats wrong with my parents,
      they are just too FUCKING STRICT AND I NEED A LOT OF HELP BEFORE I SUICIDE, INSIDE MY HEAD IS LIKE A BOMB WHICH IS ABOUT TO EXPLODEEEEE!!!! WHY IS LIFE SO HARRRDDD???!!!!! SOOO MUCH SUFFERRING AND PAIN!!!
      When someone just reads this, they don’t care like how I don’t care about my life… It’s like being used as a tool and when it breaks It can never be fixed.
      No one can truly understand the meaning of peace, freedom and happiness when you haven’t went through the suffering.
      That’s all I have to say for today folks, I’m sorry for my anger, I just had to let it out.

  28. blerg

    I think that perhaps parents who were not born and raised here do not understand the cultural divide other second generation Laotians like myself experience growing up immersed in American culture.

    Nothing like strict parents to keep your self esteem at the bottom. But it’s ok, once you realize that by the time you reach high school that you have likely become more educated than your parents, it’s ok to not feel pressured by them anymore and start figuring out what makes you happy and what you want to pursue in school/life.

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