My blog has a real name lol that is a bit more creative but reflective of me, or at least how I would like to be perceived.
I know this summer really isn’t about pastel colours but who cares. Wear what you want, right? I decided to go pink and mint-blue for an evening out with the lover to see some Shakespeare in High Park. The Dream was putting on Macbeth. It was a great performance and I think we’ll be heading back to see the Taming of the Shrew which is the other show this season.
There are so many fun things happening this summer and I’ve been just too caught up in it all in addition to trying to get some real research done, obtaining a part-time job andddd finding an apartment! John and I, after eight years of being together, are moving out and in together! Its been too long overdue but we’ve had a lot of hurdles to overcome.
I’m sure many others can relate. You’re growing and trying to find yourself in this world, but it is complicated by your familial duties. Whether you are burdened with the responsibility to take care of your parents, financially or otherwise, or you have overbearing parents who cannot let you go, or there is a great amount of social and cultural stigma of the idea of you moving out (girls here we go…) and/or in with a significant other (…you know what I mean); these are all issues that we have to face.
For me it has always been complicated and I have always felt divided by my culture. I am deeply in tune with my Vietnamese culture and the social obligations of filial piety and womanly duty, yet simultaneously, I grew up in a Western culture where independence and freedom are perhaps essential to enter into adulthood. How do you conciliate that cultural divide, that identity crisis? How do you pacify the rift that will invariably occur between you and co-dependent parents. But are they really all that dependent on you?
Not entirely, I think. For those of you who do not understand, in many cultures – and for me I speak from my Asian background – children really never achieve full independence from their parents and perhaps vice versa. There is no such thing as a ‘nuclear’ family. You are born into your family, raised by your parents, and you have an obligation to return that favour – the gift of life – that your parents deigned to give you. The relationship is contractual in some senses. They gave you life, raised you with their money, and in their old age you must return the favour. Well I agree with the latter part, that is, ensuring that you provide for your ailing parents in their old age. But the problem with this system is that there is such an insistence that when you grow up and enter adulthood you do not leave the nest, you must remain. You may be permitted to leave at marriage, but even then, there is potential that immediately you are obliged to live with your parents to reduce the cost of living. When you have your own children, the same cycle is repeated.
Yes, you are responsible, yes you care for your parents, and perhaps you owe them your life and must do something for them. But the problem I have with such mentality is that the obligations are not emotionally based. You stay because your are emotionally manipulated, if you do not, they lose face so its not so much about you, its more about their reputation. The financial obligation you have towards them is supposed to be voluntary, but they demand it of you far too much. The relationship turns from an emotional attachment supplemented with a material currency, into a relationship of and dependent upon material currency. No money, no love. Who could love a child that does not fulfill their filial duty? What dishonour.
Now some of you may find my criticisms unfilial, even repulsive. But hear me out. I am not saying if your parents are very old that you should leave them. After all there are, I think, several situations here: 1) adult children who have VERY elderly parents, 2) adult children whose parents can not survive financially without them, 3) adult children whose parents’ financial situation is stable but who do not want their children to leave the home whether it be to cut down on cost, or to shield them from social stigma.
I write and refer to the third circumstance. All I am saying is that there is somehow this stigma for young people to leave and be independent (move out) because parents refuse to be independent themselves – or fear losing a sense of control? Parents may rely on their children back home, no doubt. But as part of the diasporic Viet community, we live else where now and our parents are truly not dependent on us in the same manner.
This has turned into something of a complicated entry so I will stop here but I’d love to write more and discuss this issue so write me if you’d like. But I know that there are plenty of you out there who will agree with me when I say, as an Asian person growing up in the West, I fear that the guilt that prevents you from moving out to become your own person may be the very thing that closes all the door to your bright future – the future that you parents came here to give to you.
I want many doors to open up for me and that means learning to be my own person without parental demands, manipulation, and control. That means learning to be me on my own term. That means living how I want to live to make the most of this one life that we were given to the parents that I will be eternally grateful to.
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