Meet the (Asian) Parents – Well. The mom.
November 1, 2010 5 Comments
So you finally found your Asian man, and after dating him for a while he wants to introduce you to his parents.
Hold on a second. I can tell as an Asian, that spells trouble already. Well, good for him for willing to introduce you, but there is a lot more to it than it seems. Maybe I can help by providing some preparation material.
Regardless of the country, Asians in general share the same ideology when it comes to dating. It has to be serious. The conservative Asian culture tends to frown on relationships purely based on private romantic interludes. If they are really traditional, serious dating is only the prequel to marriage.
Our parents roughly belong to the baby boomer generation. They grew up strongly influenced by their parents’ bitter post war mentality. Food was sparse, and the wealth of the family was low. The only way advance in society was to work harder. While the average person worked 8 hours, we pushed hard for 10 or even 12 hours a day. Our parents pinched every penny possible in hopes that their children could live a better life.
The View of Caucasians
It was not until the 19th century that there was strong Western influence over Asia. China had been crippled internally and was divided up among international powers for trade. Just like China, Vietnam and Philippines also had influences from the French and Spanish/Americans respectively. While this angst may not be directly carried over, we still have derogatory terms to refer Caucasians.
Japan was really the only nation to completely allow Western influence since 1853.
Now what are the chances that members of the Navy were kind, loving socialites? In most cases, they would have been the classic brutish aggressive man. On the side note, it makes me wonder. If the majority of the explorers in this world were Caucasian (including Europe), then it’s no wonder why white guys naturally go for the Asian girls. I really can’t name you any real Asian explorer. Honestly, I can’t think of one. We just loved our isolationism – guess that’s evolution.
Fast forward to modern times. I can tell you right now the biggest stereotypes Asian parents have of white people is that they are hedonists who has absolutely no control of their finances. Money is a big deal for Asians, and it doesn’t help with the common fear that a white person is going to steal all the wealth away. (refer to above)
For the hedonist portion, it’s more of a lack of control of impulses. This is tied into money by the fact that by immediately seeking pleasure, we are unable to build up wealth and become a slave to money. A stern, reserved, and discipline Asian is ideal.
These are some pretty big stereotypes to break through, and if you truly are in love with your Asian man, you cannot avoid this. However this is not impossible either.
The Phases of Acceptance
There are different mannerisms to treat people based on their social closeness. I would generally classify this as:
I. The Foreigner – Parents will be reserved, and closed off
II. The Friend – Now they see you as trustworthy and a good influence
III. The Daughter In Law – Approval. Finally. You’re part of the family.
Obviously the ultimate goal is to reach the third one, but you have to earn your way through each phase.
Phase One – The Foreigner
Didn’t your parents tell you not to talk to strangers? Well if the parents aren’t fully Westernized then, this is probably the toughest layer to get past. Don’t worry, when you breakthrough this one, it’s smooth sailing. The one you really need to pay the most attention to is his mom. In traditional Asian families, dad brings in the income, and mom maintains household vitality. She is the key to the success and failure of the relationship. For the most part, I would believe the dad may not appear supportive to appease his wife, but secretly he is proud of his son.
His mom is always looking out for her beloved son. You have to establish you that you love him as a person and never for his finances or status. Stand firm, and hold your ground. This is a test of resiliency. She will want to find out your education, career path, and future. Anything practical and reasonable will be fine with her. She will be slightly displeased with an unpractical career like an artist. If her control of English is not strong, be warned that there will be a lack of tact. Don’t be offended, just agree and refrain from prolonged direct eye contact (it may be considered rude or hostile). Show some humility for brownie points. Make sure you find the correct ways to address everyone. Greet everyone in the household when you first enter. Find out proper Asian table manners.
Direct conversation may not be possible at this time, and most likely you will actually have to build rapport through his mom’s influences.
Phase Two – The Friend
Building rapport is done through the community. In most cases Asian are a tightly knit community usually based around religious faith, societal clubs, or social hobbies. Asian women love to socialize and gossip.
With such a close social network, everything is shared. This is why it is so important to establish your good intentions through secondary channels so that good word about you is spread to her friends. She will warm up knowing that you help out in the community. Conversely the opposite also holds true.
Minimize collateral damage by familiarizing yourself with Asian culture – and the cultural specifics to his nationality. General manners of respect and reservation is welcomed. Look into gift giving, don’t come empty-handed into his parent’s house for large social events. It doesn’t have to be something absolutely special, just a sign you are thinking about the family. There is a caveat, avoid clocks (your time to die), hats (unfaithfulness) for the most part – just ask your Asian friends. Something completely generic is fine. Don’t stress out.
Phase Three – The Daughter in Law
Congratulations. You’ve finally made it here. You’re part of the family. It was a rocky start at first, but look how far you’ve come along. Come and visit the family often, maybe bi weekly. By now you’ve earned respect from his mom. Make sure you always maintain it and maybe soon she’s going to rant to you. (A good sign when it’s not involving you)
If marriage is in the future, don’t worry Asian moms have their ways with their son. Show that you are fully competent in life skills, and they will be more than pleased.