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Monday, February 8, 2016

The Serious Truth about Chinese Families

Every since I was a child, I would watch shows like Growing Pains and Charles in Charge and wonder why my family wasn't as warm and affectionate as those I see on TV. To this day I have not told my parents that "I love them", not because I do not care for them but rather because it would make everyone feel awkward. This goes for my siblings as well. I have other Chinese friends who have similar experiences so I figure it must be a Chinese cultural thing.
Like I said before, it is not that the parents don't like their kids or vice versa but rather family love is expressed differently in Chinese society. The way Chinese parents show that they love their kids is by cooking huge meals or catering to their needs. My dad and I have never hugged or reciprocated verbal expressions of love but every time I come home for dinner, there is a feast of my favorite foods waiting for me. Another popular sign of affection among the Chinese, is a phenomenon I call chauffeuring. I have noticed that Chinese parents make up for a bulk of the people waiting in cars outside of schools and workplaces where there are Chinese people.

An interesting observation related to awkwardness towards public displays of affection is whenever the entire family is watching TV or a movie and a sex scene comes on, I will usually try to remove myself from the room or somehow change the channel. It doesn't even have to contain nudity, the suggestions of raunchy action is enough to make things extremely awkward. Even to this day, when I visit my parents, I become extremely uncomfortable when such scenes come on the TV.
Of course Americanized Chinese households might have a different experience but I believe embedded in Chinese tradition is a type of unspoken taboo against public displays of affection. Although expressions of affection has its place, I personally enjoy the way things are now (no outward displays of affection among my family) and would be completely mortified if my parents all of a sudden became more like Mr. and Mrs. Seaver.

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