My parents, like most others in their situation, have been through a lot. Both of them immigrated to the United States without even a basic command of English, worked hard in college, and got jobs as engineers here in the Bay Area, where they’ve lived ever since. After several years of working for their respective companies, I was born, which is where their
adventures in parenting began.
I can’t remember any specifics from my early childhood, up until around third grade, which means that nothing particularly traumatic happened. I know that by fourth grade I was better at math than anyone else in my elementary school, so my parents must have a hand in that. Of course, at the time I didn’t want to do math, and combined with my shy personality, I probably exploded into unexplainable temper tantrums relatively frequently. This emphasis on academic strength, not just math, continued throughout middle school and high school, doubtless influenced by how my parents grew up and were able to achieve their success. However, even to this day, I still doubt the merit of this method, but unlike in the past I have turned my animosity into a more passive form of resistance, which is much easier on everyone involved.
The peculiar thing about parenting is that even there are many books on the subject, they are all directed toward the parents, and never toward the kids. In any other relationship, for example romantic or business ones, guides exist for both parties, but there are very few, if any, manuals for kids to learn how to deal with parents. Add this to the fact that Asian parents, from what I observe, tend to be reticent about what they are going through, resulting in a lack of information about my parents’ emotions. However, perhaps this lack of information was actually beneficial for me, sparing me from the burden of grappling with situations that I did not understand. Regardless, I’m at the point in my life where I feel sufficiently equipped to deal with the majority of the situations that I will encounter, so I guess my parents did a good job.
Looking back, I realize that parenting is incredibly difficult. It’s like playing a video game where you are trying to help your character grow and achieve success, but where the rules change every day without your consent or knowledge. Most other animals, even the most advanced ones, such as elephants or dolphins, spend at most several years with their parents
before striking out on their own, and come into this world equipped with a basic skill set: dolphins do not need to be taught how to swim, and elephants how to walk. However, a human baby is incapable of anything except the most basic bodily functions, so turning one into an adult is truly a miracle. It also must be very painful to have something that you’ve painstakingly created say they hate you, so everytime I get mad that my parents won’t let me watch the Giants game or go
play basketball, I step in their shoes and force myself to not complain.
In summary, we need to appreciate all parents, not just our own, because what they have accomplished is nothing short of extraordinary.