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    "I Genuinely Want To Take Care Of My Elders": Asian Americans Are Sharing The Parenting Techniques And Traditions They're Continuing With Their Own Kids

    "From my maternal side, there's a heavy sense of filial piety, and from both sides, that previous generation sacrificed a lot for me to be here. Contextualizing our family history in the story of America makes me secure in my sense of self and allows me to empathize when I see patterns of xenophobia against other immigrant groups."

    We all know the stereotypes about Asian parents. In Hollywood, they're often portrayed as people who push their children to study specific fields like medicine and law while ignoring their kids' dreams and failing to support them emotionally.

    A mother and son standing across from each other at a table

    Well, I recently stumbled on a Reddit post where u/nlwwie focused on the opposite and asked Asian Americans which parenting styles and traditions they actually want to pass down to their own kids.

    A smiling dad with a smiling child embracing his neck from behind

    Here are some of the thoughtful responses:

    1. "I want my children to feel free to explore their potential. My parents had high expectations of me, which made me believe that I had high potential, which I then made some progress in realizing. Some children are led to believe that they aren't capable of anything, but it was a given in our household that we had good minds and bodies, and with those, we would achieve anything if we worked for it."

    "We never doubted that college would happen for each of us, and we made wise decisions leading up to it. I think that's a good attitude to instill."


    2. "The positives of my Korean immigrant parents: 1) working hard, 2) not complaining/being grateful for what they have, and 3) knowing the importance of being in community/family gatherings and taking care of others (hospitality)."

    "I want to pass on the positives. I hope the negatives aren't so deeply ingrained in me that I unknowingly or knowingly pass those on. Therapy has helped to unpack a lot of this."


    3. "Food culture is such a big part of Chinese culture. The rituals around how people invite others to eat, order food at a restaurant, choose a seat, fight over the check, share food, etc. The family dynamic around the dinner table is something I'd like to keep going for the next generation."

    "And not just the dining side, either. I'm a pretty serious cook, and I want to be able to pass down memories embedded in the tastes and smells of the dishes that my kids eat. I hope that one day, when they're 40 years old, they have a burst of nostalgia about a bowl of beef noodle soup or a scallion pancake they happen to eat, and they remember fondly cooking with me in the kitchen or eating with me at a restaurant."


    A family eating around a dining table

    4. "Nothing wrong with high expectations. I expect my kids to do their best always and explore their full potential. But I don't think that's a uniquely Asian thing. What culture doesn't want their kids to do well and succeed? The problem with my parents (and I'm sure a lot of other people, too) is the amount and type of responsiveness to how we stepped up to those expectations. Whereas with my kids, if they don't do well in a class or test or anything, really, I talk to them."

    "If they didn't meet that expectation even though I could tell they tried their best, I go over with them what they and what I thought they did well and did not do well. And then I have them figure out strategies to do better next time. If it was due to lack of effort, then that gets discussed. One time is a warning; anything else, and privileges get taken away and can be earned back."


    5. "A bit of generational wisdom from my grandparents to my parents to me is, 'You have two hands; why not use them and pitch in?' Meaning there is always something to do, and you can get recognized for going above and beyond. I dunno if those are necessarily traditional Chinese values, but they're ones I definitely want to pass on to the next generation."

    "From my maternal side, there's a heavy sense of filial piety, and from both sides, that previous generation sacrificed a lot for me to be here. Contextualizing our family history in the story of America makes me secure in my sense of self and allows me to empathize when I see repeated patterns of xenophobia against other immigrant groups."


    6. "I feel like we were taught early in life not to think of ourselves first, and the importance of family and sacrifice. Now that I’m older and financially stable, I genuinely WANT to take care of my elders. I might be humble to a fault in my industry, but deep down, I know people respect my work."


    Two children embracing their grandfather

    7. "Maybe because I'm third generation, my parents very much stressed the importance of coming to my own decisions and believing in something because I decided to, not because someone told me to. Something my dad told me (and my yeh-yeh told him) was, 'At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what anyone, including us, thinks — the only person you need to satisfy is the one looking back at you in the mirror.'"

    "Not in a 'Go be selfish' way, but in an 'Am I okay with my decision-making?' way. My parents expressed that they'll unconditionally support whatever I do, and if I'm ever in a tough spot, I can always come home/ask for help. I want to be a similar safe space for future kids."


    8. "My husband and I love our parents, but we didn't love their style of parenting. We have made amends because being poor, being immigrant, and being diaspora came with its own unique set of challenges for survival. As we have gotten older, we can fully understand and appreciate the hardships they went through to keep us alive. Where our parents stressed nothing but study, study, study and get a good-paying, secure job, I find myself more in tune with the emotional needs of my own child, partially because I rebelled against the traditional trajectory of doctor, lawyer, or engineer."

    "I went into the creative arts, with the entire family lambasting my choice of a career (all except my dad, who was emotionally absent but quietly supportive). That is not to say we don't instill the need to try to do your best, but if your best was a low test score on a given day, it is not a cause for any type of punishment. We teach learning from mistakes so we can be better next time. We extol the virtues of giving your best effort and celebrate that above all else."


    9. "I would definitely try to get my future kids into playing instruments because it just adds a lot when you can appreciate music. Not make them into pros or anything, but I think that playing piano at a young age really adds a lot (though I played violin) to your understanding of music theory."


    Child playing piano as adult stands over her also playing

    10. "I know what they're capable of and expect them to try their best. This doesn't mean they need to get straight A's, but when they don't try their best, they do not get rewarded. They may be near the top of their class, but if they aren't giving it their all, it doesn't matter to me."

    "I also don't give them a lot of toys or everything they ask for. If they can convince me why they need it or they work toward it after we come to a deal, then I follow through and get it. I also teach them the language, food, and culture."


    11. "Not yet a parent, but thinking about it! I want to keep the good pieces of filial piety. By that, I mean instilling a strong sense of connection and care for the family unit. Stepping in to help each other out and being intentional about contributing because that's what families do."


    12. "I have two very young kids, and the biggest thing I've tried to keep culturally has been putting a value on learning, maxing out your ability, and our foods. These aren't really unique to Asians, though; I think of them more so as immigrant values."


    13. And finally, "I don't really expect to do the 'tiger parents' thing. My parents didn't do it with me, and I was always a bit of a class clown who coasted through school. I don't think academics are all that important, and I think that success is defined more as an internal state rather than an external social approval of your position in life (whether that's money, career, accomplishments, or even relationships)."

    "In any event, I expect that my kids will be handed all sorts of advantages in life simply by virtue of being the children of loving/happy parents, so they'll be fine."


    Parents and their two children smiling

    Any lessons from your parents that you'll pass on to your own kids? LMK in the comments below!

    Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.