being asian · blogging · family · life · perception · Writing prompt

Prompt: My Role In My Family

I have to admit, I was not looking forward to writing about this particular topic. I’m somewhat uncomfortable with my role in my family! 😦 It’s gotten worse for me now that I’m “older” (I’m 27) where I feel incredibly lost trying to figure out how I feel about my own family and the intricacies and complexities of being in a family where I’ve perceived that there are so many things going wrong with not just me but my immediate family too. No one has a perfect family but I don’t have a ton of experience talking to other people about the struggles they face with their parents or siblings so it’s hard for me to believe that this kind of situation is common for most families.

My role in the family is neither a caretaker or a provider. A leadership role has never been my turf, and even more so because I’m the youngest child. I wonder if I would have turned out any differently had I been an only child or if I was the oldest child. I was very dependent on my parents when I was a child because of being conditioned to it without my parents realizing it. For example, it seemed like my parents never instilled a sense of independence in me from an early age. For them, it was more about getting stuff done and having one less problem to worry about. But also, I sense that they didn’t know how to let go and stop doing stuff for me and start allowing me to do things on my own. Something as simple as picking out my own clothes was a foreign concept to me. As late as 8 years old, I was already feeling slight anxiety if my mom wasn’t the one to choose my outfit because I was scared of doing it myself. I recall in junior high school, my dad was still helping me tie my shoelaces.

I will probably never have children of my own, so I will never experience what other parents go through, where their babies grow up and become of legal age but they still cannot help but treat them as they are five years old. I can rationalize why my parents have a hard time letting go or why they have a difficult time with abstaining from doing things for me as if I were still a little kid. They’ve had years and years to get accustomed to being habitually parental. Once I complained to someone about how irritating my dad can be with his constant mollycoddling, and this person pointed out that perhaps my dad is so used to being that way it’s not easy for him to change. I doubt he will change because it seems like the idea of change is non-existent to him. In my dad’s own words, he’s said that “I’m just too used to being this way”.

The one thing I am always in conflict with is being depended on by my parents. I wonder if I would feel differently about this if I were the eldest child instead of the younger child, or if I were their only child. At the end of the day, I know my parents can’t help but depend on me for certain things and I can’t begrudge them for it. An example is my parents don’t really speak English. My mom can speak basic English, but reading and writing it beyond the basic level is difficult for her, so there are times she prefers to ask me if she doesn’t understand something. My dad is almost completely illiterate and speaks broken English. Most of the freelance construction work he does is for Jewish people, and he often has me help him type English messages via text to send to his bosses. It’s not that I don’t want to help them. My concern is that they’re dependent on me, but I don’t know what will happen in the future where I could someday move away or no longer see my parents on a daily basis like I do now. So it’s like… I can’t always do this stuff for them when I might have bigger obligations of my own someday.


This prompt originates from this list.

Write about your role in your family.

7 thoughts on “Prompt: My Role In My Family

  1. My aunts who are only a few years older than you got a town home with my grandparents who, like your parents, aren’t so good with English. They had always all lived together because it was easier and bear that way but the older aunt had her boyfriend move in and my grandparents living in the same house was no longer the most comfy situation. My grandparents moved literally less than a mile away in their own small town home now, they don’t live together but can always get to each other if needed ASAP. They need you so you can’t just leave them. It is right to take care of your elders, there should be no shame in helping and staying with your parents.

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    1. Sounds like your aunts are comfortable living together and being in each other’s company. I can see how the older aunt’s boyfriend moving in would upset the balance of the living arrangements all of them were at ease with.

      There is that obligation I feel towards helping my parents with things, but at the same time, I have my own life and I sometimes long for days where I can come home and just be completely alone without one of my parents there. I feel there is problems in their culture; not just because my parents still sometimes worry about me as if I were a kid.

      I feel either way if I were to ever move out one day, my parents would be unhappy about the change and having to readjust their lives to not having me there, but tough luck. I’m not yet at the point where I have the financial means to move out, but if it ever happens, of course I know someone will be unhappy about it anyways, but what can I do? I do not intend to stay so near to my parents forever. It will happen sooner or later. It was the same way when my brother moved out. They let go of him, but reluctantly. It bothers me that even now they put their cultural ideals onto him and when he doesn’t meet their expectations, they act disappointed. An example is like how my dad expects my brother to come home often even though he has his own apartment with his girlfriend. And my understanding is that he cares more about my brother meeting what he believes is an Asian cultural expectation, but it’s kinda stupid in my opinion. Like, my dad and my brother are not close. How can he expect affectionate behavior to satisfy a cultural whim, rather than it being about a genuine, familial connection? And at the same time, my brother has his own life, so it annoys me that my dad acts like he should be at his beck and call.

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  2. It seems to be a situation that you find annoying – you depend on your parents for accommodation, and they depend on your for translation and understanding the every day. To be honest I don’t see anything wrong or any shame in still living at home. I suppose when the time is right, you will move out and perhaps one day, get a place of your own.

    Mollycoddling is common among many Asian families in my opinion, or at the very least the parents (older generation) are happy to do almost everything for their kids – maybe for the common they will be more comfortable life reason. However I think aging folks is the same for a lot of us, Asian or not – that at some stage we will need to take care of them to a degree.

    The subject of having children is a touchy one, and coming from a similar cultural background, I think you probably know what I’m thinking about this. Children is pride for many Asian families. It’s not something I’ve always agreed with, and that’s because I believe in choice and each person will feel a different way about having kids and family. You can’t help the way you feel, and having and raising kids is something not to be taken lightly.

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    1. I probably would not feel as ashamed or embarrassed about still living at home if I was making my own money. You’re right, it’s very common that adults in Asian families continue to live with relatives or parents. My mom has a friend who is her age, and somehow, she still lives with her elderly parents despite accumulating vast savings by having worked at a bank for more than 30 years. My brother has a female friend who recently moved out to her own place. She lived with her father prior to this, and I found it so puzzling that although my father didn’t know anything about her relationship with her father, immediately his reaction to her moving out was, “Oh, seems like she’s not that close with her dad”, as if in his mind, it’s more plausible that she was moving out because she and her dad are not close, rather than the idea that maybe she wants to be independent and on her own. If I had a stable job right now and was saving money through at least half my paychecks, there would be no doubt that I would be looking for an apartment or a condo to move into, even if my parents disagreed with my choice because when it comes down to it, it is my life.

      Yep, having children and raising children seems like a traditional path to take if people are looking to have a nuclear family. For my own parents, I feel it was somewhat messy for them because they only knew each other for like about a year before they got married, and they didn’t have the experience of living together until after marriage. It gives me a headache sometimes listening to them still arguing about the same things they disagreed about 5 years ago. It’s bad, but seeing their ups and downs, I can’t help but a little influenced in thinking negatively about the idea of a traditional marriage like theirs and not ever wanting to pursue a life like that with anyone.

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      1. ‘Oh, seems like she’s not that close with her dad’ I don’t like that reasoning but that is some how others think. Hopefully one day you will be able to move out and feel it for what it is.

        Each relationship is different. Some are more one sided than others, and some are inclined to put up with arguments all the time. Personally, I’d rather not be someone who would go at my throat every other day, or really every so often.

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  3. Nervous girl, I hate to say it so bluntly, but you need to move out of home my dear. You must be the one to break the tie to childhood because it is clear that your parents never will. You are an adult and you must seize the challenge to live as one. It will be hard but please plan for it and make it happen very soon – before you are 30. You will find yourself able to manage situations and feelings as you never have before, and may never do in the current environment. Trust in your abilities and strength. Open your wings.

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    1. Moving out has always been in my future plans, but to do that, I need stable employment first. That too is a challenge because I know it means I have to push myself with work because no one job is going to be the perfect fit that I’m going to be 100% comfortable with. This doesn’t mean I am going to repeat my last mistake with my last job, where I did feel like there was nothing tethering me to the job except that I thought I had to take it to satisfy other people.

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