No privacy with Asian parents

 

Privacy. Something you don’t necessarily get as a first generation child of two Asian parents. At any time they can come in and say whatever they want to you.

In my situation, my mom comes into my room whenever she feels like it. Being 22 years old, I’ve told her numerous times to please respect my privacy. Little do I realize that in this culture, if you live under their roof, you live under their rules. Nothing really belongs to you – you are owned by them, and must follow everything they say.

It gets to the point where she makes me feel bad about myself for wanting that privacy.  Being a first generation child in North America – I get it. We were raised differently. While each of you emerged from poverty, I was raised with everything I could ever ask for. Food, shelter, an education… I have nothing to worry about. As parents, you wish to give everything to your child that you never had. A university degree and an amazing career are two of the many things that are on her list.

Although, I feel as though in my mom’s own pride that she forgets that I am a person too – with my own mind, my own goals and my own aspirations for the future. I feel as though she has focused too much on what she wants, that she forgets what makes me happy.

Number one on my list is just privacy. I need a place I can call home, where I don’t have to fake being happy. Where I can come home and just shut the world out to recollect my energy for the next day. The place I’m in right now is a toxic environment where I’m told how to dress, how to eat, and how to arrange my room. It’s getting to the point that I can’t handle it anymore. The worst part? My parents have gotten mad at me numerous times for wanting to move out.

Tomorrow I plan on putting a lock on my door – this will strike some controversy. They already think that I’m selfish… might as well do it. Hopefully it’ll end smoothly. I feel as though the only option is to move out. With one year left in university, I’m counting out the days until I’m able to finally have a place I call home.

Joanne

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Eating healthy with Asian Parents

Dear my Filipino family,

I feel like there’s a misconception with fitness in our family, and the way we judge others, especially the ones we love. While families try to help each other, I feel as though in our own ignorance we become insensitive to the words that we say to one another.

For several months now, I’ve dieting and exercising 3-5 times a week. Now please, do not mistake that word “dieting” with the idea that I’m eating less and suffering – as it’s quite the opposite. Dieting is simply making healthier choices, making sure I get the right amount of fruits and vegetables, while exercising regularily. While this sounds positive, the majority of the comments I’ve had have been negative, and let me explain why.

Our Filipino family is culturally known to have large get-togethers where the number one thing we do is eat. Now, at these reunions, the comments I get usually get conflict each other. One aunt may say “wow you’re really skinny – you should eat more” while another family member can say “you’ve gotten really big” and my cousins significant other could say “common, it’s a celebration you should eat whatever you want”.

Now let me stop each of you right there to explain how I feel about this. If you currently look at our family, you see a reoccurring trend that happens once the majority of individuals hit 40-50 years of age. They start getting high blood pressure, high cholesterol, start gaining weight, having cardiovascular disease, the list goes on. And while some of these symptoms occur later in life, it’s all linked to two major things – lifestyle and nutrition.

They say a healthy lifestyle is the fountain of youth, but many of us forget to take care ourselves as we are brought up in the tradition and cultures that believe “bigger is better”, meaning the bigger you are, the healthier you should be. Seeing the nature of where we came from, this complete makes sense, as coming from poverty, food becomes the symbol of wealth.

But now, times have changed. I want each of you to understand that comments such as “why are you just eating salad” or “Why aren’t you eating more” can have a negative impact on what I’m trying to achieve. Lots of you are thinking I’m dieting because I want to lose weight – which is partially true. But the real reason is that I want to build muscle and build strength. I want the ability to show that a woman in our family is strong and independent – that I am able to carry boxes up the stairs, or push the car out of the snow. Even though these are simple tasks, these goals have become a lifestyle change for me and I hope that each of you can respect that.

All in all this is a way for me to say, please – don’t discourage me, don’t push me to eat more or less and please don’t make fun of me. I’m not asking you to change your ways, but rather help me achieve my goals in building a healthy lifestyle that is not temporary. This diet does not have an end date – it’s part of my life now. I want to live long and healthy. And I hope each of you understand this and give me positive words of encouragement.

Joanne