The other day I was on reddit and I noticed a story that was titled, "Parents like Amy Chua are the reason Asian-Americans like me are in therapy". Intrigued, I clicked on the link and came to this blog post. I read it and was really conflicted. I was shocked, horrified, and disgusted about the story on Amy Chua, and glad that someone was willing to be open enough (like the author of the blog post, Betty Ming Liu) to talk about being in therapy. It's not something we Asians talk about.
I don't want to link the story on Amy Chua. If you want to read it follow through the links on Betty's site. Basically, all you need to know is that she's a crazy Asian mom (for those of you who know what that means) that fully believes the hardcore Asian way of raising your children is the way to go. It is most definitely NOT the way to go, and in fact is probably the worst way to go EVER. Let me break off some knowledge for you.
My mother is a crazy Asian mom. I was raised very traditionally Korean for the most part, although I admit that I wished I would have been able to learn how to play an instrument because I do love music and making music. Instead of the music lessons, I had the martial arts lessons, and that was what I had to do almost every day for several hours after school starting at age 4 until I was 14. When I was 14, I finally asked my parents what it would take for me to stop having to train at my dad's martial arts studio, and they told me that it would be until I moved out, or got my black belt. I figured I had 3-4 years left till moving out, so getting my black belt seemed the better option because it'd be quicker. I failed the test once in a horrifyingly embarrassing way and then busted my ass for the better part of a year so I could pass the test. Sidenote: the test is 2 days. Day 1 is where you show the panel everything you've ever learned from white belt on. You also have to fight 3-4 grown ass men (and not get your ass beat), do the splits, and break boards and bricks a variety of different ways. You see why it took me a year. I passed when I was 15. But as usual, I digress.
When I say I was raised traditionally Korean, that pretty much means that my parents beat my ass. And I don't mean a spanking. I mean a serious ass beating. And since my parents were into martial arts, that also meant a much more serious ass beating (with various weapons and pain inducing instruments) than you'd think. Let me just say that my childhood was moderately awful. I grew up believing I was a failure in every way, shape, and form, and that I was a fat, ugly, disgusting pig who would pretty much be a worthless whore when I grew up. Why did I think that, you ask? This would be because I was told those things every day. That was supposed to be for my own good, and was meant to inspire me. And no, I'm not kidding. There were a ton of other things that happened to me growing up that I won't get into, but let's just say that I think I've experienced every horrible thing that a woman can except for one. And all that happened to me up until age 15. It was then that CPS came in and took me out of my home when it was discovered how my parents were "raising" me. I was in foster care till I turned 17.
Being in foster care was terrible. I can't even begin to describe the pain in the whole experience of my life until that point. What's sad is that despite how bad I had it, and it was pretty bad, when I went into foster care, I was exposed to the absolute filth that people do to their children. I had a foster sister who was raped by her father repeatedly, and then her grandmother beat her almost to death, putting her in the hospital, when she tried to tell her about it, and did various other things to make her "stop lying", although it was obvious what had been done to her. I knew other kids who were raped by siblings, who were beaten to near death multiple times and exposed to horrible, horrible things. I went to therapy. I was in and out of foster homes because no one wants a teenager, because people believe that teenagers in foster care are there for a reason - because they're trouble makers.
I've been in and out of therapy ever since. I'm a big fan of therapy. I guess this all explains why I ended up a Communication Studies major in undergrad, and why Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, and Peacebuilding is my graduate school major. As of right now, I don't speak to my mom, because in her mind, she has rewritten history. She believes that even though I was taken away from her by CPS, that even though she went to court multiple times because of me, that the time I was out of her home (my parents had divorced the year I was taken out of the home) was because I was a "bad" kid who "ran away". She doesn't acknowledge or believe what I know really happened. She had the sheer balls to tell me, before manz and I got married, that "You'd better not mess this one up, because I know the kind of person you are. I'm saying this because I'm your mother and I know you, and you have a tendency to screw good things up." I was in shock that she said that, and asked, "Don't you think that's a harsh thing to say?" She couldn't believe I would ask such a thing. She just said, "No, of course not. Like I said, I know you and I know you have tendencies to mess things up. Your fiance is a good man and I would hate to see him get hurt." And that was her trying to be really nice to me. She wasn't invited to the wedding, and I don't plan on having a relationship with her anytime soon, while she persists in believing that I'm basically a bad person who screws things up. How could I?
So what's my point in revealing all this information? Because quite honestly, my mother truly, truly believes that she was a good mother. Other people believe that she was a good mother, because they don't know that I went into foster care because she beat the living shit out of my sister and I. All they see is that my sister is a lawyer and my brother and I went to graduate school and we're all "successful", which must be a sign of good parenting. As far as I'm concerned, it isn't. I personally got myself to where I am today by my damn self, and not because my parents ever did shit for me or were good parents. They weren't. So Those of you that have good parents, please, please do me, them, and yourselves a favor and honor and respect them before its too late. You don't know how much work it is and how hard it is to be a truly good parent. No matter how much they annoy you, get on your nerves, bug you, whatever, just remember that they did the best they could by you despite their flaws and limitations and that you came into the world as a whole person, instead of broken, like me. It has taken 18 years for me to be relatively functional and I'm still working on my issues.
I'll tell you what, though. Despite all the fucked up shit that's happened to me, and how awful and dysfunctional my family is, I don't have any regret about anything. Obviously I wouldn't want to have to experience everything again, but I know that everything I've been through has made me who and what I am today. And I'm finally beginning to be proud of that.