How Asian Dads Express Their Love

Stoic, stern and imposing, most Asian Dads are known to be strict disciplinarians. In movies, he’s portrayed as a domineering dictator in the household who’d demand his children score ‘A’s because ‘B’s are the Asian ‘F’s.

But even though Asian Dads may come off cold and rarely express their affection for their children, it doesn’t mean they love their kids any less.

Instead, they’d usually opt for these 8 ways to indirectly say “I love you”.

1. He asks if you’ve eaten

The Asian Dad is a man of few words. My own father and I make little conversation but I know he loves me because he frequently asks, “Eat already anot?”.

Part of being a good parent is to make sure your child is well-provided for and the most basic way of fulfilling this obligation is to make sure they’re fed.

“Have you eaten?” is a less awkward way of saying “I don’t want you to starve to death because I’m concerned about you and I love you.”

2. He never lets you worry about money

Sometimes, The Asian Dad seems absent because of the long hours he spends working. But the reason he slogs tirelessly is that he wants to provide the best for his children.

He doesn’t want his child to ‘lose out’ because he didn’t have enough financial resources—he wants to give his child a better life than his own.

My father would say, “Money is a ‘big person’ problem, you just concentrate on doing your job and I’ll do mine.” He’d even slip money into my bank account or ask “Do you need more money?” because he didn’t want me to go hungry.

The Asian Dad does this because he might have grown up less well-to-do, and is trying to shield his child from the stress of making ends meet.

3. He’ll say you spent too much money on gifts you bought for him

The Asian Dad may be willing to spend thousands on enrichment classes for his children, but he’s particularly thrifty when it comes to spending on himself.

When you buy him a gift, he’d either refuse to accept it by saying he’s a simple man with simple needs, or nag at you for spending ‘too much’.

It’s not because he doesn’t want the gift, it’s more likely he feels you shouldn’t ‘waste’ money on him—his happiness is secondary to your own.

But still, you know he loves the presents you bought. Even if he can’t bear to use them, he’ll keep them in a drawer full of the cards and drawings you made when you were little.

4. He takes a hands-off approach when raising you

If you had a typical Asian Dad, he probably left the child-raising to your mother. She was the one who’d read you bedtime stories, send you to school and organise play dates.

Your father would probably check-in on you from time to time and mumble “How’s school?” before returning to his newspapers when you reply “Good”.

Though he might seem standoffish and uncaring, it’s only because he recognises the need for you to be able to make your own decisions as ‘grown up’ now.

Also read:

I Became A Father At Just 17 Years Old – Here’s How I Embrace Parenthood Through The Hardships & Joys

5. He’ll be a disciplinarian

On occasions your Asian Dad did parent you, it was probably for discipline. He’d tell your mum not to spoil or coddle you and was the one who delivered stern warnings and canings.

In primary school, my Dad used to drop me off at school. Once we left the house, I wasn’t allowed to go back for forgotten textbooks or homework.

It wasn’t because he enjoyed seeing me get punished or reprimanded for being careless, but believed I needed to make mistakes to grow.

It was only when I got older, did I realise he was only strict so I’d be more conscientious when I prepared for tasks. He wasn’t ‘naturally mean’—he felt he needed to be the firm hand which guided me through life.

6. He’ll low-key terrify your boyfriends

The first time you bring a girl or boy home for dinner, the Asian Dad would either be making terrible Dad jokes or eating his rice in stony silence.

When he’s not cracking “Why are you stealing my food?” remarks, he’s eyeing your partner’s every move.

He’s worried you’d get taken advantage of or get your heart broken. He wants to make sure his child has a good match who’ll treat them right.

Also, he doesn’t want to ‘waste his rice’.

7. He’s awkward when you show affection

To the Asian Dad, being on the receiving end of affection can be as embarrassing as saying “I love you”.

Maybe he’d stiffen up and pat your back when you try to hug him or give a noncommittal grunt when you give him a peck on the cheek.

It’s likely because his parents probably showed him tough love too, considering how Asians believe ‘actions speak louder than words’.

His awkward reaction is not because he doesn’t love you but because he doesn’t know how to express his love, so this acknowledgment is the best he can do.

8. He wants you to be better than him

The Asian Dad probably pushed you hard in school. If you didn’t score as well as he expected, he’d express disappointment and tell you to work harder. Sometimes, it felt like no matter how hard you tried, you’d never be good enough.

But seeing the glint in his eye on the day you graduated University, you realise he pushed you because excelling in education was the only way he knew to help you achieve success.

He pushed you only because he wanted you to be better than him.

Saying “I Love You” Without Words

The Asian Dad will love you fiercely, with immense generosity and plenty of food. Through his unspoken means, he’s showing you he loves you in his own way.

This article was first published on 21 August 2017 and last updated on 9 March 2024.

Also read:

My Dad Is The Reason Why I Have High Expectations For Boyfriends